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***The Trouble With Perfect

How Parents Can Avoid the Overachievement Trap and Still Raise Successful Children

by Elisabeth Guthrie, M. D., and Kathy Matthews

Reviewed March 9, 2002.
Broadway Books, 2002.  248 pages.

This is an excellent book, and gave me many things to think about.  It talks about Push Parenting--Why we do it, the negative consequences, and why it’s not good for our kids.

Pushing our kids to do more and be more has become a bigger and bigger problem in modern times.  The scenarios given all sounded familiar.  We want what’s best for our kids.  The experts tell us that even in the womb we can boost our offspring’s intelligence.  What’s a parent to do?  In many ways we feel we must be constantly vigilant to prepare our children for successful lives.  We must never slack off.

The authors point out that it’s all the more tempting to push an almost-perfect kid.  When your son brings home straight A’s except one B-, it’s terribly tempting to focus all the attention on the B-.  It’s also easy to try to live out your own dreams through your children.  My own son has a chance to compete in a Math competition--exactly something I would have loved to have done and would have been good at.  So when I “encourage” him, I need to be careful that I’m doing this for him, and not for myself.

This book talks more about what you shouldn’t do than how to solve it.  Still, it’s a very good reminder to back off and let your kid be a kid.  I have a feeling I’m going to want to reread this book about once a year as my kids go through middle school and high school. 

Copyright © 2003 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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