Raising our children in a bubble
Because we can no longer cut our progeny loose to find their way at 18, parenting has taken on a new imperative. Children are no longer just a ooopsy moment or the apple of our eye, they are a long term investment. As such, parents no longer raise children so much as try to engineer them.
Today’s parents micromanage their child’s every breath from the womb and beyond, in an effort to prepare them for a life of enlightened dependence. Whether it is Baby Umbilical Gymnastic classes, or My Baby Genius Brain Camp, or Super Soccer Stars of Tomorrow… The laundry list of “my kid is better than your kid” enrichment activities are endless. Parents endeavour to create a perfect world for their children because we can no longer allow children to do it for themselves.
For a number of years I have been at a loss to explain why so many of my students are so reluctant to choose or even think about a career path but recently it dawned on me. Kids spend the first 17 years of their lives, having everything laid out for them on a path made of rainbows and butterfly wings. Then, at the tender age of 17, I ask them to think about what it is they would like to do once they get into the real world and they haven’t a clue. Many have never had to choose or plan anything for themselves, so why would they start now?
The problem doesn’t stop at 17 however; parental hovering, also known as helicopter parenting, continues right on into university and into the real world. It is a world where parents, hand deliver kids to university, accompany their children to job interviews and have even been known to negotiate their child’s first salary and benefits package.
Recently, 21-year-old Aubrey Ireland, became so fed up with her hovering parents, she asked for and was granted a No Stalking order against them. (Read Here) An extreme move I grant you but it certainly is not an isolated situation.
Simply put, we do not allow our children to grow up any longer and that is not doing our children any favours. In fact the recent rise in anxiety and depression in youth would suggest that today’s over bearing parenting practises are grievously flawed.
I was recently at a conference where the Keynote Speaker – Tony Wagner, said that it is estimated 40% of undergraduates at Harvard are on some type of medication for anxiety or depression. I don’t think it is too much of a stretch to say that the numbers are probably similar on campuses all over North America and is it any wonder?
We have forced young adults out of the work force, sentenced them of a life of dependence on parents who in turn, treat them as more of a project then a person. I don’t know about you but that sounds like a perfect recipe for more than just mental illness, it sounds like a recipe for a lost generation to me…
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