Monday, November 12, 2007

Parenting Expert Speaks the Truth

I hate television news. I don't turn it on. Ever. The worst offenders of total crap "news" are the local stations, in my book. As you know from my posts about closed captioning foibles on the news, I have been working out at the gym a few mornings a week with the local news in my face, which is sort of amusing sometimes if I can put aside my irritation with it.

But today there was actually something important televised on Chicago's ABC-7 News! Of course, it only lasted about 30 seconds, but there was a local parenting expert named Karen Jacobson who was speaking out on two parenting topics I could talk about for hours if anyone could stand it to listen.

1. From the ABC-7 website, here is what she said first:

"...there is a new group of "at-risk" children growing up today and it's because of these parenting traps that a lot of families are falling into -- the trap of over-scheduling, over-stimulation, over-protection, over-involvement, over-praising, over-scheduling, over-indulging.

The research shows that the new "at-risk" population is children of affluence - college campuses across the nation are reporting that anxiety, depression, and drug and alcohol use are at an all time high largely because when these kids get on their own, they do not know how to cope (we well-meaning parents have protected them from struggle, disappointment and negative situations)."

2. And next:

"Jacobson suggests that parents take time to give children the gifts that really matter such as the gift of downtime, struggle, disappointment, empathy, chores, responsibility, limits, consequences, and mistakes."

Amen, sister. I know I've already written about the first point as it relates to my family. As for the second point, many modern parents are so often getting into a pattern of doing everything imaginable to circumvent their children's minor disappointments in order to avoid tantrums and tears. They fear that the child might remember that they had a negative experience with Mommy or Daddy! Well, yes, they probably will.

But you know what else they remember, which is also important? Kids remember that they got through it. They learn strategies to cope, just as Ms. Jacobson pointed out, which leads to an increased sense of competence and self-confidence. From what I can see, a lot of children are being deprived of this critical learning experience. We need to find the balance between old school authoritarian parenting and modern day overly child-centered parenting.

It's not easy to find this balance, but it is a gift to our children, one that truly does keep on giving.


Niksmom said...

AMEN! Everytime my mother says "I guess I wasn't a very good mother for making you do (insert name of disagreeable life lesson here)" I tell her she did a great job. She raised 3 very capable women (if I do say so myself!) who are able to handle the crap life throws at us on a daily basis. Not so with a lot of today's kids.

Lori at Spinning Yellow said...

Oh, yes, I agree - "We need to find the balance between old school authoritarian parenting and modern day overly child-centered parenting."

I just don't know how!