Think of the angst the recent college admissions scandal has caused in wealthy households from Greenwich to La Jolla, and nowhere in between, except maybe Winnetka. After speaking with friends navigating the modern-day rite of passage that applying to college has become, I imagine dinnertime conversations like this:

“Sequoia? Sequoia, can you put down your iPhone for a minute, honey? Sequoia dear, Instagram isn’t going anywhere. We need to chat about college. Give me your phone. Thanks.”

“What, Dad? All we do is talk about college. Savannah just posted her heli-skiing pics from Zermatt. If I don’t respond, RIGHT NOW, my friends will think I died, or something worse. Why can’t this wait till I finish bingeing these four episodes of Glee?”

“Because I said so. You need to listen closely. This whole college admissions scandal has made me a nervous wreck. There are a couple of things we need to square away.”

“Like what, Dad? Oh, let me guess. You want me to do some more practice SAT tests.”

“Listen, honey, junior year is the most important year of high school. I think this coming summer you should volunteer at that Tanzanian orphanage I endowed. And even though our divorce isn’t final, your mother’s lawyers have assured my lawyers that she agrees with me. My lawyers told me she signed off on the $1 million carve-out from our marital estate. We’ll each donate $500,000 to our alma maters. I’ll mention it to Amherst’s advancement folks Tuesday at my lunch. You should check with your mother as to when she’s going to Dartmouth. Also, have you been taking your Ritalin?”

“DAD!!! You know it makes me look fat. My friends say they don’t recognize real-life me from social-media me. And that nonsense about a gluten-free diet countering it… Total B.S.! I want a different nutritionist. That drug is ruining my life.”

“Sweetheart, you need to remember that to qualify for extra time on your SAT the psychopharmacologist said you need to show a history of taking your pills consistently since freshman year. We can’t afford for you not to get the extra time—everyone’s doing it. You need every advantage your mother and I can ‘qualify’ you for in this game. Also, I booked an appointment with the college counselor Jagger’s mother recommended, next Wednesday at 4, after your Mandarin lesson.”

“DAD! My Mandarin lessons are Thursdays at 4. Wednesdays at 4 I meet with my psychotherapist. How can you confuse them?”

“Sorry. I meant to tell you I rescheduled your psychotherapist for 6 next week. So you’ll still have time to get to your fencing lesson.”

“I hate fencing.”

“Sequoia, please—not now. It’s going to help get you into college. Here, let’s make a deal. If you get an A on your Human Sexualities and Gender Identities quiz tomorrow, I’ll cancel fencing this week. And before I forget, I talked to the headmaster yesterday like you asked me to. He refused to recount the Social Justice Club executive voting results. I know your friends all told you they voted for you for vice president. Don’t believe them.”

“Dad! My friends would never lie. Canyon told me he knows I won. I won’t do anything you say till you call back the headmaster and he makes me vice president.”

“Fair enough, sweetheart. But I want you to know he offered to name you Executive Vice Chairperson for Emerging Issues.”

“Executive Vice? That’s not going to cut it for my college applications or my Linked In. That’s the best you can do? I hate you.”

“Sequoia, I’m sorry. Please, honey, tell me what more I can do for you. I will be speaking with my lawyers this evening before my LA trip. They will relay everything to your mother’s lawyers.”

“Fine. Whatever. Before you go, tell Maria Guadalupe to stop making wheat tortillas. I need corn tortillas. Wheat has gluten. I keep telling her that. She never listens when you’re on business trips or at your girlfriend’s. And why doesn’t she learn English? I’m so busy I don’t have time to explain everything to her in Mexican.”

“Fine, dear. Maria Guadalupe speaks Spanish, not ‘Mexican.’ I will let her know your concerns. She’s never served you nuts or milk since we told her about your allergies, right? Trust me: We will get the tortilla problem straightened out.”

“Alright, already! Can I have my iPhone back now?”

“Yes. Here you go. I’m sorry about all this.”

Parent/child interactions sounded nothing like that 40 years ago. If you grew up while Jimmy Carter complained about malaise, your experience likely resembled mine. But first, the cast of Brennan-family characters. My brother and I, six years apart, cared more about sports than school. My brother put on a Dallas Cowboys jersey when he turned six, and didn’t take it off—not to bathe, not to go to church, not to go to the beach—until he turned 14. I spent my summers playing wiffle ball and incubating skin cancer while my high school’s required summer reading list loomed like the sword of Dam ocles. My WASP mother never met a Catholic until she married my father. She assumed I would go to the University of Pennsylvania, because “all the smart men” in her family had. I, on the other hand, had no desire to spend four years of my life in the land of the Sixers, Phillies, or Eagles, the archnemeses of my beloved Knicks, Mets, and Giants. College decisions no longer hinge on sports loyalty.

