While most of us were hauling debris and trying to salvage the condiments from our thawed fridges, a group of Big Thinkers were comfortably ensconced in Aspen (weather today: 54 degrees) engaging in more high-minded pursuits.

One of the featured sessions at the annual Aspen Ideas Festival had the ambitious title, “What is the goal of parenting?”

It brought together some of the heavy hitters in the parenting advice world, including early childhood expert Erika Christakis, “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” author Amy Chua, “Playful Parenting” author Lawrence Cohen and the author of last year’s much-discussed Atlantic magazine article, “How to Land Your Kid in Therapy,” Lori Gottlieb.

One the subjects they tackled was the notion of over-parenting. This was the topic that Gottlieb addressed in her piece, quoting several experts who said they are seeing a young generation that has been too coddled, that doesn’t understand, let alone have, the skills to become self-sufficient.

The experts lay the blame squarely on the shoulders of parents. They say we have become a generation that is too anxious about allowing our children to fail — at school, on the playground, anywhere.

The panelists, too, said parents today have lost the art of guiding their children at a healthy distance. They also fear that their children might not like them, they said. Cohen said he has to remind patients that kids often need something they can “bump up against.”

Here’s a video clip from the session, where the panelists describe why kids need to “hate” their parents sometimes.

(Watch through until the end, when Christakis reads from the cautionary and unintentionally hilarious e-mail sent to a Harvard professor from an overly parented student.)

How do you think it’s best to encourage self-sufficiency in our children?

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