The Self-Driven Child starts with "the assumption that kids have brains in their heads and want their lives to work and that, with some support, they'll figure out what to do."
Giving children and teens the right kind of independence -- a sense of autonomy and self-control -- is critically important to a successful adulthood. Stixrud and Johnson's recommendations are based on current neuroscience research and developmental psychology. A few of the chapter titles give you a clear idea of the book's progression:
"Wait a minute, we're fish!"
Little Guy's recent end-of-the-year preschool program for parents included a Laurie Berkner song The Goldfish (Let's Go Swimming!).
While singing the song, the kiddos act out the lyrics, ultimately realizing they are fish -- Wait a minute, we're fish! -- and are only required to do what a fish does: swim. While I'm sure the song is intended to teach children about the different things they can do such as showering, brushing their teeth or bicycling, it also teaches them that being true to their nature is most important -- this is the crux of individual autonomy. It's okay for fish to swim and for little people to ride a bicycle.
If you haven't heard The Goldfish song, you can experience it on the Laurie Berkner Band YouTube video - one of my Sons calls it "The Amnesiac Fish" song.
Given the authors' backgrounds, the long-term focus in the book is success in college which, in the grand scheme of life, can simply be one of many short-term goals on the path to a life well-lived.
Nevertheless, I highly recommend this book because the premise and suggestions are applicable to raising healthy, independent people adept at making life decisions long before they leave our homes. And the authors acknowledge that most parents instinctively understand their child can think and act independently, but need encouragement to resist external pressures to over-manage their children's lives.
Hey, I've even recommended this book as a professional development title to my Daughter who teaches middle-school! That's how relevant this book is for the village raising our children.