The Invention of ChildhoodWhat does it mean to be young?

The Invention of ChildhoodWhat does it mean to be young?

In recent years, “intensive parenting” has replaced tiger moms and helicopter dads as the most talked about trend in child-rearing. Intensive parents don’t just demand academic perfection and hover around in an effort to mitigate risk—they also plan their child’s extracurricular activities down to the minute, play with them and encourage them to communicate about everything happening in their heads. Think: parent as professor, personal assistant, playmate, therapist and disciplinarian. And while some believe this approach paves a smoother path to success for little ones, others say it’s robbing them of their self-reliance.

Experts lament the hothousing of childhood and the pressures placed upon the young right from birth. But when we decry childhood as “lost,” what exact...

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