The Coddling of the American Mind

How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure

Author: Jonathan Haidt, Greg Lukianoff
Buy it on Amazon: Book | Audiobook

Quick Summary:

An extrapolation on an article written in the September 2015 Issue of The Atlantic that went viral sets the stage for this deep dive into what it is that's causing the current generation to be weak and fragile. Helicopter parenting, "safetyism", victimhood, these are all discussed as the two authors dive into the three great untruths that are setting a generation up for failure.

  • “What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker,” or the concept that exposure to offensive and/or difficult ideas can be traumatic
  • “Always trust your feelings,” or the perception that feeling upset by an idea is enough of a reason to toss it aside
  • “Us versus them,” or homogenous tribal thinking that often leads people to invoke shame on anyone whose views fall outside that of their group

Why Read It?:

While I'm not entirely sure I agree with everything they discuss in this book, or the blanket statement that the current generation is full of these weak human beings, it's fair to say that there are some great lessons that can be learned from this book. For instance, they discuss the rise in peanut allergies and how our desire as a society to protect children from the harm of peanuts actually caused the rise in people who are allergic to peanuts. By protecting, we've actually made the problem far worse than if we would have exposed them early on. And it's that point that really stuck for me, it's important to teach humans how to handle things early on, how to overcome adversity early on, rather than protect them from it, to only lead them to be unable to protect themselves or deal with actual disasters later in life.

What I liked most about this book was the advice for parents to let their kids explore, and become "free range" kids. I think this is something that is missing from society, I rarely see kids riding their bikes around the block unsupervised like I did when I was a kid, and I grew up in the city of Chicago, a city known to have the highest crime in all of the United States. If you believe we need to "toughen" up our society, this will be an enjoyable read for you.

If you've already read the book or if you decide to give it a read, and leave a comment about the book below or in the Facebook Group. I'd love to hear what are your personal legends! 

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