The Bubble (Wrap) is About to Burst
Courtesy: Hugh Kretschmer for Time.com
Instead of choosing a trashy mag (shocking) to read on the flight to FL with 4 kids under 6 years old last month, I decided to be a scholar, and pick up “Time“. It was the front cover that caught my attention:
THE CASE AGAINST OVER-PARENTING:
WHY MOM AND DAD NEED TO CUT THE STRINGS
(Author: Nancy Gibbs)
In lieu of summing up the ENTIRE article in my own words, I have copy/pasted a few choice sections that are very profound. I could not state any of these points better than Gibbs did, so I’m not going to try. I feel completely reinvigorated reading this article; primarily, I can associate with the psycho-mom’ish habits Gibbs references (as I was at fault, at least with my 1st child)… but by the time I had my 3rd, and then my 4th, I just didn’t have it in me to be up my kids’, or their educators’, tushes. I feel like I got it, even before being fixated on Gibbs’ remarks. I believe the best thing to do as a parent is to go back to the basics. The way our parents raised us, for the most part, worked out pretty darn well. I mean, look at me: pure perfection .
Here is a glimpse into a handful of select sections (all credited to the Author: Nancy Gibbs, Time Magazine):
The insanity crept up on us slowly; we just wanted what was best for our kids. We bought macrobiotic cupcakes and hypoallergenic socks, hired tutors to correct a 5-year-old’s “pencil-holding deficiency,” hooked up broadband connections in the treehouse but took down the swing set after the second skinned knee. We hovered over every school, playground and practice field — “helicopter parents,” teachers christened us, a phenomenon that spread to parents of all ages, races and regions. Stores began marketing stove-knob covers and “Kinderkords” (also known as leashes; they allow “three full feet of freedom for both you and your child”) and Baby Kneepads (as if babies don’t come prepadded). The mayor of a Connecticut town agreed to chop down three hickory trees on one block after a woman worried that a stray nut might drop into her new swimming pool, where her nut-allergic grandson occasionally swam. A Texas school required parents wanting to help with the second-grade holiday party to have a background check first. Schools auctioned off the right to cut the carpool line and drop a child directly in front of the building — a spot that in other settings is known as handicapped parking.
We were so obsessed with our kids’ success that parenting turned into a form of product development. Parents demanded that nursery schools offer Mandarin, since it’s never too soon to prepare for the competition of a global economy. High school teachers received irate text messages from parents protesting an exam grade before class was even over; college deans described freshmen as “crispies,” who arrived at college already burned out, and “teacups,” who seemed ready to break at the tiniest stress.
Towards the end of the article, Gibbs continues with the following:
Remember, Mistakes Are Good
Many educators have been searching for ways to tell parents when to back off. It’s a tricky line to walk, since studies link parents’ engagement in a child’s education to better grades, higher test scores, less substance abuse and better college outcomes. Given a choice, teachers say, overinvolved parents are preferable to invisible ones. The challenge is helping parents know when they are crossing a line.
Every teacher can tell the story of a student who needed to fail in order to be reassured that the world wouldn’t come to an end. Yet teachers now face a climate in which parents ghostwrite students’ homework, airbrush their lab reports — then lobby like a K Street hired gun for their child to be assigned to certain classes. Principal Karen Faucher instituted a “no rescue” policy at Belinder Elementary in Prairie Village, Kans., when she noticed the front-office table covered each day with forgotten lunch boxes and notebooks, all brought in by parents. The tipping point was the day a mom rushed in with a necklace meant to complete her daughter’s coordinated outfit. “I’m lucky — I deal with intelligent parents here,” Faucher says. “But you saw very intelligent parents doing very stupid things. It was almost like a virus. The parents knew that was not what they intended to do, but they couldn’t help themselves.” A guidance counselor at a Washington prep school urges parents to find a mentor of a certain disposition. “Make friends with parents,” she advises, “who don’t think their kids are perfect.” Or with parents who are willing to exert some peer pressure of their own: when schools debate whether to drop recess to free up more test-prep time, parents need to let a school know if they think that’s a trade-off worth making.
Kim John Payne, author of Simplicity Parenting, teaches seminars on how to peel back the layers of cultural pressure that weigh down families. He and his coaches will even go into your home, weed out your kids’ stuff, sort out their schedule, turn off the screens and help your family find space you didn’t know you had, like a master closet reorganizer for the soul. But any parent can do it just as well. “We need to quit bombarding them with choices way before their ability to handle them,” Payne says. The average child has 150 toys. “When you cut the toys and clothes back … the kids really like it.” He aims for a cut of roughly 75%: he tosses out the broken toys and gives away the outgrown ones and the busy, noisy, blinking ones that do the playing for you. Pare down to the classics that leave the most to the child’s imagination and create a kind of toy library kids can visit and swap from. Then build breaks of calm into their schedule so they can actually enjoy the toys.
Read more HERE
If you embrace this rather humbling reality, it will be easier to follow the advice D.H. Lawrence offered back in 1918: “How to begin to educate a child. First rule: leave him alone. Second rule: leave him alone. Third rule: leave him alone. That is the whole beginning.”
Of course, that was easy for him to say. He had no kids.
Read more HERE