Our desire for our children’s happiness and growth is good. (Who can argue that a calm, loving, and devoted family is not precisely what every child needs and deserves?) We do have a tremendous impact in shaping their lives, and corporate interests are already lining up to vie for their attention. But the promise of a child who does not whine, get sick, throw tantrums, or feel angry or insecure is patently false. And living as though I am my daughter’s ticket to success allows little room for grace or resiliency when something bad or simply human happens. It frames her existence with the perpetual threat of being forever stunted, or at least diminished, by every missed opportunity or crappy moment in her parents’ lives.
More insidiously, the myth of perfect parenting fosters the heresy that we get what we deserve. This is a particular variation on the health-and-prosperity gospel, itself a close cousin to the Oprah-recommended The Secret in that both insist that your life situation is the result of your own doing, even if all you have done is thought a certain way.
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