How to Raise an Adult by Julia Lythcott-Haims

It is hard to see yourself. More specifically, it is hard to see your biases in the context of the great sweep of history. It takes a concerted effort to realize your faults and failings when they are part of your identity. Books on raising children have been around a very long time and this is another one. Everyone has an opinion on what is best for a child, what they need. Lythcott-Haims has somewhat inverted this by writing about what kind of adults we are producing and working backwards to identify what we are doing wrong. This is very satisfying both logically and practically.

This is the sort of critical analysis and self-awareness that people need for a culture to grow and progress in a healthy direction. Lythcott-Haims focuses on the growth of helicopter parenting in America, and her portrayal is damning. This is something that concerns all members of a society because raising children isn’t about children; it’s about the adults they become, and America currently has a problem producing independent adults.

Lythcott-Haims’s investigation is centered on her own socio-economic stratum. She spends an awful lot of time exploring college admissions. She is aware of this bias, and it is forgivable considering her background and the weight of college in America at this time, but it does skew what could have been a general analysis towards a specific part of child rearing for a specific class of people. Aside from that, she provides perspective on many facets of parenting with examples from elsewhere in the developed world.

Lythcott-Haims asks how do you get an independent human adult. Exploring the answer has produced some good advice on what works and what doesn’t; along with a merciless analysis of current trends in American society. As an adult who was once a child, it is comforting to read a book that looks so critically at raising children.