A debut guide aims to help children become more independent and responsible.
The main targets of Beecham’s short, epigrammatic book are baby boomers and the so-called “Boomerang Generation” they parented, a group characterized as graduating from high school or college in the 21st century. According to the author, the members of that generation grew up overindulged by their parents, knowing that whatever problems they had or mistakes they made could be resolved by turning to them for rescue. Beecham’s point, which has been raised by many other parenting authorities and hardly seems controversial, is that this approach not only hurts the younger generation it was ostensibly intended to help, but also damages the wider society every bit as much. “When a society loses the capacity to raise children to be responsible, self-reliant, independent and caring people,” the author writes, “it’s a big problem.” To solve this problem, Beecham lays out some basic, useful precepts for parents and guardians: require personal responsibility, strike a balance between being the friend a child wants and the parent a child needs, have enough self-control to allow a kid to stumble, make sure failures have real consequences from which the youngster can learn, and so on. In all of this, as the author makes clear, that concept of balance is crucial. If a parent is too lenient, for instance, teenagers “will not feel the comfort of knowing that the world does impose boundaries,” whereas if the parent is too controlling, the teens won’t have room to grow. Parents and caregivers facing this tricky balancing act should find Beecham’s clear text, simple language, and bulleted points a boon. Unlike many similar books, this candid account doesn’t make helpless saints out of the members of the Boomerang Generation—the text makes accurate allowance for how manipulative and self-serving they can be, and it’s equally hard but fair on the much-maligned baby boomers themselves.
A refreshingly frank—and ultimately optimistic—dissection of the perils of parenting in the hyper-permissive 21st century.