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Young-Eisendrath, a Vermont-based Jungian analyst, practicing Buddhist and author (Women and Desire), identifies a threatening and perplexing problem she calls the self-esteem trap. Today's children and young adults are suffering from a number of symptoms, including obsessive self-focus, restless dissatisfaction, pressures to be exceptional, unreadiness to accept responsibilities and feelings of either superiority or inferiority. According to the author, instead of contentment and positive self-regard, kids raised to believe they are extraordinary or special are more likely to be unhappy and disappointed. Being ordinary and realizing one's connection to the human community is the real key to happiness, she argues, and cultivating the qualities of generosity, discipline, patience, diligence, concentration and wisdom will lead to children who are self-confident and content. She also warns against parents who run interference, protecting their children from inevitable disappointments. Instead, letting kids develop autonomy and experience the consequences of their decisions, she claims, is the way to go. At times, Young-Eisendrath's scope seems unwieldy, but her message rings true. (Sept.)
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"Wise and packed with insight, the book explodes the myths of specialness and self-esteem, replacing them with solid values much more likely to lead to successful children and, even more important, children who turn out to be good people. If you've wondered how to cut through our culture's obsession with perfect children, this is the book for you."-Jean Twenge, PhD, author of Generation Me
"Groundbreaking ... Insightful, well written, and filled with practical advice....As Dr. Young-Eisendrath points out, we can't give children self-esteem. It is a gift we must help them give themselves as they struggle and feel the joy of living in personal conscience, core values, and empathy for others."-Michael Gurian, author of The Wonder of Boys and Nurture the Nature
"Incisive, persuasive, practical, and wise. ...An immensely valuable, reliable, and engaging book."-Edward Hallowell, M.D., author of The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness
"A thoroughly delightful exploration as to why compassion and virtue are the necessary ingredients for the development of a healthy balance for ourselves and our children."-Richard Boyatzis, PhD., coauthor of Primal Leadership