Special Reports

Are American children today wimps? El Paso psychologists, parents weigh in

EL PASO, Texas - Are today's parents raising a nation of wimps?

That is the provocative question posed by a study published in 2004 that is still raising eyebrows today. The author suggests that parents are so afraid of letting their kids fail, that they are preventing them from learning basic skills to cope with everyday life.

The study, called A Nation of Wimps, was written by Hara Estroff Marano, Editor at Large of Psychology Today. In the study, Marano said, "...parents are taking pains to remove failure from the equation," ultimately making kids "risk-averse, ... psychologically fragile, riddled with anxiety," therefore, "creating a nation of wimps."

El Paso therapists and psychologists offered their opinions on the study to ABC-7.

"Overprotection tends to cut off a children's wings for a normal development," said Anastacia Martinez. She agrees with the article's assessment.

Martinez offered a theoretical assumption made by a child whose parent may be overprotective of a child's actions. "If I can't go out and play without my mother worrying about every little thing that I do, it means I'm not capable of playing by myself, with my friends," she said. "It gives a message as a child that 'I'm not as good as the next kid.'"

But University of Texas at El Paso psychology professor Dr. April Thomas was doubtful about the study's assessment.

"I don't know it's true that kids today are experiencing a greater fear of failure than a past generation," she said. "I think that the article may be based more on anecdotal evidence than on what the research is telling us."

Dr. Thomas said that, despite the commentary in the article, recent research is showing that binge drinking among college students is on the decline and that there is no evidence that depression among young adults is increasing.

"They're doing very well considering the world has become more harsh for them," she said. "I think that we have better measurement today than we ever had in the past, and so, it could be simply that we're better able to detect these things than past generations have been able to."

Thomas and Martinez offer parenting advice to raising a confident child, and one El Paso mother offers a glimpse at her and her husband's parenting style on Monday on ABC-7 at 10. #toughenough


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