This morning I loaded up CBC on my computer and watched last weeks Doc Zone called "Hyper Parents and Coddled Kids". Was that ever an interesting show! I recommend all parents go and watch it. The gist of the program was how Generation Y, or the Entitled Generation, has had their hands held by their parents throughout their childhood and now into adulthood. As kids they have very little freedom and free play since parents are in a constant state of fear for their kids getting hurt, lost, etc. There is the peer pressure that parents must enroll their children into as many activities as possible as well as the best schools and to ensure their children are the highest achievers in those activities and schools. Now these coddled children are growing up and unable to cope with the stress of real life. They believe (as their parents have instilled in them) that they can have, do, or achieve anything they want in life, but this isn't so! This generation is now having kids of their own and throwing birthday parties for 1 year old's with a price tag of $4000 (and the parents said this was mid-range).
I reflected on my own upbringing; I think I am on the cusp of this overprotected generation. I see it in a lot of people I know the same age as me, and I am thankful that my upbringing was the way it was (for the most part!). I don't think my parents held our hands too much and they definitely gave us a lot of freedom!
As children my brother and I roamed our property with bb guns, and then later .22's. My mom always told us to stay out of the house unless we were broken or bleeding! We were towed behind quads while riding car hoods, we drove quads way to fast when we could barely reach to shift with our feet, and we loved playing with matches! Now I find it hard to picture letting my boys do the same!! We were only allowed to be involved in one activity at a time. Winters it was Girl Guides for me, and summer was soccer when I was young. There was only one choice in school- nothing fancy for us! We wore hand-me-downs, thrifty store clothes and the ever classy Kmart or a step up to Zellers clothing.
I noticed the Entitled Generation when in high school. I saw my peers get brand new cars for their 16th birthday, whereas my parents paid for half of my beater. Then into University where many parents paid for absolutely everything for their precious kids. I saw the consequences of this as those who had been given everything struggled once setting out on their own. First they had no concept of money. They would spend before they had ever earned, racking up huge amounts of debt. Second they had no concept of making sacrifices and hard work. What? Move away from my home town to somewhere else because there are no jobs? Psshhh, no way! Now these people are in their thirties and struggling to make ends meet and many still having to turn to their parents to get bailed out.
Now I know that some people honestly hit hard times and need to approach their families for help, and those are not who I am discussing here. I am talking about those that are rescued by their parents before they have a chance to learn from their mistakes. They need to flounder and find their feet if they are to learn anything at all.
This documentary made me reflect on my own boys. What kind of men do I see them becoming? I want to raise independent thinkers, hard workers who are kind and honest among other attributes. I do not want to get sucked into the idea that I have to provide the best of the best to them in order for them to thrive. We have not fallen prey to the so-called educational toys such as Baby Einstein or the expensive clothing. I do splurge on books for our boys though, same as my parents did for us. We try to limit how many toys they have, however the grandparents are not quite understanding this and it frustrates us to no end. Our kids are not enrolled in so many activities that they have zero down time. Actually, my kids are enrolled in nothing that is organized at this point; we just attend our playgroup twice a week.
This is where I am extremely happy in our choice of communities. Living in Faro allows us to remain relaxed and stay out of the kiddie rat race. I will let my boys be rough and tumble, climb trees and play in the mud and will just have to ignore that raised eyebrow from the occasional person who thinks kids should stay out of trees and be clean at all times. They will be allowed to fail, to fall, to flounder so they can learn and grow from that experience. I am sure it won't be easy for me to stand back and watch them fall flat on their face, but I will have to remind myself that is how they grow! Hopefully how we are raising our boys will prepare them for real life.