How to raise children and not go nuts

Parenting in the modern era can be a stressful mix of parent shaming, confusing advice and unhelpful pressure.

MPR News host Stephanie Curtis spoke with two parenting experts about parenting fear — what causes it and what we can do about it. Katherine Lewis is the author of "The Good News About Bad Behavior" and Dr. Bobbi Wegner is a clinical psychologist.

Lewis started researching her book because she felt children were more chaotic and disobedient than they had been in generations past. However, she didn't know if it was anecdotal or a widespread concern until she did the research and found that yes, children are different.

"They have more difficulty managing their emotions, behavior and thoughts and so that just makes parenting harder," she told Curtis.

So, what's changed?

Lewis pointed to three things that made parenting harder. First, play has disappeared and been replaced with constant supervision. Second, technology and social media complicate everything. Third, childhood is less about contributing to the house and society, and more about achievements like academics or athletics.

"Children are in some ways unemployed, they don't have a way to contribute to the home through household chores or an after-school job," she said.

Instead, they're focused on being a high-achieving student or a star athlete, which is a lot of pressure. Wegner agreed that pressure from social media on a child and a parent create anxiety and unrealistic expectations.

"They're very demanding things that are also focused on themselves," said Lewis. "They don't have a way to see how their actions are improving the lives of the people who matter to them most."

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