Westport Together and The Westport Library host award-winning reporter Jennifer Breheny Wallace, author of Never Enough: When Achievement Culture Becomes Toxic—and What We Can Do About It.
In Never Enough, Wallace investigates the deep roots of toxic achievement culture and finds out what we must do to fight back. Drawing on interviews with families, educators, and an original survey of nearly 6,000 parents, she exposes how the pressure to perform is not a matter of parental choice but baked in to our larger society and spurred by increasing income inequality and dwindling opportunities. As a result, children are increasingly absorbing the message that they have no value outside of their accomplishments, a message that is reinforced by the media and greater culture at large.
In the ever-more-competitive race to secure the best possible future, today’s students face unprecedented pressure to succeed. Through deep research and interviews with today’s leading child psychologists, Wallace shows what kids need from adults is not more pressure, but to feel like they matter, that they have intrinsic self-worth not contingent upon external achievements. Parents and educators who adopt the language and values of mattering help children see themselves as a valuable contributor to a larger community. And in an ironic twist, kids who receive consistent feedback that they matter, no matter what, are more likely to have the resilience, self-confidence, and psychological security to thrive.
Jennifer Wallace is an award-winning journalist and author. She also is a frequent contributor to The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post and appears on national television to discuss her articles and relevant topics in the news. After graduating from Harvard College, Wallace began her journalism career at CBS on 60 Minutes, where she was part of a team that won The Robert F. Kennedy Awards for Excellence in Journalism. She is a journalism fellow at The Center for Parent and Teen Communication at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and serves on the board of the Coalition for the Homeless in New York City, where she lives with her husband and their three children.
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