My father’s preferences ruled, and were stereotypical. Brooklyn-born meant he loved the Dodgers and hated the Yankees; we weren’t even allowed to watch the Bronx Bombers in my house. Irish Catholic meant drinking, drinking, and more drinking. Marine Corps, Korean War combat veteran meant the kids had to perform chores with the precision of Parris Island recruits. He described himself during his Korean War experience, which interrupted his college studies, as “The first American to do Junior Year abroad. Except in my case I did it in a green uniform, not a tie-dye shirt. And I shot at commies, as opposed to having them teach me like they do to kids nowadays.”

Every Sunday night at dinner during high school, I got grilled on the aimless trajectory of my life. With my parents as the simulacra of Jimmy Cagney and Barbara Bush leading the weekly inquisition, I vividly remember tons of alcohol swirling around the table even as I forget what we actually ate. My father always kicked off the fun:

“Shut up about the Mets pitching staff already. I asked you what college in God’s creation you think would ever accept you?”

“Greg, stop. He’ll go to Penn just like my father and uncles.”

“Penn? This idiot will be lucky if he graduates from high school. Maybe we should look at community colleges to see if they have any interest in someone who cares more about the NFL draft than his SAT scores.”

“Just so you know Dad, my SATs were higher than all my friends’ scores.”

“You did better than your friends? That’s the new benchmark? How many times do I have to tell you your friends are a platoon of pinheads? Your brilliant friend Rich pumped my gas last week. Not only did he give me the wrong change but he also forgot to bring me my goddamn Green Stamps. Even after I reminded him, twice! Then again, at least he’s got a job, unlike you.”

“OK fine. I’ll take the SATs again after baseball season, maybe.”

“‘Maybe?’ Who made you platoon commander? I don’t see any stripes on your sleeve, Bucko. Buy a practice book. And you, what the hell are you snickering about with that stupid Roger Staubach jersey on? How many times do I have to tell you we hate the Cowboys in this house?!”

“Greg, he’s eleven years old. Please stop!”

“I’ll stop when these two imbeciles wake up and give thanks for my guidance in trying to get their bird-brained lives in order. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! I’m sure you learned about them in your Protestant Sunday school, Barbara, while I was busy trying to kill commies in Korea. And now I’m dealing with this crap? How did I get into this mess? Send me back to Korea. Where the hell is that bottle of vodka?”

On and on it went, every Sunday night. Eventually I got into college. My brother did, too. He even went to school in Texas, just to rub it in. And now we come to learn that generational timing was everything in terms of child-rearing and familial college guidance. The book by coauthors Greg Lukianoff and psychologist Jonathan Haidt, entitled The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure, explains this phenomenon. Haidt and Lukianoff have coined the principle “The Untruth of Fragility” as one of the three “Great Untruths” undermining American society. This specific fallacy claims, “What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker.”

Those of us over 40 remember riding, without a seatbelt, in the “way, way back” of a station wagon, crashing from side to side like an untethered astronaut on the space shuttle. We also remember climbing jungle gyms that traversed concrete slabs.  And we all remember riding a bike without a helmet. We stand as living proof those now-verboten daredevil acts didn’t kill us, regardless of what worrywart “child-rearing experts” and personal injury lawyers now claim. Yes, some kids died back then. But millions upon millions didn’t. Thus Haidt and Lukianoff warn, don’t be surprised at today’s spikes in “teen anxiety, depression, and suicide rates” resulting from our current pathological overprotectiveness.

It gets worse. The authors see this craziness giving rise to slavishly risk-averse, “more ideologically uniform” college student bodies. Those who have never faced even the most minimal danger—like, say, taking the SATs without a federally enforced extra-time allowance—will suddenly find all of life to be an insurmountable challenge. These coddled pantywaists will soon make demands in the political arena. And before you know it we will get even more calls for speech codes, social prohibitions against fat shaming, and Twitter mobs ready to lynch those who commit what anyone over the age of 40, i.e., anyone who ever laughed at or told an ethnic joke during his lifetime, considers a venial sin at worst.

I’m lost. How did my generation, which endured many a Sunday night dinner like mine, become the coddlers? I don’t have emotional scars that require a twelve-step program to heal. Instead, those moments formed the foundation of my resilience. One easily endures cancer as well as parental and sibling deaths after such experiences. Without them, one surrenders—and society collapses.