This book started with the premise that poverty has been documented to cause such pressure on families that many parents are absent, due to working multiple jobs to try to provide the basic needs for their families. Due to the lack of parent participation in their children's lives, teens from these home have been in danger of making poor grades, dropping out of school and the possibility of involvement in deviant behavior that could lead to criminal behavior. The book states "America's newly identified at-risk group is preteens and teens from affluent, well-educated families. In spite of their economic and social advantages, they experience amount the highest rates of depression, substance abuse, anxiety disorders, somatic complaints, and unhappiness of any group of children in this country. "
This book discusses what a teen in crisis looks like from an affluent family. It looks very different from the low income families. So shockingly different, that is often missed until it is too late! The teen that ends up in crisis, often is a straight A student, and excels in their extra-curriculum activity. However they are developing anxiety, depression, eating disorders and trying to self medicate through the use of recreational drugs and alcohol.
Due to several factors. One factor is that parents are there but not really "there". What I mean by that is parents are "involved" in their kids lives by online checking grades weekly, at almost every "practice", but these same parents can not find time to just "be" with their kids for example at dinner time, or talk to them before bed. Due to their work, or social obligations or the child's schedule does not allow time. (a parent can fill the child's schedule so full with practices, tutoring, etc.. there is no time for the parent and child to really connect.)
Parents of middle and upper class put such an emphasis on what the kids "do" be it grades, or sports, or music. The kids first get disconnected and feel they are not loved for themselves, but only for performance. Also shockingly the parents expect their teens to have great grades, be outstanding athletes, dancers, or musicians, etc... then the same parents expect nothing when it comes to personal responsibility. (For example: cleaning their bedroom, putting up their dishes, saying please or thank you to others etc..) They let this area at home slide. The parents busy themselves, or hire someone to clean up after the child/teen, solve problems that arise so that the child or preteen will not have to suffer negative consequences. So much so that the preteens who are developing into teenagers are not learning life skills such as: empathy, coping skills, decision making skills, self management, and communication skills to others.
Is that what you want the next generation to look like?
A group of adults that have no decisive, communication skills, no personal responsibility skills, no empathy, or valuing of other people. How are these individuals going to lead without these skills?
Protecting the teen from any consequence is not healthy if it keeps the kids from thriving. It reminds me of the Eagle who builds a nest up high, cozy and soft for her babies. However underneath the nest she has placed sticks, stones and other objects, so that when it is time she will stir up the nest and make the little birds uncomfortable so that they will be able to and want to fly away from the nest. Hum! What an amazing picture that paints.
Part of me did laugh (not because the subject matter wasn't serious) but because it reinforced that parents are so important to a kids development. Imagine that, God's perfect design for a family works!! However with that in mind I believe as a christian, we have to make sure we as parents don't get in the way of our children growth, but also that we have to bring our best and be there purposeful connecting with our kids daily! It's not enough to know what their GPA is, if we can not have a 20 minute conversation with our children. Last but not least, how will we ever be able to share with them about God's love if they don't see God's love for them displayed through us.
This is not a christian book, but it is very relevant to the world we live in today.
Get this book, it is a possible game changer on how you parent. It will make you stop and rethink about what your actions say is really important to you. (It makes me think of an old song, that said, what if at the end of our days, we found out that we had been living life upside down_) What are we really valuing with our actions, and attitudes? Nothing in these books says that good grades, extra fun activities are bad. It just seems as if the affluent families may have their priorities in the wrong order.
Take a moment and write down on a piece of paper what is your order of priorities?
Does your actions match what you just listed?
If not, are your children having to pay the price for your value system or misdirected attention?
Will they be paying the cost for an over scheduled life, or for having a helicopter parent?
What consequences have you let your child experience lately, in the last month?
These are the deep thoughts and questions that this book leaves parents asking, while reexamining how they are parenting today, and tomorrow.