Gary Moore: Have we become overprotective of our children?
As an opinion journalist and an author, I put myself out there for others to disagree and be critical of the words that come from both my mind and heart.
It isn’t easy, but it is part of the process. Fortunately, most people are kind and supportive, while others, not so much.
Had my parents not expected me to work through life and solve my own problems, I’m not sure I could write. Yes, they supported and guided me, but my problems were mine, and they made sure I took ownership of the messes I made. I think that is true of most of the baby-boom generation. Our parents saved the free world during World War II. They understood hardship and insisted I solve my own problems.
But many of the baby boomers didn’t learn from our parent’s example. In our loving but misguided attempt to give our children an even better life than we enjoyed, we became overprotective and tried to give our kids more, while expecting them to do less.
We organized their lives rather than allowing them to live them. Organized sports teams took the place of sandlot baseball. Summer music camps replaced our children listening to the radio and imitating the music they heard. The examples are endless, but I’m sure you get the picture.
Have we really made their lives better?
I wrote a few weeks ago about the victim mentality that is rampant today.
Last week, I wrote about the college admissions scandal. Maybe these two issues are not unrelated?
Is it possible my generation, in our passion to make life better and easier for our kids, and our desire to protect them from harm and stress has caused this? In our attempt to make things better, have we profoundly had the opposite effect?
I look back at my mom and dad, Gene and Judy Moore, with enlightened eyes.
My parents were born into the Great Depression and tempered by war. They were lovingly tough and had a wisdom gained through hardship and suffering. They raised me with the understanding that life is tough but it’s better than the alternative. It was stressed that there is great opportunity coupled with risk, but success only is rewarded to those who take the chance. My parents didn’t control me but encouraged my every step of the way.
As I scour the internet for information on raising kids, I find the majority of published papers are about raising happy kids. Yes, we all want our children to be happy, but what about raising responsible kids that become responsible citizens? Has happiness taken precedence over everything in child rearing? And does a happy child always turn into a happy adult?
Caroline Bologna, writing in the Huffington Post, states, “Parents who relinquish control over their children’s lives raise them to be more responsible adults.”
This statement seems to be backed by clinical neuropsychologist William Stixrud, who writes, “We have this epidemic of stress-related problems like anxiety and depression and so many of those are related to the fact kids feel so little control over their lives.”
Growing up, I always felt control over my life. I am not sure my kids would say the same thing. Arlene and I were doting parents and like most of our generation, wanted to save our kids from the same failures and hurts we endured.
At the time, it didn’t occur to us we were paying our kids a disservice. We learned from our pain and failure, yet, we tried to deny our kids the same learning experience by taking greater control over their lives.
“If I make the decision for my kid, then he/she doesn’t own it. I do.”
— William Stixrud, clinical neuropsychologist
So, what’s my point? Only to maybe stimulate us all to re- examine the way we raise our children. Have parents become too controlling? As I have mentioned before in this column, I occasionally substitute teach in the surrounding school districts and know we all have room for improvement. I see kids addicted to their phones and seemingly unable to take responsibility for their circumstances. It’s always somebody else’s fault. I experience in the classroom an incredible amount of anxiety in the students and an unwillingness to take responsibility for their decisions … but also a sense of entitlement that makes me shake my head.
When did our kids replace the word earn for deserve?
Or did we replace it for them?