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A Nation of Wimps: The High Cost of Invasive Parenting

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  313 ratings  ·  71 reviews
Wake up, America: We?re raising a nation of wimps.Hara Marano, editor-at-large and the former editor-in-chief of Psychology Today, has been watching a disturbing trend: kids are growing up to be wimps. They can?t make their own decisions, cope with anxiety, or handle difficult emotions without going off the deep end. Teens lack leadership skills. College students engage in ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published April 15th 2008 by Broadway Books (first published 2008)
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Nicole Johns
Jun 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: parents and educators, as well as those concerned about the future of education
This book will have a profound effect on how I parent and it already has me re-thinking and changing my ways.

Basically, the book is about how the growing trend of "helicopter" or "death-grip" or "intrusive" parenting is not only weakening and harming our kids, but will also ultimately limit our country's prospects in the new global economy. I have friends in higher ed and they have told me stories about 18 year olds unable to decide for themselves what size t-shirt they need and don't know how
Feb 21, 2010 rated it did not like it
VERY unimpressed with this book. I understand what the author is saying, I just don't care a I disagree with it. What he's promoting (that kids are too sheltered these days) seems to apply to a small minority of American wealthies. I also wonder how prevalent it really is. Also, he makes radical generalizations that are inflammatory and offensive. For example, I'm sure there are SAHMs out there that live through their children and quit successful careers to over-control their lives, but I'm also ...more
Mandeep’s reads
Apr 24, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book was about what the author thinks is a new phenomenon of over-protective parenting and being over-involved in kids lives. And how this is creating unhappy, impatient, brittle children who will not be very good future leaders. It spent a lot of time on how some parents have their kids lives all planned out for them - with their eye to beefing up their college resumes. It was funny at times when the author gave anecdotes about crazy parents attending job interviews with their 18 yr olds. ...more
Jun 03, 2010 rated it did not like it
I was not impressed with this book. It was sensationalistic, poorly referenced and make very sweeping claims that dismissed whole schools of thought that certainly have some validity to them. I'm going to betray my biases here but she dismissed attachment parenting in about a paragraph and did the same to homeschooling, basically making both sound like only the most obsessed parents would consider doing either of those things even though they are so detrimental for their children. She did have s ...more
Aug 03, 2008 rated it it was ok
an interesting point of view. obviously this is occurring but i certainly don't think it's the damning epidemic that this book makes it out to be. plus, i think it would have added a lot more to the book if children and their parents from other socioeconomic spheres were included in the interviews, facts, and figures. yes, this parenting style does exist but so do a million other parenting styles....both good, bad, and in between. when it comes down to it, mostly parents just want what is best f ...more
Aug 11, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Su
Shelves: parenting
The first half of this book was more interesting to me because it focused on younger children. Marano is at her best when she writes about brain development. The chapter on the importance of play is fascinating, especially the part about how ADHD may just be a lack of play. However, the book ends up getting very repetitive and the chapters don't follow any sort of linear argument. Particularly annoying were how chapters were divided into three to four paragraph sections that were unrelated to ea ...more
Jun 29, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Am feeling very conflicted as I read this book. Was my mother an invasive mom...? Is Andrew an invasive dad? I know that many of our parents at school are helicopter parents. I keep switching points of view and placing different people in the different scenarios. I feels a bit overwhelming. I'm trying to perservere. ...more
Dec 03, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a poorly-written book full of exaggerated action metaphors. There are things to think about here, though. The crux of the book seems to be about the pitfalls of modern parenting. In a dynamic, materialistic, highly-competitive world, many adults seem to have problems establishing identities. This causes them to seek identity vicariously through their children, and to desperately try to set their children up for the success they never had by clearing every obstacle from their path. Tragic ...more
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I wish I had read Nation of Wimps 10 years ago, when I first put it on my to-read list. Better late than never though. This is important reading for families who live in pressure-cooker communities where kids are constantly pushed to achieve, increasingly through parental intervention and over-involvement. My three teenagers have already taught me many of the book’s lessons organically, but there were still many great reminders about ways in which we parents sometimes acts as impediments to, rat ...more
Matthew Richey
I agree with many of the concerns expressed in this book, but the author is more interested in anecdotal stories or cherry-picked studies than in doing deep research or actually asking questions. She has concerns that I share, but I'm not sure how this book helps explain the whys or points us towards any what nows. Might be worth a quick browse, but not recommended overall (also, this book was published in 2008, which for some of the points being made, it's a bit dated already). ...more
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
If I had bought this book instead of borrowing it from the library, it would be in the trash right now.

