Thursday, December 23, 2004

Growing up late

"Sooner or later . . . most kids will be forced to confront their own mediocrity."

Yes. Mediocre. Most of our kids are mediocre. Sure, each is special in his or her own way, but when it comes to smarts and successes, they can't all be geniuses. Ah, the vastness of mediocrity.

This is probably harder for parents to accept than it is for the children themselves. Particularly when the parents are, umm, my age — a generation born in a period of transitioning parenting styles. Generation X hasn't yet confronted its own mediocrity. We parents just don't know any better.

Go read this article now. I don't know where to begin in quoting or summarizing this article. Much of what it says is not new, and is obvious, but it's worth repeating.

I think my kid's a genius. I need to be reminded that Helena is her own person, that I cannot expect her to live out my dreams and ambitions. Even when she develops her own, she will fail. She'll figure things out. From this we will learn and move forward.

Parents need to realize their kids aren't disadvantaged by the occasional setback; they're normal.

Did you know?: "Over 40,000 U.S. schools no longer have recess."

"Parents and schools are no longer geared toward child development, they're geared to academic achievement."

Parents overprotect and micromanage. These behaviours and responses to them become systematized in, for example, grade inflation. All of which breed ineffective coping mechanisms, sanctioned by today's technologies as they're assimilated into our society and culture; for instance, the instant gratification that cellphones enable.

Because of all this, it takes longer to grow up. "Postadolescence" lasts year more than it used to. You may be 30 years old before you're an "adult."

(Is that necessarily a bad thing? We live longer, we work longer. Our childhoods may be filled with never-before-felt pressures, so why not extend adolescence, assuming it's enjoyed?)

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... [R]esources 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."

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