View Full Version : The Hurried Child - do you want to read this together?

12-15-03, 02:44 PM
The Hurried Child is an old book, i have not read, but i think might be good to...

Anyone else want to do it like a book club?


The hurried child took off too soon, too fast, only to crash back to Earth with a force that shook a nearby house in Cheyenne, Wyo. Let's hope that the crash, and Jessica Dubroff's tragic death at 7, will shake parents, teachers, the media and all who have been part of the massive betrayal of American children.

The night before the crash, Jessica complained: "It's been a long day ... I can't wait to sleep. I have had two hours' sleep." If she only had two hours' sleep -- or even if she just thought it was only two hours' sleep -- Jessica must have been a bundle of stress behind those beaming smiles.

Her parents, eager to make the "Today Show" one more time, ignored what she was saying and played up the father-daughter adventure. The media, eager for another 24-hour sensation, put a TV camera on the plane and told her she was cute.

How many of us ignore our children's signs of stress every day as we cram one more activity into their schedules and brag that they can read before kindergarten?

Fifteen years ago, David Elkind, professor of child study at Tufts University, wrote "The Hurried Child," a ground-breaking book about the forced blooming of our children, pressured to achieve more, earlier than any other generation.

"The Hurried Child" was followed last year by "Ties That Stress" about the "age-inappropriate, overwhelming and stressful" demands for maturity we place on children. But Elkind's warnings have fallen on deaf ears in a culture that worships life in the fast lane and treats childhood as a holding pattern before real life can begin.

The result is that the number of damaged children is growing at an alarming rate. More than 2 million children have been diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, while chronic headaches and stomachaches and childhood neuroses are reaching new highs.

The Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget divided children's development into four major stages, the third one beginning around Jessica's age. Ironically, one of the goals of this stage is learning independence while respecting the laws of the physical world. Through all stages of development, the child's reach exceeds the child's grasp. And that's where the parent comes in -- to protect the child and set boundaries.

"She had a freedom which you can't get by holding her back," said Lisa Hathaway, Jessica's mother, adding that her daughter didn't have the word fear "in her vocabulary." But rational fear of danger -- of the consequences of leaping from a high window or riding your bike in heavy traffic -- is exactly what a child is supposed to learn during the stage of development that Jessica was denied. Or did she learn it in those few terrifying seconds before her plane nose-dived to Earth?

"I would want all my children to die in a state of joy," Jessica's mother said. "I mean, what more could I ask for? ... She went with her joy and her passion, and her life was in her hands." Jessica's cap, proclaiming "Women Fly," stopped being amusing once it became apparent that her own mother treated her as though she were a woman rather than a little girl. And now, God help us, Hathaway is threatening to write a book on parenting.

It is not easy to lose sympathy for a mother who has just lost her child. But it was chilling to read that she objected to teddy bears and other toys being left at the makeshift memorial that sprung up after the crash: "Jessica doesn't have toys," she said. "They (the strangers who mourned her daughter) weren't clear about Jessica's lifestyle."

What does become clear is that Jessica's "lifestyle" -- growing up like a miniature adult -- merged with the enticements of instant celebrity. One of the reasons Jessica's father gave for trying to break the age record was that she would "have a lifetime ticket to a certain social strata she can use or not."

But the lessons are not confined to children being pushed by parents seeking fame and fortune through them. In fact, Jessica's legacy will be profound for those of us who can still hold our children in our arms if we learn to listen to their quiet signals of stress before they become symptoms of distress.

In our family, the week that Jessica died, we were deciding whether our own almost 7-year-old would continue her hectic timetable of school and after-school activities or slow down to an easier pace. The tragedy of the hurried little girl helped at least one family make the right decision for their daughter.

12-15-03, 02:48 PM
Looks like a good read. I'm in. You have to give me plenty of time though, K?

12-16-03, 07:39 AM
On that point...

I was thinking that having a dailly schedule, with break days in between and scheduled "comment times" at "weekly break points, might really help.

A regular schedule,
plenty of catch up time,
and chunk sized "performance points"

any other / better ideas?

David (looking for library card!)

12-16-03, 08:01 AM
Are you going to post this on the forums to read As I dont have the book


12-16-03, 09:55 AM
The copyright still stands, so I won't be posting the book.

Can you Do an interlibrary loan?

I'm going to "find my library card
find the library site
reserve the book

anyone else?

12-16-03, 09:58 AM
The hurried child : growing up too fast too soon /

by Elkind, David, 1931-

requested from interlibrary loan...

12-30-03, 10:31 AM
I have the book.

Anyone else still, or now, interested?

01-26-04, 03:05 PM
i am sorry i wasn't here to jump into this conversation. i think it's a great idea! plus, if you discuss *while* we're reading it we won't forget everything we wanted to say!

so, have you read the book yet? if yes, are you interested in picking out another one?

01-28-04, 01:59 AM

01-31-04, 01:01 PM
I'm sorry I wasn't here either to join in. I read anything I can get my hands on that will help me make my children's and my own life a little better. And my husband find's them helpful in getting a better understanding of what we are going thru.