Why American Parents Drive Me Nuts

Firstly, I get that writing about a topic like this (when 75% of my friends are parents) could be social suicide. But I’ve never been one (at least in recent times) to not blurt out how I feel about things. So I’m gonna let it fly.

Secondly, full disclosure here, I am not a parent. I am a dog parent, but I hardly think any human parent would say that qualifies as being a parent.

So, we’ve established that I’m not a parent. This is who I am:

A US Citizen.
A former nanny.
A friend of parents.
A former sorority adviser and current sorority director.
A volunteer at a kids camp and a children’s holiday store.

Why do I mention this experience? In any of these scenarios, I am interacting with children. Ok, in the collegiate sorority world, it is grown children- but much of the time there is no difference (seriously)! And in some circumstances, I am interacting with their parents.

I want to state again- I AM NOT A PARENT MYSELF. But what I am, is a part of society. And unfortunately or fortunately, Moms and Dads, society is who gets to interact with your bundles of joy (if and when) they move out of your house and get jobs/go to college/whathaveyou. I do want to clarify-  this opinion also does not affect all parents out there… but damn, it affects a lot of you. No joke.

When my pal Ange posted this New Yorker article on Facebook, I cheered. The title of the article is: Spoiled Rotten: Why Do Kids Rule the Roost? by Elizabeth Kolbert. I was happy to read this because someone out there wrote about how it really is to interact with our next generation. It describes what happens when your average-American spawn mingles with the real world and you don’t see it.

Janice D’Arcy of The Washington Post,  Are We Raising a Nation of Spoiled Brats?  summarizes Ms. Kolbert’s article if you don’t have time to read the whole piece.

I cannot believe the ‘helicopter mom/dad‘ phenomenon sweeping the nation right now. It’s really kind of weird. It’s like the whole hierarchy of family has been reversed where kids are CEO and Moms, Dads and the rest of the crew are the accounting and HR departments. Some people don’t even realize they are helicopter parenting. Here’s a quick quiz to find out if you’re a Blackhawk or not.

I recall a time when Thanksgiving dinners had a kid’s table. And I had to sleep on the floor or in the creaky old pull out couch at grandma’s because I knew where I was on the totem pole. Dead last, people. I was a friggin kid! Now, my Mom, sweetest lady alive, did do a lot for me- so ok, I am not the best at laundry or cooking. But dammit, I had to wait until Mom and Dad and Grandma and whomever got a chair/got their dinner plate/picked a gift first. I also had a job in high school. I interned and worked through college and put in my dues- and understood why- because everyone puts in their dues.

Speaking of paying your dues… I love this Louis CK bit- it’s right on the money. He can explain it just right- and he is actually a parent as well.

Listen, I know this old-lady moaning ain’t new. Elders used to complain about long hair in the 70’s and loud music in the 80’s. But the article hits some major points- isn’t it ok for your kid to get the skinned knee, have to wait just a little before getting dessert or a cell phone or a thong? Let them learn some of their own lessons, learn manners? Maybe exercise parental patience… I know a difficult practice in an age of speed and efficiency.

Not only will they make better spouses, friends, co-workers, students, and citizens, but their lives will actually be easier as adults. Coddling your kid for eighteen years is going to bring them some tougher challenges for the next eighty-one years. I’m just saying, let’s prepare our kids for the real world, because that is where they will end up one day… in the cubicle next door, on that flight to New York, or as someone’s significant other.

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