Fostering Kids’ Happiness
It would have been useful to have addressed the conflicting [viewpoints] afforded by the February 23 Perspective, “The Problem with Trying So Hard to Make Kids Happy,” versus the lead article, “What if Parenting Doesn’t Matter at All?” The Perspective is dedicated to very proscriptive approaches to parenting, with tangible outcomes as goals — then some 20 pages later we are told that parents’ approaches matter very little in the outcomes of our offspring. The almost-conflicting observations in the pieces should have been acknowledged in one of the articles for the benefit of what could only be a confused reader (if one reads the magazine cover to cover).
Bill Larkins, Manchester
As far as parenting not mattering much in the upbringing of a child, one need only read Richard Weissbourd and Alison Cashin’s Perspective to understand the detrimental effects of parents’ attempts at “removing any obstacles to their [children’s] contentment.” Do we really think Lori Loughlin’s daughters have not been affected by their mom’s alleged machinations to get them into the colleges of their choice?
Kathleen Drane, Plymouth
I found John Wolfson’s “What if Parenting Doesn’t Matter at All?” very interesting. In reflecting on my own experience many years ago as a domestic relations lawyer, I realized that the environment created by parents in the home, and how they conducted themselves toward one another and their children, was not an accurate barometer of what the future would hold for their children. Parents, at the very least, need to provide an environment where children understand that there are choices to be made. The best you can do is give them the tools to make those choices.
Robert E. Klein, South Easton
I always suspected that my children’s peers were highly influential, as Wolfson says. What used to worry me was that my children’s peer group interactions were quite secretive. Most parents do not know what is happening within these groups — we only observe from the outside, and hope for the best. The barometer is school achievement, hobbies, and the appearance of happiness. But all are external measurements, and inexact at best.
Angela Weber, California
Wolfson quite casually dismisses parenting education and support when he writes, “Is it possible that ... all of the expert advice is simply bunk?” The American Academy of Pediatrics is not on call when we have parenting concerns. When we do, we usually get more benefit from talking with someone than from an Internet search. That someone can be our child’s pediatrician, an educator, or parenting group leader. Our experience in Parents Forum is that parents and others in parenting roles can get important information, share valuable skills, and get reassurance by meeting together to talk about our struggles and successes.
Eve Sullivan, founder of Parents Forum, Cambridge
Having taught in public schools for 35 years, my experience tells me that yes, people often are greatly influenced by their genes. BUT show me a kid who comes from a household with little parental involvement and I’ll almost always show you a kid in deep trouble!
jarandy, posted on bostonglobe.com
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