TED Talks

S1 E3 | CLIP

Julie Lythcott-Haims: A Check-Listed Childhood

In this excerpt from TED Talks: Education Revolution, Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of How to Raise an Adult, talks about the dangers of "a check-listed childhood," where they need to go to the "right schools" and take the right classes, leading up to the "right college." This can lead, she argues, to stress and depression over perceived failure.

AIRED: September 12, 2016 | 0:01:48

where parents feel a kid can't be successful

unless the parent is protecting and preventing at every turn

and hovering over every happening

and micromanaging every moment

and steering their kid towards some small subset

of colleges and careers.

Our kids end up leading a kind of checklisted childhood,

and here's what the checklisted childhood looks like.

We want to be sure they go to the right schools,

but not just that,

that they're in the right classes at the right schools,

and that they get the right grades in the right classes

in the right schools.

And when they get to high school,

they don't say, "Well, what might I be interested

in studying or doing as an activity?"

They go to counselors, and they say,

"What do I need to do to get into the right college?"

And then when the grades start to roll in in high school,

and they're getting some B's

or, god forbid, some C's,

they frantically text their friends and say,

"Has anyone ever gotten into the right college

with these grades?"

And they're withering now

under high rates of anxiety and depression,

and some of them are wondering,

will this life ever turn out to have been worth it?

Well, we parents, we parents are pretty sure it's all worth it.

We seem to behave--

It's, like, we literally think they will have no future

if they don't get into one of these tiny set of colleges

or careers we have in mind for them,

or maybe, maybe we're just afraid

they won't have a future we can brag about to our friends

and with stickers on the backs of our cars.