Besides the fact that the author is not a mental health professional of any sort, this book comes off as condescending and extremely judgmental.

Find a good therapist instead.
Jan 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Parents, Educators
Recommended to Donna by: Misti & Christine at Case
Shelves: academic-support
I wanted to be able to tell people I was shocked by what I read in this book. Sadly, I am not--the author has simply named it (well), and as educators we see it day in and day out.

Isn't it funny how nations run from the "enemy," yet often fall from within. Why is it that our nation does not see we are falling from within?

What a reality check for me to read this book. (Misti and Christine recommended it.)

(Note: Many corps look to hire first generation Americans today, as being the children of i
Carmen Liffengren
May 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure what drew me to this book. I saw it at Barnes & Noble and I kept it on a mental to-read list. So, I checked it out from the library. It's really about the effects of hyper-vigilant parenting from birth through high school and college. Today's parents, according to the author, spend so much of their energy coddling and over-protecting their children in the attempt to shield them from ever feeling unhappy or disappointed. In effect they raise children who do not learn to become indepe ...more
Mar 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Sad but true.

Children today in middle class and upper class homes are being overprotected and micromanaged by their parents to such a degree that they do not develop problem solving skills, social relationship skills, independence and successful life skills.

Their parents plan their lives, fighting even before they are born, to find placement for them in the best nursery and preschools so that they are on track for the Ivy League. The children are pressured to perform and fit into the parents' pe
Oct 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone, especially those with kids.
Recommended to Robin by: Newsweek
The basic premise of the book is that parents need to back the F off. Free play (with no adults anywhere in sight) is absolutely essentialt. Roughhousing in particular is critical to brain development. If she's right my youngest is going to be a genius. ;)

I don't agree with all the author's assertions. In particular she needs to decide how she feels about SAHMs. In one breath she trashes them for abandoning their careers and then pouring all that energy into "childrearing" but then in the next b
Dec 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. There is so much information out there about how to be "a good parent" which teaches parents to infantilize their children way too long, this book basically says all of that is crap. Children need to play by themselves and figure things out for themselves. Its not a tragedy if a kid gets hurt playing, its how they learn. I sometimes feel like a bad parent because I let my kid play by himself, or when he gets bored, apparently based on the research presented in this bo ...more
Byron Wright
Aug 01, 2011 rated it liked it
This book talks about why current parenting styles are creating adults who are unable to cope with the real world. Basically left in perpetual adolescence. While I agree with the premise of the book that many parents are too invasive in their children's lives, some of the anecdotes offered as proof are not overly compelling.

Much of the book centers on college age students. Specifically those that are attending school away from home. In my circle, this is a small subset of the population and not
Marya DeVoto
May 13, 2008 rated it liked it
I have yet to read any of the other hot books about overparenting, but this one had plenty of good information and ideas (about the cultural causes of over-parented, over-schooled kids) some interesting science (for example about the effects of 24/7 communication on the ability to plan) and a little less hype than I expected. I agreed with a lot of it and without being able to strictly evaluate the science, thought the arguments were reasonably well-supported. However, it is a pretty far-reachin ...more
Ann Badger
Jul 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing i don't have kids of my own...but i do LOVE them, and my undregrad studies were in child development...if i could get my friends who have kids to read one parenting book int he next year, this would be's all about how the spectrum has now swung to being so overprotective of children that they have no idea who they are in the world, how to make decisions, live with consequences and so forth. Many children are not given the freedom to "just" play, when paly is one of the most basic ...more
Sep 11, 2008 rated it liked it
Some of the points were valid. Parents that live vicariously through their children. (I've seen that) Parents who can't go anywhere without bringing their children along. (seen that, too) Kindergartners whose first day of school is their first day away from mom, ever. (seen that) College kids who get their parents to call their professors to complain about tests or grading practices. (sadly this has happened to Thomas, numerous times!!) Others were a stretch for me, like putting a cover on a gro ...more
Jan 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading this book - makes a lot of sense and outlines where "we" have gone wrong in raising our children.

