Australian teacher and author John Marsden says that a rise in poor parenting is resulting in ‘emotionally abused’ kids who are unable to cope.

John Marsden is best known as the award-winning author of novels such as Tomorrow When The War Began and So Much To Tell You, but he is also a teacher and founder of two schools with a passion for child development and education.

His latest non-fiction book The Art Of Growing Up is a tell-it-like-it-is guide to parenting, with John saying that many parents have a poor approach to raising their children that is causing a generation of kids who are ‘emotionally abused’.

Essential Skills

John said that the tendency for modern parents to be overprotective could be doing their children more harm than good, but that it is often not discussed for fear of offending people.

“I think one that parenthood is regarded as a sort of sacred subject and that you’re on dangerous ground if you criticise parents or the role they take in their children’s lives,” John told the ABC.

As an educator and step-father to six children himself, John is no stranger to the daily challenges of parenting but feels that many parents are unable to accept criticism of the way they are bringing up their children. He also finds that many kids lack the resilience they need to bounce back from failure and cope with life’s ups and downs.

“Certainly there’s a major difference – and I think teachers in any school would agree – between the parents who can hear uncomfortable things about their children and the parents who can’t,” he said.

“The first group is delightful to work with and the second group (who are in the majority now) are hard work.”

Serious Consequences

Whilst John’s opinions have been met with some resistance, he stands firm in his belief that poor parenting is resulting in emotional abuse.

“It’s not visible in the way that physical abuse is…but there is terrible damage and it’s damage that can’t ever be fully repaired,” he warns. “It’s lifelong.”

John believes that wrapping children in cotton wool can have serious consequences in later life including mental health conditions, addiction, and even criminal behaviour.

His new book is a series of case studies that explore different parenting decisions and the impact they have on children, some of which may be difficult for parents to read as they recognise their own behaviours in the stories.

“You get the whole range of reactions,” John admits. “Just like there’s a whole range of different parenting styles.”

Do you think John has a point? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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  • You can never be over protective, I think children need to know that someone cares and is always there for them, what needs to be considered is proper nutrition in order for the brain to develop and I am not suggesting supplements, I am suggesting good wholefood fresh fruit and vegg and less junk and packaged food.

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  • He does have a very good point. I agree wrapping them up in cotton wool isn’t helping them at all

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  • On the mark. Parents who make their child the victim and can’t see how teaching resilience is part of life. Mean time these kids aren’t learning mutual respect a lot of time. Because of course THEIR child is never wrong or in the wrong.

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  • He may have some valid points but there is definitely enough criticism of the way people parent. Constructive ideas and advice instead of continual criticism that makes people defensive might be the first step in educating parents.


    • I agree the majority of parents are doing a good job and only need more support not criticism.

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  • He does have a point!

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  • some important learnings in what he says…parenting is a hard wrap

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  • Hmm it does make sense!

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  • Being a parent involves many complicated and frustrating decisions to be made … I certainly agree that over protecting our children is not good for them, they have to learn that not all things in life are fair.

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  • He has a point, more and more children can’t cope with the most basic of tasks. Would love to read his book

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  • I would like to read that book. I will see if my local library has a copy. I allow my children to hurt themselves and to make mistakes, I let them lose when we have competitions and I let them suffer consequences. It is important to learn how to cope with the bad stuff that comes with life.

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  • I’m sure John has many positive and good points it is vital to try and be as a good parent as you can. Always loving a child to the best of your abilities is certainly one way to do this.

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  • I agree with a lot of his ideas.

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  • I think he makes some fair points.

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  • I agree that there is lots of bad parenting going on, but it comes in many forms, including being overprotective, not protective enough, too involved, not involved enough … parenting is complicated.

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  • I’d have to agree that over protecting children is damaging to their well being. It doesn’t allow for resilience or responsibility when they are adults in the real World. As for abuse I think they may be stretching it a tad.

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