Authentic Parenting had a great post a short while back that got me thinking. She writes:
Children are being babied way beyond infancy, into childhood and even into adolescense. They are being spoon and bottle fed way beyond a reasonable age. They get a pacifier jammed in their mouths and a blankie in their hands untill they are off to primary school. They get mush for dinner and puree for lunch. They may not eat with decent cutlery, even in primary school. They are not allowed real scissors, real paint or art supplies.
They are not allowed choices, responsibility or decisions and they are not to be trusted until they are out of you house. They have no rights.
They may not speak when grown-ups do. They can't do anything unless it is age appropriate. They sure as hell shouldn't mix with anyone older or younger than themselves.
Interestingly, I was just reading on the pitfalls of the Millenial Generation. What a disservice is being done, and we are starting to perpetuate it into a second generation!!
"Millennials have been described as: over-protected, over-coddled, over-scheduled, over-confident and self-entitled. On the other hand, they’ve also been called: civic-minded, risk -taking, bold, innovative, entrepreneurial, flexible, optimistic and balanced in their views on the role of work and life. A recent Pew Research Study describes Millennials as: “confident, upbeat, self-expressive, liberal and open to change.”" - Working with MillennialsThink about this: most people who raised children of the Millennial generation were oftentimes neglected by the father-figures in their lives and had a hard-handed work-ethic displayed to them. So, they made up for it by offering their children a coddled lifestyle devoid of repercussions - being fed by a silver spoon, in essence.
Millennials were raised in a public school system where there were 'no losers' to sports - there were ribbons for every place and everyone got a prize at the party. They were graded on a curve and they were enrolled in so many extra curricular activities, they couldn't see straight; they were used to trying out everything, then dropping those things that proved to be too time consuming, difficult, or uninteresting.
Consider this, their generation saw the government fall from it's pedestal in a way never publicized before (Clinton), the judicious system failed in the public eye (OJ Simpson), terrorism came home (Oklahoma City Bombing), the Dow Jones hit a record high, the DVD player was invented, the computer became faster and smarter, and social networking/media began to change the public eye... Then, they watched the nation fall from grace in our economic collapse, thousands laid off, regardless of tenure or loyalty, and they, themselves were thrust out into the workplace.
There was a running (true) joke, that many upper class Millennials would bring their parents or other mentors, to college interviews, and even work interviews.
According to one generational expert, they are considered to be “overparented, overindulged and overprotected. They haven’t experienced that much failure, frustration, pain. We were so obsessed with protecting and promoting their self-esteem that they crumble like cookies when they discover the world doesn’t revolve around them. They get into the real world and they’re shocked.”
Now, this generation is entering the workplace and the older Millennials are having children of their own.
The result is a confusing mix of good and bad. The good: the most technologically advanced generation to date, the most work-life balanced generation to date, a generation that truly cares about others and their hopes and dreams, and a moral and ethical generation with strong ties to environmental conscientiousness.
The bad? Unable to communicate with other generations effectively, difficulty communicating face to face, difficulty functioning with micromanagement, difficulty coping with real-world cause and effect, difficulty working their way up the corporate ladder (a difficult time understanding tenure), difficulty working without being micromanaged, and little long-term loyalty to any people, corporation, or activity without benefit to themselves.
The Bible addresses this conundrum. Whether or not you are Christian, the Bible holds many a nugget of helpful advice as you are traversing the plains of parenting. It says that we, as parents, are to 'train our children up in the way that they should go'.
It doesn't say for us to coddle a child and let them remain a child for as long as possible. It states for us to RAISE them UP in the way that they should go. I am not saying that children cannot play, have fun, climb trees and show kid-isms, I am saying that we should not try to keep them childlike for as long as possible.
Instead, if you have beliefs, morals, or strong opinions on certain issues, share them with your children. If you believe in hard work and respect, teach it to your children. If you believe that adults are to have a healthy family/work balance, teach it to your children. If you believe in good communication and the right to freedom of speech - TEACH IT TO YOUR CHILDREN.
A prior post on Authentic Parenting is entitled The Freedom to Make Mistakes - I prefer the term the Freedom to Fail. Yes, I said Fail. Why does that term seem offensive? Because it offends. Failing means hurt, hurt means offense. Offense means a healthy retrospection will likely occur and alterations will be put into place to decrease the chances of the same hurt happening again. This is healthy and good. But we are failing (I said it again) the next generation by thinking we are protecting them by not allowing them to feel that sting.
So, what does this look like in our house?
We have chores. Chores do not get monetary rewards because we are a family unit that all pitch in to make it work. We also have special projects. Special projects accrue monetary or immaterial rewards commiserate with the effort and completeness of the tasks.
Our children all have a voice in the decisions we make, but it doesn't always mean we will do what they want. They are more than 'allowed' to share their emotions or opinions, but they have to do it in a respectable way.
We have expectations of our childrens' behavior that some think are too harsh. They are not allowed to run amok in the store; negative behavior does have negative consequences, but apologies go a long way in our home. On the other hand, they also have more freedom because of the higher expectations. They can choose to read instead of going down for nap (if they are behaving), they can get on our computers if they would like (as long as they are not looking up inappropriate things), etc...
We tell our children our hopes for their future and usually finish by saying 'we hope that you will ____ but you will have to decide that for yourself'.
Likewise, I hope that this next generation that is being born right now will have the opportunity to fail, the opportunity to have a voice in their home and the opportunity to live up to their parent's high expectations. I hope that these children are given the familial grace to make mistakes, live with the healthy consequences, and learn from them so that they can grow into healthy and competent small humans of our society.
- Calvin (another POV can be seen here)