It’s funny how we have been living in families for so many thousands of years, but the modern family is so new that we don’t really understand the dynamics of it. Our relationships to our partners is new where love as the basis for marriage came around less than 100 years ago. Our relationships to children is dramatically different, with social influences and online access to information there are many outside influences that we may not agree with.
We are in the age of privilege where entitlement is a common complaint of the upcoming generation. Kids these days hardly hear the word no, and rarely have to wait to get the toys they want. It boggles my mind because it seems like we are making the parenting job so much more difficult.
I agree with child labor laws to prevent us from working our children, but now we also seem to limit their contributions around the house. As kids help less and less around the house, parents now have to work more to fill in that deficit. And now that the kids are bored, without a sense of purpose, we have to create positive activities and parents rush around to get their kids to soccer practice on Monday night, Scouts meetings on Tuesday, the Math Tutor on Wednesday, a soccer fundraiser on Thursday, and Joey’s house on Friday night.
Jennifer Senior captured my thoughts exactly in her Ted Talk. I suggest listening to the excerpt on the TED Radio Hour which interweaves an interview with Jennifer between the TED presentation. She gets to this point: we have limited our goal of parenting to “Making them Happy.” Now we all can debate the success of this goal for ourselves, and everyone we know. But my question is how do we get back to wanting to teach our children “to function as an adult.” I see it in my nephews, and people all around us. They are not learning to how to make a plan, solve problems themselves, manage finances, challenge advertising claims which may be deceiving.
Well Bruce Feiler’s Ted Talk addresses this issue and proposes a solution. A way to get your kids to do more that helps out the family, and teaches them responsibility to be successful in life.
Well I might be biased, growing up as the oldest of 5 kids I had the responsibility burden when there were problems in the family. Some people pity my childhood of cleaning, cooking and laundry for the whole family starting at age 9, but I wouldn’t trade my situation now. No debt, paid for school, motivated and confident enough to pursue what I think is right for me. People want to think that they are raising good people, and that is enough. Well all my siblings are good people because of our family values, so yes that is important. But one sibling did not get the responsibility role and now struggles to provide for himself and his family. His work ethic is just a bit different and my parents still support him in various ways.
I think we need to give kids more responsibility, teach them how to get through it, and be supportive as they learn, but continue adding increased responsibility. We see so many outreach programs for kids that have positive effects, many of them are successful due to the opportunity for responsibility given to young people. This is the best time for them to learn, we should not rob them of that opportunity.