Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

The Coddling of the American Mind

Written by: on March 2, 2020

The Atlantic

“Whatever your identity, background, or political ideology,” the authors advise young people, “you will be happier, healthier, stronger, and more likely to succeed in pursuing your own goals” if you do three things:

  1. Seek out challenges “rather than eliminating or avoiding everything that ‘feels unsafe.’”
  2. Free yourself from cognitive distortions “rather than always trusting your initial feelings.”
  3. Take a generous view of other people, and look for nuance, “rather than assuming the worst about people within a simplistic us-versus-them morality.”

The Last thing we need in this country is another reason for democracy to be threatened. Talking about the fragile stuff realizing that this is a new generation, the millennials stop in 1994. No, we’re into the new generation call the generation which they are even more fragile.

Jonathan says that “Kids born after 1995 thy don’t have a driver’s license, they don’t drink as much they don’t go out on dates, they don’t have sex as much, what are they doing? there are sitting at home on their devices talking with each other and this seems to be changing social development and we know this is not just some perception from outsiders because the rates of anxiety disorders depression self-cutting where they have to be admitted to hospitals and suicide all of this rates are way up, especially for girls and it all begins right around 2011 and so it’s when this generation 1st Pinterest college campuses and 2013 that’s when all this new attitude about speech comes in”

Another reason that they’re sitting home instead of doing all those fun things is that the parents insist on watching them all the time.  I’ve heard that the kids don’t have to ever face any difficulties how can that kid function in the real world? He goes on to say that “the most important psychological idea in the book is antifragility that there are some things that are fragile like a wine glass if you not get over it breaks nothing good happens so if something is plastic knock it over it…”

Today, society enjoys advances that until relatively recently we would not have imagined. We are more connected than ever, more informed than ever, we have more possibilities than ever, and yet it seems that despite all this, each generation that passes undergoes more mental disorders than the previous one.

American Psychological Association

And it is that a new study of the American Psychological Association has concluded that the vast majority of young people belonging to Generation Z, suffer more stress, anxiety, and other disorders compared to previous generations. At first, one might think that perhaps, this is only the case in the United States, where the study was conducted, but this idea cannot be further from the truth.

A very similar study was carried out in Great Britain, and the results they obtained were very similar. In this case, they discovered that among Generation Z it was especially anxiety that had arisen in the indices. In Spain, a seminar was held this summer, “Millennials and Generation Z. The Invisible Depression.” It highlighted that at least 20% of young people had suffered a depressive disorder before the age of 18 and that there is indeed a significant increase in the number of people with these types of problems although it is not yet known why.

I am very interested in the subject of anxiety, especially since 3 of my children are victims of anxiety. The three respond in different ways. My oldest daughter is only 21 years old but at the age of 19, she had trouble sleeping, very worried, depressed and always anxious. The other since very young until today at 17 years straggles with many problems of paranoid, anxiety and inappropriate behaviors in social media and my son of only 16 years of age, also with many social issues. He has no friends at school but is well connected in videogames and social networks.

Therefore Jonathan asked the question are “Good and bad ideas are setting up a generation for failure? And challenges us to consider how we should raise kids. Who wants their kid to fall down a staircase nobody so let’s protect our kids let’s keep them safe really safe if somewhat safe is good very safe is better let’s wrapped in bubble wrap let’s help them out we don’t want them to have a bad day will do things for them.   You want to help them but if you do this if you help your kids all the time if you keep them safe and protect them from danger and help them out when they’re in trouble they don’t learn to do it for themselves they don’t become antifragile you take a naturally antifragile kid and he or she will end up fragile. She or he will end up fragile and you can’t stop if you’ve been doing it through elementary school in middle school you have to keep doing it through high school and then college, this is so obviously a bad idea I mean… prepare your child for the road not the road for your child ”.

I do not try to contradict the author but my children do not fully fit everything he says about anxiety, on the contrary, the 4 are very capable of handling their challenges in the best possible way. And still managed to achieve many things at their young age. However, I dare to say that the grace of God sustains them. The faith that has been instilled in them is strong and it activates in their lives in the most difficult times of their lives.


Jonathan and Greg Lukianoff. The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure. London: Penguin, 2018.

About the Author

Joe Castillo

6 responses to “The Coddling of the American Mind”

  1. Shawn Cramer says:

    Joe, Thanks for putting the positive challenges for each of the 3 untruths – that makes them so much more accessible. The nuance you add through the snapshots of your children are good reminders of the affects of anxiety – and that they are not always debilitating. Please forgive my insensitivity, is the phrase “victim of anxiety” popularly used by those suffering from anxiety? I’d be curious in light of some of Haidts and Lukianoff’s opinions on victim culture.

  2. Dylan Branson says:

    Joe, I think one of the key things you’ve mentioned is the role that God’s grace plays in sustaining your children. Having that hope and faith to fall back on is so important; I know for myself, the times when I anxiety and depression have caused me to spiral would have ended up much worse if not for that very grace.

    I wonder how much the role of hope plays in keeping us from spiraling into anxious and depressed thoughts. If we don’t have something that we’re looking forward to, we end up stagnating where we are or we get so locked in the present or the past that it prevents us from moving forward. What do you think?

  3. Chris Pollock says:

    Interiority. Time to think inwardly, Time to process and obsess over everything.

    “Prepare your child for the road, not the road for your child.” AWESOME.

    Yes, we have such sweet opportunity with our kids to consider the good and the bad…to reason together! And, to let go and, allow for them to work it out (even, to beyond the margins of our understanding or reasonability?). How is our anti-fragility, our willingness to be challenged, in our parenting? Perhaps, there’s space for us to grow in the midst of this conversation. I wonder if at times it can be about saving ourselves from the pain of seeing our kids go through things that could be harmful to them as opposed to saving our kids from the pain itself?

    Thanks Joe, always appreciate your insights.

  4. Darcy Hansen says:

    Thank you for sharing a bit of your family’s story. Like your kids, my daughter struggles with anxiety and depression. Sadly, she is a prodigal. The faith of her parents and family friends carries her along the waves of God’s Grace. One day, she will return to the Father’s open arms, or the Shepherd will gather her and bring her home.

    Part of the problem I’ve seen as a parent is that our capacity for pain and suffering has diminished. We have even less capacity to hold that suffering when our kids suffer. My counselor would always tell me that I have to be willing to hurt more than my daughter does. In doing so, she is given space to try and fail and get back up to try again. It is those moments resiliency is built. I’m so grateful your kids are developing resiliency within their faith. It’s a powerful combination for navigating life’s challenges. May you continue to guide and direct them with great love and a generous spirit.

  5. Greg Reich says:

    I appreciate your sharing. I am curious the books focus of study was upper middle class ivy league schools presumably mostly white. Do you see an increase of anxiety and depression in the latino culture? How do current immigration tensions affect the mental health of current American latinos? Do you see safetyism (overprotective parenting) as an issue?

  6. John McLarty says:

    I think you’ve accurately called out the complexity that comes from over-generalizing an entire generation. There are plenty of GenZ/iGen kids out there who are well-functioning young people, independent and mentally healthy, and capable of facing challenges. I think the book raises the point that some of the ways that parents and schools have tried to help this generation have actually done more harm than good. This is the leadership lesson for me- that what I think may be a good decision in the moment may have significant negative consequences later on and how might I better anticipate the effects of my decisions.

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