i have been watching and thinking about our kids...a lot. i worry about them. i worry that they are marketed to at an alarming rate. i worry that they are being hypnotized by television. i worry about what they eat. of course, i have started a non-profit so that i can take action and not just worry (www.christinapirello.org) hint-hint...
then i heard this really interesting and disturbing report on npr yesterday. two psychologists from harvard have released findings that our kids are over-scheduled and without coping skills. they said that parents, in an attempt to experience success through their kids' success, have created a generation of children who are unable to cope with life's little (and big) challenges. and it's being seen at the college level too, with kids suffering breakdowns at a near-epidemic rate. and why? because they have no idea how to handle all the challenges that come with living independently of their parents.
i am of the generation that had parents who made us fend for ourselves...to a degree. they never put us at risk, but they showed us that actions had consequences and they taught us how to be strong and independent. if we faced a problem, our parents did not come running to our rescue. we had to figure out a solution. if we messed up, they guided us, but they didn't bail us out at every bump in the road of life. they taught us respect...for them and for ourselves. they taught us to how to handle disappointment.
i remember going to my mother once with what i thought was a crisis. i was on the basketball team, but the drama club was holding tryouts and rehearsal would be at the same time as basketball practice. i expected my mother to solve it. she told me that life was about choices, so i had to decide what i wanted to do and pick one activity. but she reminded me that i had committed to the basketball team, so i have the responsibility to speak to the coach. if she released me from practice, i could try out for the play. if not, not. i begged her to talk to the coach so i wouldn't have to...she told me that she wasn't the one who wanted 'out' of her responsibility. so it was on me. i summoned my courage and spoke to the coach, who released me for tryouts, telling me that if i got a part, i would have to decide. i stuck with basketball and i learned how to handle a situation where i have to choose.
our parents were hard on us and i remember being so mad when they made is stand on our own two feet. but as i look back, they taught me self-reliance and respect. they taught me to think for myself and not to be so easily swayed. they taught me to step up and take responsibility. they taught me to take risks. they taught me how to handle success...and failure.
i feel so bad for our kids. they are wonderful, young, energetic, curious and the hope of our future. it's time to stop insulating them from life and allow them to embrace it for all that is has to offer. it's time to let them fall...be there to catch them if they need catching, but let them see what life is about while they still have their families to cushion the blow.
let's produce a generation of self-reliant, flexible, respectful, open, vital and strong people, not spoiled, self-absorbed, weak people without the capacity to face challenge. that would be this culture's greatest tragedy.