Really emphasizes the importance of PLAY for children. Today's structured schedules imposed by parents are really a disservice to our childrens development.

This book also discusses the importance of a child's independence in thinking, actions and decision-making as they grow and develop. These skills take time to develop, which some parents don't feel that they have time for
Mar 05, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, parenting
I agree with the author's premise that overparenting is a problem. However, the author paints with way too broad a brush in many portions, particularly those in which she describes public schools. Alarmist claims of such things as kindergartens cutting recess (WHERE is this??) and other such things are just thrown out without a lot of substantiation. As a teacher in the public school system, I'm aware of many ways in which schools are flawed (of course), but the sections in which Marano criticiz ...more
Sep 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
While the book was a little redundent at times, I thought it brought out some very important points that we as parents need to realize. Parenting in this day and age is different and we really are going to pay for the overinvolved, overexpectant parenting. Kids need a chance to play, learn, explore and yes, even fail and we are not allowing that with our hyper vigilance. Without these things our kids are not able to go out on their own and our nation will reap the results of less than creative/i ...more
Aug 12, 2009 rated it it was ok
This book illustrates how "helicopter parenting" and "celebrating mediocrity" hurts our children much more than we may think. I completely agree with her main points, especially that parents need to let their kids fail and experience life on their own. What I didn't like was that she kept bringing up stay-at-home moms in a negative light. She sounded prejudiced towards stay-at-home moms and parents of kids in higher-end school districts, which was annoying to me. The problems she mentions can ha ...more
melanie (lit*chick)
Apr 30, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Like most of these sociological books, it reads a little like a doctoral thesis. She does point out some interesting tendencies in modern parenting:
goal-oriented playing (parent involved, agenda driven) instead of free play; not allowing kids to fail or make mistakes; removing risk in the name of safety; and misuse of prescription drugs are just a few.

I don't think it needs to be read straight through, you can flip around and read parts. Of course, as a retired homeschooler, I don't agree with h
Jul 16, 2012 rated it liked it
I am giving the book four stars because it is though provoking and generally right in the trends Marano identifies. I must add, however, that she largely holds mothers responsible for raising this generation of 'wimps.' And thus comes the irony of the book: while criticizing mothers for being alarmist in their overwhelming need to protect their children, she takes a very alarmist tone herself, telling story after story of extreme helicopter parenting and dwelling on the most dire consequences ex ...more
Apr 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Genre: Non-fiction
Interest level: 8th+
Reading level: Adult

Great parenting book - all about the negative effect helicopter parents have on their kids and why leaving kids to make their own mistakes and solve their own problems is a much better way to prepare them for the vicissitudes of life than controlling every aspect of their lives. Good tips at the back of the book that everyone should read (and yes, that includes you teens out here). Read it together with your parents and have some lively d
Jun 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book re-affirmed my parenting style for me, especially because it often feels at odds with the prevailing parenting style. Controlling my child's every move does not make him "happy." It would make him paranoid.

EVERY PARENT SHOULD READ THIS BOOK. We're trying to protect our children from "everything," but instead we're smothering them and inhibiting them from developing their own self-reliance.
Jul 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Repetative and rambling at times but a must read for educators and parents - while I see too much invasive parenting and have been guilty of it at times myself, I had not realized the significant damage it was causing our nation's youth. As a teacher, I see the results of invasive parenting almost daily but did not realize the extremity of the long term consequences for our nation's children and our country, nor did I realize how widespread it has become. ...more
Aug 30, 2008 rated it liked it
This was interesting & very thought provoking. I do remember having a lot more freedom when I was a kid; and being held accountable for my actions more. I hope more parents read this & have a more common sense style of parenting. Constant protection doesn't help your children.

My stars aren't coming up, for some reason, but I'd give this 4.
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