Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 


The lovely little dears.

Adored, coddled, adored some more, they go to college with dreams of becoming the CEO of the, um, new Snapchat.

But are many of them being derailed by the way their parents have brought them up?

You know that a book is serious when its title is that long.

You'll also already have a clue as to what the author, former Stanford dean of admissions Julie Lythcott-Haims, believes is the big problem.

It's loving your little one to such distraction and protecting your little one to such abstraction that your little one doesn't ever quite become a big one.

You don't want your little one to experience hurt. You certainly don't want your little one to experience disappointment. So you wrap your arms around your little one's being until that's the sort of being the little one gets used to being.

"Overhelping causes harm. It can leave young adults without the strengths of skill, will and character that are needed to know themselves and to craft a life," Lythcott-Haims writes.

She noticed, when she was at Stanford, that even though the students were academically brilliant, they were incapable of coping with the thing popularly referred to as life.

The minute the fan was struck by even the faintest odor, never mind actual excreta, in would swoop the parents by Lexus, Tesla, or, who knows, Face Time.

How could that benefit their little one?

Naturally, Lythcott-Haims offers some signs that you've fallen into the overparenting trap. If you can't offer help to the readers, they just won't be able to help themselves.

Her first suggestion is that you should be very frightened when you refer to your child as "we." As in: "We're on the croquet team." Or "We've started smoking marijuana."

This suggests excessive investment in junk parenting.

She also warns that if you're constantly in discussions, arguments and general head-scratching headbutting with the adults in your kid's life, stop. How will the kids ever learn to argue for their own wants?

I worry about this. All the kids I know are very good at arguing for their own wants. They employ the same sentence structure all over America. The one that begins: "I want..."

Lythcott-Haims' final suggestion seems terribly obvious. She begs parents not to do their kids' homework. They'll never find the right answers for themselves, will they? Well, not unless they're able to Google them.

One other suggestion seems mightily stressful: teach your kids to do work around the house. You can just imagine so many of these Stanford entrants believing that these kinds of jobs are for specialist staff.

Essentially, Lythcott-Haims believes that too many of these kids are suffering from depression and all sorts of other health-related ailments.

They're semi-people, closeted from birth and cosseted even when they're supposed to be adults.

There again, there aren't too many entrepreneurs who are entirely balanced in the mental sphere. Perhaps smother-crazed parenting is just what they need to succeed.

Published on: Oct 21, 2015
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.