Kohn: Parents are too controlling

Millenials aren’t confident, coddled and narcissistic, writes Alfie Kohn in The Myth of the Spoiled Child.  Parents aren’t too indulgent, he argues. They’re too controlling.

Otherwise liberal parents are adopting socially conservative practices, Kohn believes. “It’s widely assumed that parents are both permissive and overprotective, unable to set limits and afraid to let their kids fail,” he writes. “We’re told that young people receive trophies, praise, and A’s too easily, and suffer from inflated self-esteem and insufficient self-discipline.” Not so, he argues. “Complaints about pushover parents and entitled kids” are nothing new.

It’s possible to be overprotective and controlling.

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  1. Is he still talking?

  2. “Too controlling…”
    “Too” is a value judgment. Different parenting styles (and different teacher styles, and different curricula) will have different results on different children.

    Inevitably, for each child, somebody or some body will decide how that child will spend the time between birth and adulthood. The choice between methods of parenting, between school attendance and homeschooling, and between the NEA/AFT/AFSCME cartel’s schools (the “public” schools) and independent or parochial schools depends on values (ends) and theories on what processes (means) will produce those ends.

    As always, “What works?” is an empirical question to which experiment will provide more reliable answers than will bureaucratic fiat. In public policy, “experiment” means federalism and markets. A State-monopoly enterprise is an experiment with one treatment and no controls, a retarded experimental design.

  3. http://nationsreportcard.gov/hsts_2009/race_gpa.aspx

    Looks like grade inflation to me.

    • PhillipMarlowe says:

      Matches the increases on NAEP.

      • Math NAEP scores have improved since 1990, but the language arts scores are much flatter.

        “4% of students performed at Advanced in 2013, which was higher than the 3% in 2011 and 3% in 1992.” (http://nationsreportcard.gov/reading%5Fmath%5F2013/#/gains-by-group)

        SAT scores show a slight increase in math since the ’80s, but reading is falling. The ACT reported only 25% of the students it tested are prepared for college on all four benchmarks. Should that translate to a B average?

        Part of the increased high school GPA might have come from school districts requiring no-zero policies.

  4. Deirdre Mundy says:

    I think he’s got a point. We live in a small town. Very little traffic except on one main street, no crime to speak of, lots of people out on the street so kids are passively supervised when they’re out and about…

    Yet, most parents won’t let their grade school kids wander unsupervised. I do (I have a 10,8,and 6 who run around with a couple of kids from across the street) as long as the kids stay away from the busy street, but I’m considered borderline crazy. (without crossing a busy street they can walk to CVS, Ice Cream store, a bunch of little shops, 3 parks, all of downtown, etc.)

    Parents HAVE gotten too controlling. I think it’s because of an outsized fear of kidnapping… but… again… with all the people out and about (this is a big walking/biking town), the kids are actually supervised all the time. It just doesn’t FEEL like it.

    A lot of families do schedule every second of the kids’ day. How is that NOT controlling?