A couple evenings ago I watched a show on Doc Zone called Hyper Parents & Coddled Kids. Nothing new there. Look around and you'll see spoiled brats everywhere. They show up late, don't pay their dues, are rude and obnoxious to strangers and blast their music in public, careless of whoever else has to hear it. I made a point to watch this show because it's a current and longstanding frustration of mine.
Interesting thing is I was raised with this generation. Somewhere around the early '80s with the self esteem movement is when the awfulness began. And I'm thinking it must have gotten progressively worse as more and more parents have tried to one-up each other in scheduling their child and fixing their problems. I mean, I got a trophy just for showing up to softball. There was self esteem biznass in elementary school. But my mom also let me reap the consequences of my own actions pretty much all the time. I was born in '82.
I grew up with kids being punished, held back and moved forward in grades according to their abilities, failed tests, awards for achievement and discipline in schools for laziness and rudeness. Parents left their kids in the car for a few minutes at the corner store. Kids took the school bus and waited outside for it and it drove away if you weren't there.
All the kids I know minus one or two had one activity, not three or four. Out of my school friends, one did gymnastics, another did figure skating. I took piano lessons. In the summer we played softball. I knew a couple boys took guitar. And then for the rest there were school sports-- which you had to try out for. I never made a team, though I tried.
The kids who I really think have been ruined were born a little later than that, maybe about four or five years later. I first noticed it in high school in my OAC year (That's the old grade 13 for you non-Ontario people). The school was flooded with grade nines, as usual. But this batch was different. They were noisier. They were more obnoxious. They had no regard for seniority.
They did things that my year wouldn't have dreamed of when we were in grade nine. They mouthed off to senior students, blocked them in the hallways, and generally behaved like they owned the place. People were talking about how entitled they were. I didn't know at the time that they were a taste of the new narcissists that had been reared into the world.
Now I'm 27 and high schoolers are ludicrous. And sure, there must be some sort of generation gap... but really? 10 years a generation does not make. I'm not so sure it's a gap. I'm still quite young, not in my 70s and reliving the good old days when people had respect. Frig, people have probably never had respect.
But you hear it all the time. Parents calling the schools to solve their children's problems. I go to belly dance with a swim instructor who can no longer fail children. Yeah. What? I so got my ass handed back to me in Maroon. They failed me and I took it, my mom took it and that was that. Obviously I was not ready to advance. Know what they do now? They changed the system to more levels and if a child can't meet all the requirements, they're labelled "weak swimmer" and moved on. According to the swim instructor, failing the children is not worth what the parents put you through. Like little Timmy won't get into Dartmouth if he fails swim class when he's 8 years old.
When I played softball at 8 years old, we kept score. This is considered in some circles to be too harsh. When I graduated elementary, one award was given to the best overall student. These days all children get a medal or none do. What's wrong with competition? I'm pretty sure these now 20-year-olds are going through life thinking they're pretty awesome without any actual proof.
Another good book to read about this topic is Pregnant Pause. I found the author occasionally obnoxious and judgemental (what does she care if a woman wants a home birth? The stats say it's not dangerous, if you actually read them), but in many other ways she totally hits the mark on what's wrong with raising children in today's world: other parents. She chronicles the BS names her friends and contemporaries are naming their kids, the lax attitudes towards discipline, the fear of the word "no" and the hyper maniacal scheduling and anxiety.
You know, I want children. I really do. And more over, I think more sensible people need to be breeding.