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Harvard psychologist RichardWeissbourd argues incisively that parents—not peers, not television—are the primary shapers of their children’s moral lives. And yet, it is parents’ lack of self-awareness and confused priorities that are dangerously undermining children’s development. Through the author’s own original field research, including hundreds of rich, revealing conversations with children, parents, teachers, and coaches, a surprising picture emerges. Parents’ intense focus on their children’s happiness is turning many children into self-involved, fragile conformists.The suddenly widespread desire of parents to be closer to their children—a heartening trend in many ways—often undercuts kids’morality.Our fixation with being great parents—and our need for our children to reflect that greatness—can actually make them feel ashamed for failing to measure up. Finally, parents’ interactions with coaches and teachers—and coaches’ and teachers’ interactions with children—are critical arenas for nurturing, or eroding, children’s moral lives. Weissbourd’s ultimately compassionate message—based on compelling new research—is that the intense, crisis-filled, and profoundly joyous process of raising a child can be a powerful force for our own moral development.
The 2016 presidential election campaign and its aftermath have underscored worrisome trends in the present state of our democracy: the extreme polarization of the electorate, the dismissal of people with opposing views, and the widespread acceptance and circulation of one-sided and factually erroneous information. Only a small proportion of those who are eligible actually vote, and a declining number of citizens actively participate in local community activities. In Flunking Democracy, Michael A. Rebell makes the case that this is not a recent problem, but rather that for generations now, America’s schools have systematically failed to prepare students to be capable citizens. Rebell analyzes the causes of this failure, provides a detailed analysis of what we know about how to prepare students for productive citizenship, and considers examples of best practices. Rebell further argues that this civic decline is also a legal failure—a gross violation of both federal and state constitutions that can only be addressed by the courts. Flunking Democracy concludes with specific recommendations for how the courts can and should address this deficiency, and is essential reading for anyone interested in education, the law, and democratic society.
Ninety-five percent of American kids have Internet access by age 11; the average number of texts a teenager sends each month is well over 3,000. More families report that technology makes life with children more challenging, not less, as parents today struggle with questions previous generations never faced: Is my thirteen-year-old responsible enough for a Facebook page? What will happen if I give my nine year-old a cell phone? In The Parent App, Lynn Schofield Clark provides what families have been sorely lacking: smart, sensitive, and effective strategies for coping with the dilemmas of digital and mobile media in modern life. Clark set about interviewing scores of mothers and fathers, identifying not only their various approaches, but how they differ according to family income. Parents in upper-income families encourage their children to use media to enhance their education and self-development and to avoid use that might distract them from goals of high achievement. Lower income families, in contrast, encourage the use of digital and mobile media in ways that are respectful, compliant toward parents, and family-focused. Each approach has its own benefits and drawbacks, and whatever the parenting style or economic bracket, parents experience anxiety about how to manage new technology. With the understanding of a parent of teens and the rigor of a social scientist, Clark tackles a host of issues, such as family communication, online predators, cyber bullying, sexting, gamer drop-outs, helicopter parenting, technological monitoring, the effectiveness of strict controls, and much more. The Parent App is more than an advice manual. As Clark admits, technology changes too rapidly for that. Rather, she puts parenting in context, exploring the meaning of media challenges and the consequences of our responses-for our lives as family members and as members of society.
How do we build resilient children who can handle life's challenges? As parents today, we often feel that our role is to protect our children from the world: to cushion them when they fall, to lift them over obstacles, and to remove sharp rocks from their path. But controling a child’s entire environment and keeping all pain at bay isn’t feasible—we can’t prepare the world for our children, so instead we should focus on preparing our children for the world. “The solution is not removing impediments from our children’s lives,” writes Krissy Pozatek, “it is compassionately encouraging them to be brave.” We need to show our kids how to navigate their own terrain. If our kids face small hurdles, small pains, at a young age and learn to overcome these obstacles, they will be much better equipped to face larger trouble later in life. Early lessons in problem solving teach self-confidence and self-reliance—and show us that our kids are tougher than we think. Krissy draws her lessons from her experience guiding children in wilderness therapy and from her Buddhist practice—showing us that all life is as unpredictable as mountain weather, that impermanence is the only constant, and that the most loving act a parent can do is fearlessly ready their child to face the wilderness. For parents of children of all ages.

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