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A Nation of Wimps

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The excerpt below is the introductory first sentences followed by the last page of an 8-page article. Go to the URL at the bottom to enjoy the whole thing.

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Parents are going to ludicrous lengths to take the bumps out of life for their children. However, parental hyperconcern has the net effect of making kids more fragile; that may be why they're breaking down in record numbers.

[...]

Parents need to abandon the idea of perfection and give up some of the invasive control they've maintained over their children. The goal of parenting, Portmann reminds, is to raise an independent human being. Sooner or later, he says, most kids will be forced to confront their own mediocrity. Parents may find it easier to give up some control if they recognize they have exaggerated many of the dangers of childhood—although they have steadfastly ignored others, namely the removal of recess from schools and the ubiquity of video games that encourage aggression.

The childhood we've introduced to our children is very different from that in past eras, Epstein stresses. Children no longer work at young ages. They stay in school for longer periods of time and spend more time exclusively in the company of peers. Children are far less integrated into adult society than they used to be at every step of the way. We've introduced laws that give children many rights and protections—although we have allowed media and marketers to have free access.

In changing the nature of childhood, Stearns argues, we've introduced a tendency to assume that children can't handle difficult situations. "Middle-class parents especially assume that if kids start getting into difficulty they need to rush in and do it for them, rather than let them flounder a bit and learn from it. I don't mean we should abandon them," he says, "but give them more credit for figuring things out." And recognize that parents themselves have created many of the stresses and anxieties children are suffering from, without giving them tools to manage them.

While the adults are at it, they need to remember that one of the goals of higher education is to help young people develop the capacity to think for themselves.

Although we're well on our way to making kids more fragile, no one thinks that kids and young adults are fundamentally more flawed than in previous generations. Maybe many will "recover" from diagnoses too liberally slapped on to them. In his own studies of 14 skills he has identified as essential for adulthood in American culture, from love to leadership, Epstein has found that "although teens don't necessarily behave in a competent way, they have the potential to be every bit as competent and as incompetent as adults."

Parental anxiety has its place. But the way things now stand, it's not being applied wisely. We're paying too much attention to too few kids—and in the end, the wrong kids. As with the girl whose parents bought her the Gestalt-defect diagnosis, resources are being expended for kids who don't need them.

There are kids who are worth worrying about—kids in poverty, stresses Anderegg. "We focus so much on our own children," says Elkind, "It's time to begin caring about all children."

http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/pt...112-000010.html


Man is made by his belief. As he believes, so he is.

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I read the whole thing. I thought it was iiiinteresting. It's just another swing of the pendulum between the parenting of the 80s+ (affectionate) and the parenting many of those parents had (cold) that they vowed they would never give to their own children.

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I just read what you posted but all solid points. I say the single, most influential part of raising your children to survive in this world is to make sure they have enough social interaction that has positive reinforcement of the values you embrace (such as team sports, music, etc). Peer pressure is enormously powerful and no parent can fully remove that from their children without the child becoming a loner or beginning to show anti-social behavior. Parent's have to use the powerful force in a positive way - there's Boyscouts, karate, Christian teen groups. And the kids need to be away from the comfort and safety of their parents to experience risk in a controlled environment. Studies have shown that girls who get involved in team sports are more succeful academically and tend to be more successful career wise in adulthood.

Edited by Steven_and_Jinky

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I just read what you posted but all solid points. I say the single, most influential part of raising your children to survive in this world is to make sure they have enough social interaction that has positive reinforcement of the values you embrace (such as team sports, music, etc). Peer pressure is enormously powerful and no parent can fully remove that from their children without the child becoming a loner or beginning to show anti-social behavior. Parent's have to use the powerful force in a positive way - there's Boyscouts, karate, Christian teen groups. And the kids need to be away from the comfort and safety of their parents to experience risk in a controlled environment. Studies have shown that girls who get involved in team sports are more succeful academically and tend to be more successful career wise in adulthood.

Interesting post. Social interaction is definitely a key to having a healthy development for any human being. The kids I work with lack many basic social interaction skills such as teamwork, a sense of morals, and a lack of empathy for others which I attribute to bad parenting or lack thereof.

Funny, I will sound old now but when I was a kid we had no supervision whatsoever. We did get injured quite a bit, lit some bonfires, played sports, went fishing, had fights, toilet papered the Smith's house and rescued some friends from drowning but we all survived. We also got to learn together as a social group to set our own rules. I had great parents that reinforced a solid value system.

What is "risk in a controlled environment"? Sounds like a lab experiment.

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Parents need to let their kids fall on occasion. What are they going to learn in life if we do everything for them? I see so many kids come into the office every day and I know right away the kids that have been sheltered. They just act different than the other kids. Growing up I made tons of mistakes and my parents tell me now that they knew I was making the mistakes, but I would have not learned on my own if I had them intervene for me. A friend of mine is a college professor here and she will tell me stories on how the student fails and the mommy and daddy will call her up or make an appointment so they can find a way to make it easier on them when point blank they just are not doing the work. I know I hated my parents for how they treated me growing up (of course I thought life was oh so terrible), but now I thank them because it gave me characted to who I am today.

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What is "risk in a controlled environment"? Sounds like a lab experiment.

I meant it in things such as organized sports vs. a group of kids loitering behind a strip mall looking for some excitement - "Hey let's make a bonfire!" I knew a kid who got his face nearly burned off from that. They decided to use a metal drum that had garbage in it. They didn't bother to see what was trashed. There was an aerosol can which exploded from the heat. So that's what I mean about having them take risks in a controlled environment. Otherwise, kids tend to mame themselves in persuit of thrill seeking.

