Monthly Article Archives: March 2014

Questionable Values: Why Add More Stress and Pressure on Our Children?Robert Brooks, Ph.D.

In 2011 I wrote a three-part website series about the documentary “Race to Nowhere: The Dark Side of America’s Achievement Culture.”  This documentary was created and directed by Vicki Abeles who noted that its production was triggered “by a series of wake-up calls that made me look closely at the relentless pressure to perform that children face today,” including her 12-year-old daughter being diagnosed with stress induced illness. Abeles observed, “After months of long evenings battling homework assignments, studying for tests and panic attacks in the middle of the night, we found our daughter doubled over in pain, and rushed her to the emergency room.  Her cheerful façade and determination to keep up had masked her symptoms to us, to her friends, and to her teachers.” In my three articles, I described the intense stress and pressure experienced by many of our youth in their quest to be “successful” — success typically measured by obtaining high grades, being accepted for admission to so-called elite colleges, and eventually gaining high-paying positions in the workplace accompanied by all of the trappings that go with a six-figure or higher income. I challenged these criteria for success held by many adults and their teens,

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