I was certain that childhood, as I remembered it, was headed for the crapper about twelve years ago when I was raising my first and Caillou was all the rage over on PBS. I could not stand that little whine-ass brat as he yapped episode after episode "But, Mommma, I don't waaaaaaaant to".
After what amounted to about two or three "nails to the chalkboard' hours of that sniffling brat crying about this or that (more often than not about his sister "Rowwwwwssssiiee"), I passed the law stating once Arthur's credits began to roll and we heard the words "hey! what a wonderful kind of day" sung, the power to the cable box was to go off.
Sure, I picked my battles when the kids were small, but I drew the line at Calliou and his goofy parents. They were planting seeds in my kids' minds that I did not appreciate.
Whine until you get what you want, undermine your goofy parents, who, by the way are, definitely tree huggers raising kids who didn't "come with any instructions" (you know the knuckleheads I speak of), complete weirdos who walk on eggshells and allow children to rule the roost for fear if they don't the brats "won't like them", and, please don't even get me started about what else Calliou can't help but yet his freaky parents allow.
That annoying, droning voice. What is wrong with me? I still loathe that little effer and I have not tuned into PBS for years. Seems like some twelve-fourteen years ago helicopter parents were born. Maybe they have always been around but as I started meeting these freaks at the playground reasoning and making deals with their spoiled off-spring I took more notice. Perhaps.
I cannot turn on the TV lately without a story about a teen suicide. Why? Why so many of these stories now? It makes me wonder if there is some type of correlation between kids raised in the "all about me" generation by parents with a "I'll catch you whenever you fall" mentality and their kids' incredible lack of coping skills .
If we are being honest, we will agree many children are micro-managed by overbearing parents long before they even depart the womb. Throughout their childhood and into elementary school protective parents stand by to protect them, change rules to appease them, and essentially negate a part of childhood that all kids should really become skilled in.
And then once the completely helpless kids head to high school the now teenagers,who completely lack independence are told no for the first time, or they cross paths with a kid that is going to tell them what they really think about them and the child who lacks the skill of independent thinking and more importantly the spotter who was usually always there for the inevitible fall is absent; and the kid essentially has the wind knocked out of them.
Some figure things out, but then there are the others who truly believe suicide is the only way to dull a new-to-them pain.
Do I know the two girls in Minnesota who hung themselves? No. Did they lack skills that would have guaranteed some type of independence? Not sure. Were the girls' parents those of the helicopter variety? I have no idea.
What I do know is there has to be some type of answer. Why are kids taking their lives in such high numbers all with the same after-story~"the bullying became too much".
My generation grew up with bullies. They were everywhere. At the park, on the bench next to you at a softball game, in the locker room, at the lunch table and sometimes even at your own dinner table. But I can tell you with certainty who wasn't there. Our parents fighting our battles.
Sure, they guided us, gave us tips on how to deal with the brats, but they never picked up the phone and called Mr. or Mrs. So-and-So to inform them of what a creep their Jr. was. That was up to us. We were told it was a lesson that would come in handy later in life as they assured us "you'll meet bullies your entire life, better you learn how to deal with them now."
And, so we figured out our problems relatively on our own. Sometimes it meant knocking the punk's lights out at the park. Other times it meant yelling back at the mean girls in the bathroom. Often it meant simply turning the other cheek.
Who knows why kids do what they do. I firmly believe we as parents need to stop making life so damn easy for them; it will only make it more difficult for them later. The realization that things don't always go their way shouldn't wait until they are teenagers. If we fail to point this fact out earlier in life, we leave them at a tremendous disadvantage later.
Life sometimes is unfair. Why shield them from this nugget of info? Children need a firm foundation. We should make sure it includes an underlying of independence. Kids need to learn how to stand up for themselves. We cannot always be there to fight their battles.
Parenting is a tough job. Anything worthwhile usually is. It is difficult watching our kids fall when it would be so easy to cushion the blow. We have got to find a way to let them fail. In this way we let them know that it is okay to fall down just as long as they find a way back up.
There is no easy answer. Besides Calliou I've compiled my list of things that are different in raising the "me generation" by "my generation". I'll admit I am guilty of more than a few.
There is nothing wrong with wanting our kids to have a better life than we had, every generation wants that. But we should also provide them the skills and guidance in which to achive the wonderful life they so deserve.