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Hmm. I'm a parent of 5, ranging in age from 10 down to almost 4. I also work in a low income/high risk preschool. From what I've seen people are seeing things in black in white (I don't mean VJ people, but parents out in the real world). Either they micro-manage their kids every waking moment, or leave them to brain rot in front of a TV. Ok, now I sound like I'm the one seeing things black and white...sigh. My older 2 are in sports, soccer and softball(both girls). I've seen parents force children to play that obviously had no interest in the game...actually cried to go home. "No! We can't go home yet! We have to go to ballet after this anyway!' Honestly my thinking is what happened to giving a kid a huge cardboard box, a fist full of crayons and a free afternoon? Kids aren't allowed to be kids anymore. Now I'm going to step down off my soapbox before I tick someone off.


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What is "risk in a controlled environment"? Sounds like a lab experiment.

I meant it in things such as organized sports vs. a group of kids loitering behind a strip mall looking for some excitement - "Hey let's make a bonfire!" I knew a kid who got his face nearly burned off from that. They decided to use a metal drum that had garbage in it. They didn't bother to see what was trashed. There was an aerosol can which exploded from the heat. So that's what I mean about having them take risks in a controlled environment. Otherwise, kids tend to mame themselves in persuit of thrill seeking.

HMMMMMMMMM, you were one of those kids too? ;)

Hey, thanks for clarifying. Good example. Bonfires were actually a social occasion down at the beach when I was a kid, and an adult was always there. It was a great time for us kids and a good example of the balance I think we are talking about.

Unsupervised bonfires, well that's an extreme example of lack of parental control. Believe me, I am very fortunate to make it through childhood and I am in no way advocating high risk behavior for children. Sure, some kids get burned. Some kids are also kept in controlled environments and are never exposed to anything that threatens their parents "control" which makes them more vulnerable anyway.

If my child was reaching for the hot stove, I would grab their hand to stop them as would most people. Do they learn better from actual experience or listening to my words? I really can't say.

I'm not saying either extreme is better, it's up to the parents and their personal beliefs on child rearing.

;)

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What is "risk in a controlled environment"? Sounds like a lab experiment.

I meant it in things such as organized sports vs. a group of kids loitering behind a strip mall looking for some excitement - "Hey let's make a bonfire!" I knew a kid who got his face nearly burned off from that. They decided to use a metal drum that had garbage in it. They didn't bother to see what was trashed. There was an aerosol can which exploded from the heat. So that's what I mean about having them take risks in a controlled environment. Otherwise, kids tend to mame themselves in persuit of thrill seeking.

HMMMMMMMMM, you were one of those kids too? ;)

Hey, thanks for clarifying. Good example. Bonfires were actually a social occasion down at the beach when I was a kid, and an adult was always there. It was a great time for us kids and a good example of the balance I think we are talking about.

Unsupervised bonfires, well that's an extreme example of lack of parental control. Believe me, I am very fortunate to make it through childhood and I am in no way advocating high risk behavior for children. Sure, some kids get burned. Some kids are also kept in controlled environments and are never exposed to anything that threatens their parents "control" which makes them more vulnerable anyway.

If my child was reaching for the hot stove, I would grab their hand to stop them as would most people. Do they learn better from actual experience or listening to my words? I really can't say.

I'm not saying either extreme is better, it's up to the parents and their personal beliefs on child rearing.

;)

I went through a period of being fascinated with fire - used to stuff matches into model airplanes that I had assembled to 're-enact' one being shot down...hehehe. I grew up in a rural town (pop. about 3,000), and for the most part, all of us neighborhood kids would gather for a game of tag football, basketball or baseball on our huge acre lot. We had places to play which I think many kids today don't have. I think a lot of parents have over-reacted to the dangers of gangs and other delinquent behavior by letting their kids stay inside the safety of the home. What's left is television and video games. It's a bloody shame.

Edited by Steven_and_Jinky

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I think a lot of parents have over-reacted to the dangers of gangs and other delinquent behavior by letting their kids stay inside the safety of the home. What's left is television and video games. It's a bloody shame.

Yeah, safety is sooooo overrated :rolleyes::lol:

goodone9qx.jpg

Edited by LisaD

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I think a lot of parents have over-reacted to the dangers of gangs and other delinquent behavior by letting their kids stay inside the safety of the home. What's left is television and video games. It's a bloody shame.

Yeah, safety is sooooo overrated :rolleyes::lol:

goodone9qx.jpg

Awww...Lisa, is that you as a teenager? :lol:

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I think a lot of parents have over-reacted to the dangers of gangs and other delinquent behavior by letting their kids stay inside the safety of the home. What's left is television and video games. It's a bloody shame.

Yeah, safety is sooooo overrated :rolleyes::lol:

goodone9qx.jpg

Awww...Lisa, is that you as a teenager? :lol:

Well, being that I'm not a boy, I can't even see how this 'zinger' of yours is even the slightest bit witty or funny.

*yawn* try harder, son

or maybe not so hard...hahah...either one...

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I think a lot of parents have over-reacted to the dangers of gangs and other delinquent behavior by letting their kids stay inside the safety of the home. What's left is television and video games. It's a bloody shame.

Yeah, safety is sooooo overrated :rolleyes::lol:

goodone9qx.jpg

Awww...Lisa, is that you as a teenager? :lol:

Well, being that I'm not a boy, I can't even see how this 'zinger' of yours is even the slightest bit witty or funny.

*yawn* try harder, son

or maybe not so hard...hahah...either one...

I thought maybe you were just a late bloomer. :lol:

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