Dear Parents: Don't Drink The Kool-Aid

Dear Parents of America,

Hi. I've joined your ranks-- been here just over a year. In my time, I've noticed a few things that have grown me for a loop, prompting this here letter. You see, in America, I've noticed that we tend to worship at the altar of children, and to be honest, it's starting to scare me a little bit.

When I was a child, things were different. It's not that they were necessarily better, but they were different. You used to be able to do things like get in playground fights without being considered a terrorist, and we weren't all expected to be prodigies who excelled upon exit from the womb. We didn't have antibiotics in our chicken, and when I got my report card in elementary school "O" was a grade (for "outstanding," and it was above an A). We couldn't talk on the telephone during a lightening storm because you could get electrocuted. Through the phone.

Today, things are a little different for children. They graduate from preschool, kindergarten, fifth and eighth grades as well as high school and possibly college. Everyone gets a trophy at field day, and they are all packing organic bento boxes for lunch at school. They have cell phones and FaceBook and whatever other social media crap is coming down the pike that we'll have to learn about next. My how the times have changed...

In many ways today's kids are going to grow up with a lot more than we had, for example, the Internet, the instant connection to global society, and to be sure, they are going to be a hell of a lot more technologically savvy than we ever were. I already see how children of today are less racist, more tolerant, and generally more accepting of all types of lifestyles than anyone I've ever met. And that's all very cool.

But in a world that is so rapidly becoming global, are they going to have the skills to participate in the ways that will be asked of them? And what I mean by this is: we've gone overboard, and we're staggeringly close to the brink of disaster.

My generation is the first of it's kind. Many of our households had two parents who worked with few exceptions. So when you think about it, we're a generation of children who were raised by nannies, teachers, coaches, and other care providers during the day while our parents worked to make ends meet. This seems to have stricken a nerve somewhere deep in our parenting psyches because today, I see many stay a home parents of both genders, and lots of parents who want to be highly involved in their children's lives. This is a good thing.

Until it isn't.

Helicopter parenting is a real thing. And the inclination to over parent seems to be taking the reigns. Reason be damned, we seem to simply be unable to stop ourselves. It starts slowly with things like video monitors for our children...we feel like it gives us peace of mind, being able to see them--to know precisely what they are doing and when--and the next thing you know, you're terrified to let them out of your sight. Afraid to let them fall. Afraid to let them learn that it's okay when they didn't get a trophy at field day. Afraid to tell them that, no, "graduating" from fifth grade is simply expected of them and a part of getting older.

The thing is, children don't need parents--even awesome stay at home parents-- to hoover over them. They don't need to be sheltered from every disappointment or hardship that comes their way. They need someone who is there to put the bandaid and neosporin on when the cut occurs. What they need is someone strong enough to be there and help them sort through those things and make good decisions. They need to know that they can do it, not someone to to do it for them.

Children are wonderful. They can bring us moments that take our breath away. But they also need space. They don't need to be worshiped and coddled to the point of incapacitation.

Parents: don't drink the Kool-Aid.

Don't believe that you have to do everything for you kid. Don't hoover. Let them be kids and make mistakes and learn through experience. It's not our job as parents to manufacture every moment for them...even if it is our evolving instinct. Keep in mind that you are doing something important: you're raising the future leaders of our world. Parenting isn't about being comfortable all the time, or keeping your kid happy. It's about getting in there and making tough decisions, and sometimes helping your child learn hard lessons.

Now get out there, and live your own life. Your child will thank you.

Most Sincerely Yours,

No comments:

Post a Comment