“Fragile or Coddled?”


Taking a break from retail for a bit to comment on a fascinating book I just finished reading: The Coddling of the American Mind:How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, copyright 2018 by Penguin Press. If you have been as perplexed as I have been about some goings on at college campuses in the last few years, the book provides some explanations.

I retired from a private college in 2001 and after that worked in a large public community college. The last year I taught in the private college, an irate parent came into my workplace and began yelling at me about a grade I had given her absentee daughter. Because the girl had not handed in a paper, I had given her an F. This had been my practice for 25 years. But what had never happened to me before was to have a parent confront me about it. I was truly startled as I couldn’t fathom why a parent was involved. Worse yet, the administration didn’t support me, but asked me to give the girl a D for her final grade rather than the F she deserved. I replied that in that case, I would raise every other student’s grade one level so that they got the same treatment she was getting. As it turned out, before I had to do that, all the other teachers failed her, so my grade was in line with the others.

But Lukianoff and Haidt introduced me to the concept of the “fragile college student,” long protected from distress by her parents. And they introduced me to the concept now held by many college administrators that the student is a consumer, not the learner that the professors assume.

More tomorrow.

38 thoughts on ““Fragile or Coddled?”

  1. Thankfully, Jamaica missed this memo of making us fragile. 😂 My teachers wouldn’t bat 2 eyelashes about failing you and no parent could march up to campus and raise hell to change it. I don’t think that would work even in high school.


    1. I am very glad I got out of that place! I had no tolerance for parental interference. After 5th grade my daughter had to,solve her own school problems. With me I always had to. It was assumed that the teacher was right when I was a kid.


      1. I’m glad you did, too. Kids like that never really grow up. Mommy always has to fix everything for them. It’s bad enough when it’s a girl, but it’s so much worse when it’s a guy. Then he wonders why no woman will let him sit at the head of her table and calls mommy about that, too! 😅


      1. I had a very abusive physical education teacher in junior high, tormented me and others not athletically gifted…so when I refused to go to school the days when I had her class, “got sick”, my parents had no choice but to ask for a meeting.


        1. They did–I was transferred to the new PE teacher, next semester. But the message the principle sent home to me via my parents was not helpful: that I needed to accept, and learn to get along with all kinds of people in life. It left a scar, because it sounded like abuse should be tolerated…as “just one of those things”…and I already had enough abuse in my home life. Now days bullying–whether by peers or teachers, or bosses on a job–likely ends in a shooting…or contributes to the rising stats for suicide among young people and adults. How the Lord’s heart must break–we are sadly in need of more kindness ❤


  2. I say, that was bad parenting, poor administration and I give the teachers five stars. I don’t know what it’s like to be in private school, dies money play a role?


  3. This is becoming more and more common, I think. And it’s really sad what a disservice it is in the end. By all means, support your children through difficulties – that’s what parents are for. But sometimes that support means saying “Of course you got an F, you didn’t hand a paper in. Fortunately this is something that is always within your control. Next time you will know what to do.”

    I truly don’t understand that parenting logic. I don’t like seeing my son suffer either, but there are better ways to help than just pulling them out of the situation.


    1. Some parents seem to have zero faith that their children can learn to fight their own battles and suffer their own consequences. I don’t understand that. We support and guide our kids, but we don’t live their lives for them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Right – but don’t they realize there will come a time when they won’t be there to rescue them or even to take refuge with later if it doesn’t go well? Seems like a big gap in logic…


        1. True – but for how long…? Eventually the whole thing is going to collapse. Mom and dad won’t be able to work, and then what?

          I hope I’m just stereotyping and over-generalizing. That future is too sad otherwise.


  4. We just did a seminar on pedagogy in my doctoral program, and this topic came up! Several of the other students had already experienced situations similar to yours. Most felt like you just have to accept the grade inflation if you want to have a job. Tough spot.


  5. This attitude has lead to the growth of what I call “promoting mediocrity”. It is line with the private school attitude of allowing music students who have not practice a note the entire year to get up on a stage and give a shocking performance [which the parents must all suffer through] instead of telling them that they can’t perform which is what should happen. Giving accolades for poor performance is creating a culture of mediocrity.


  6. I could not be a teacher. It was hard enough being a cop. All the parents and students, young and old, scream for equality, they don’t like it when it’s applied however. It turns into an inconvienience then.


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