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In The Collapse of Parenting, Leonard Sax, an acclaimed expert on parenting and childhood development, identifies a key problem plaguing American children, especially relative to other countries: the dramatic decline in young people's achievement and psychological health. The root of this problem, Sax contends, lies in the transfer of authority from parents to their children, a shift that has been occurring over the last fifty years and is now impossible to ignore. Sax pinpoints the effects of this shift, arguing that the rising levels of obesity, depression, and anxiety among young people--as well as their parents' widespread dependence on psychiatric medications to fix such problems--can all be traced back to a corresponding decline in adult authority.Sax argues that a general decline in respect for elders has had particularly severe consequences for the relationship between parents and their children. The result is parents are afraid of seeming too dictatorial and end up abdicating their authority entirely rather than taking a stand with their own children. If kids refuse to eat anything green and demand pizza instead, parents give in, inadvertently raising children who expect to eat sweets and junk food and are thus more likely to become obese. If children demand and receive the latest smartphones, tablets, and other gadgets, and are then allowed to spend the bulk of their waking hours texting with friends and accessing any website they want, they become increasingly reliant on peers and the media for guidance on how to live, rather than their parents. And if they won't sit still in class or listen to adults--parents or teachers--they're often prescribed medication, a quick fix that doesn't help them learn self-control. In short, according to Sax, parents have failed to teach their children good habits, leaving children with no clear sense of the distinction between right and wrong. But Sax insists there is hope. To start with, parents need to regain a central place in the lives of their young children, displacing same-age peers who can't provide the same kind of guidance and stability. Parents also need to learn that they can't be a best friend and a parent at the same time. They'll make their children's lives easier if they focus not on pleasing their kids, but instead on giving them the tools they need to lead happy, healthy lives.Drawing on over twenty-five years of experience as a family psychologist and hundreds of interviews with children, parents, and teachers in the United States and throughout the world, Sax makes a convincing case that if we are to help our children avoid the pitfalls of an increasingly complicated world, we must reassert authority as parents.
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In The Collapse of Parenting, physician, psychologist, and internationally-acclaimed author Leonard Sax presents data documenting a dramatic decline in the achievement and psychological health of American children. Sax argues that rising levels of obesity, depression, and anxiety among young peopleas well as the explosion in the prescribing of psychiatric medications for American kidscan all be traced to parents who let their kids call the shots.
Many parents are afraid of seeming too dictatorial, and end up abdicating their authority rather than taking a stand with their own children. If kids refuse to eat anything green and demand pizza instead, some parents give in, inadvertently raising children who are more likely to become obese. If children are given smartphones and allowed to spend the bulk of their free time texting, playing video games, and surfing the Internet, they become increasingly reliant on peers and the media for guidance on how to live, rather than looking to their parents. And if they won t sit still in class or listen to adults, they re often prescribed medication, a quick fix that actually undermines their self-control. In short, Sax argues, parents are failing to prioritize the parent-child relationship above all other relationships. The result is children who have no absolute standard of right and wrong, who lack discipline, and who look to their peers and the Internet for direction, instead of looking to their parents.
But there is hope. Sax shows how parents can help their kids by reasserting their authorityby limiting time with screens, by encouraging better habits at the dinner table and at bedtime, and by teaching humility and perspective. Drawing on more than twenty-five years of experience as a family physician and psychologist, along with hundreds of interviews with children, parents, and teachers, across the United States and around the world, Sax offers a blueprint parents can use to refresh and renew their relationships with their children, to help their children thrive in an increasingly complicated world.
Leonard Sax, M.D., Ph.D., is a practicing family physician, a PhD psychologist, and a speaker for community groups, schools, and professional organizations. His scholarly work has been published in a wide variety of journals including American Psychologist, Annals of Family Medicine, Behavioral Neuroscience, Environmental Health Perspectives, and the Journal of the American Medical Association. He has been a featured guest on CNN, PBS, The TODAY Show, Fox News, NPR's "Talk of the Nation," and many other national programs. He lives with his wife and daughter in suburban Philadelphia.
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