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The Anxious Generation

If I were a betting woman, I would wager that ‘The Anxious Generation’ has skittered across your eyes or ears in the past days and weeks. Lately, I don’t get through a day without a mention, and for good reason- this book is calling out the elephant in the room of our society right now. It has spent the past two weeks as #1 on the New York Times Book Review(this week, Anne Lamott’s book ‘Somehow’ slides in front, but Anne can do whatever she wants, and you must read that book too, so it’s all good.)

Now, I love to go ostrich and stick my head in the sand as much as the next person when it comes to the most overwhelming topic about the people we love the most, our kids. Alas, as we have shifted from a play-based childhood to one ruled by screens, likes, video games, and online pornography, enough is enough. The author, Haidt, is a social psychologist who lays it all out in a compelling way while acknowledging how hard it is to be a parent or work with kids and adolescents these days. My favorite chapter is titled ‘Spiritual Elevation and Degradation,’ where Buddha and Marcus Aurelius’s words still ring true (‘The things you think about determine the quality of your mind. Your soul takes on the color of your thoughts.’). I loved the charts and graphs that lay out what is happening to our girls versus our boys in the great rewiring of childhood. He then rounds it out with actionable steps that can be taken (most effectively, collectively) by parents, teachers, schools, tech companies, and governments to end this hellacious epidemic of mental illness and help us forge a path back to reclaiming our hearts and minds and those of our children. I know this feels heavy, but it doesn’t have to be. It is absolutely possible for us to raise our children in a healthier way, and this book is a great first step.