Yesterday my daughter was taking a tennis lesson. Twenty minutes in, and trying to be helpful, I started to pick up the balls. Her instructor stopped me. "Parents," he said, "can mollycoddle their kids, but when they are with me, they clean up their own mess."
This conversation came on the heels of my reading the Atlantic article How to Land Your Kid in Therapy in which psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb tells of kids filing into her office, depressed. She's discovering that these kids aren't listless because their parents are mean, but because they are too nice. As she has delved into the problem, she's asking the question: "Is it possible that these parents have done too much?"
It seems the answer is yes -- certainly that's what Richard and Linda Eyre conclude in their upcoming book The Entitlement Trap. As I've noted, Linda Eyre would be on my personal Advisory Board if I had one, partly because of what she and Richard say, but mostly because of how much I like their three daughters: this family walks their talk.
Given that my children are already 15 and almost 11, listening to parenting advice is not always easy. I've started down a parenting path. I do some things well, others not so much. A course correction in which I help my children take ownership for their money, values, decisions, education, relationships will require that I take more responsibility for my parenting.
But I also know that I care deeply about their future, and the future of our society. In fact, I can't help wonder if the debt ceiling negotiations that have sent the stock market into its current tailspin would have gone differently if we, as a nation, were less entitled. Alexis de Tocqueville, in his famed analysis of America, summarized, "America is great because she is good. If she ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great."
So, here's what I'd encourage you to do: Pre-order the book. If enough copies are sold before the official launch date of September 6, the book will start out on the bestseller list, sending a message that pulling ourselves out the entitlement trap is a priority: won't it be lovely to help create a groundswell for good.
Giveaway: If you will share this post on Facebook, Twitter or Google+, and leave a comment here that you have done so, you will become eligible for one of two copies of The Entitlement Trap. These will be courtesy me as my contribution to the cause. The contest will end at midnight on Monday, August 29; I'll announce the winners on August 30. If you've already ordered the book, and you win, you can give the copy you win to a friend.
Finally, once you've bought the book, so as to not become overwhelmed by feelings of imperfection (I can't be the only one), just note one or two things you start to do differently because of what you read. For example, I noticed this afternoon that when my son asked where his computer was, instead of going to get it for him, I told him where it was. He couldn't find it. I still didn't get it for him. It was hard, but I did it.