Why are American kids so spoiled? Help me understand this article. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 47 Old 06-28-2012, 01:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Read the article first: http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2012/07/02/120702crbo_books_kolbert

 

Then tell me what to make of it. This is pushing all my parental insecurity buttons.


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#2 of 47 Old 06-28-2012, 04:11 PM
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I'm seeing a couple things here....because it dings my parental insecurities too. LOL

 

1. Our level of expectation of kids in the industrialized world is weird.  We expect them both to behave like adults (asking a 5 year old to go take a bath without accompaniment? Yeah, not really gonna happen), and to behave like children.  So our expectations are unrealistic on both sides, I feel. 

 

2. standard of living is vastly different.  we have very little that *has* to be done to survive, and what we do have to do certainly doesn't entail fishing and gathering of leaves to build our homes. I think we have been accustomed to that - seeing a 6 year old do that kind of work would inevitable garner cries of "but she's so young!  I'm so glad we live here when our children don't have to do that!" 

 

There's a whole theory I have about the baby boomers parents and how they made a decision to change things, and from there we've been moving toward and extended childhood/adolescence. Not to say that is necessarily bad, but that is has changed how a child is relevant in today's society.

 

I think there is also the pace of our life to consider - the author touches on this briefly. We need things to happen on a certain schedule, in a certain time frame, not at the kid's realistic pace.  I remember being given chores as a kid, and still working on them hours later - especially when I was staying with my grandparents.  The thing had to get done, but they were happy to let me finish it and learn, no matter how long it took.  I find myself unwilling a lot of the time to let my daughter do that because we have to be someplace, or do something, or i need to be in the kitchen making dinner...etc  So I just do it. 

 

So, this girl may have been sweeping or catching fish without the pressure of having to get it done in a certain time frame, just by imitating her parents, and they allowed her that time - and then she knew it had to be done, and was proficient at it.  There are a couple of things that my daughter does like that - setting the table, sweeping the kitchen.  Etc.  But she always does them better when I just let her do them, but don't impose a time limit.

 

I don't think that means the kids are spoiled rotten - but a product of the society/environment we live in, much as the tribal family was of theirs.  

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#3 of 47 Old 06-28-2012, 08:58 PM
 
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I think the article is very flawed, and that she fishes around for anything she can use to make her argument.  Case in point is the shoe tying thing.  Kids can't/won't tie their shoes like they used to because velcro and slip-on shoes are now the norm. 

 

U.S. kids ARE generally more materially privileged today than in the past.  So are adults.  The adults who make the biggest deal about saying 'no' to children are often the ones who don't say 'no' to themselves.

 

Parenting does not exist, as the author implies, on a single spectrum ranging from "permissive" to "authoritarian."  Attachment parenting (or consensual living, or radical unschooling, to name a few related philosophies) is neither permissive nor authoritarian.  It's a different model altogether. Those who practice these philosophies seem to end up with teenagers less likely to do the whole prolonged adolescent thing.

 

Also, attachment parenting is not helicopter parenting.  I would never have let my baby cry for five minutes like the French woman mentioned in the article, but I used to let my two-year-old drink out of an actual drinking glass instead of a sippy cup.  I don't tell my kids no to teach them to handle disappointment, but I have a five-year-old who can make a pot of coffee from start to finish, and who with very little assistance can bake a loaf of homemade bread.

 

If you're worried about ending up with middle-aged teenagers, promote the kind of autonomy and independence that your children seem interested in.  Let them dress themselves, even if their fashion sense is lacking and people look at you funny.  Teach your eight-year-old to use the gas stove.  Let your four-year-old operate the vacuum cleaner. 

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#4 of 47 Old 06-28-2012, 10:57 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Luckiestgirl View Post

 

Parenting does not exist, as the author implies, on a single spectrum ranging from "permissive" to "authoritarian." 

 

Totally agree. I also don't know how any one can define "American" parenting because the range is SO HUGE. I also don't think I know what "mainstream" really is anymore. My kids are teens, and when they were tots I knew was "mainstream" parenting was, but as they've grown and the issues have changed, it's a lot less defined. Some of the people I see parenting their teens in similar ways to us were also AP, but many weren't.

 

One of the many problems with the article is comparing the way a child acts away from parents with how a child acts at home. Any experienced parent can you that is comparing apples to oranges. My kids go to a school that takes overnight fields trips and has an outdoor skills programs, and according to the staff, my children are amazingly helpful, hardworking, take initiative, and never whine. I don't see any of that at home. They act like I'm asking for a kidney when I request they pick their towel up off the floor.

 

I was surprised to see an article on this topic that failed to mention The Continuum Concept or families in the US that have tried to implement these principles. For THOUSANDS of families, this idea isn't new, even though it is breaking news to the author. It would be far more interesting to see an article comparing American families to American families, and seeing how kids in the same culture turn out with different parenting choices.

 

I suspect the degree to which I'm around families that do things a little different shades my opinion. My DH and I value the kids doing real work and our kids attend an alternative school where kids do real work with tools, so we are also around other families with the same values. My 14 year old on went on a program at a university this summer where she stayed in a dorm, went to lectures, ate in the student union, etc. The kids were 14-16 and this was a select program that required a transcript, letter of recommendation, etc. But it was a regular program -- not our sheltered community of like minded parents. And some (not all) of the kids didn't know how to put sheets on their beds. I don't know how normal that is. I'm really curious now how many teens can't really make a bed, or do a load of laundry.  But my kid came home shocked at her peers, and surprised that these kids all had solid PGAs.

 

For moms of younger kids, my advice would be to read The Continuum Concept and use it as inspiration. Find ways to include your children in the real work that you do. But don't let it drive you crazy, because there is only so much you can do to implement these ideas in our culture.

 

I found it possible to treat my babies like babies, my children like children, and now in the teen years be all about developing independence and life skills. I think sometimes our culture gets is backwards -- treating children like teens/adults and allowing babyish behavior from teens.

 

One of the things I think the author gets wrong is the image of the adults in a child's life acting like staff and catering to children's every whims. Although it happens, I suspect in many families, it's a reaction to the amount of time spent away from the child, rather than how the child is being treated 24/7. I've seen the exact behavior from my husband, who travels with his job. When he does get time with the kids, he wants to keep them happy and do things for them. It can't happen all the time because he isn't even here that much, and it's so obviously an attempt to make up for what is missing. I suspect that for parents who are aware of the danger of doing *too much* for child AND have adequate amount of time with their kids, this is pretty easy to avoid.

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#5 of 47 Old 06-29-2012, 04:02 AM
 
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Most of the adults I know pay people to clean their houses and help out with their kids and own every gadget that has ever been invented and they're not complaining.

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#6 of 47 Old 06-29-2012, 06:44 AM
 
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This reminds me of this opionion piece - not about spoiled kids, but about the the possibly frenetic pace of parenting life in the US.

 

The Non-Joie of Parenting, US-style

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/08/opinion/sunday/the-non-joie-of-parenting-us-style.html


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#7 of 47 Old 06-29-2012, 07:11 AM
 
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I don't think parents in the United States are so terrible. 

 

I think journalism about parenting in the United States is pretty terrible, though. 

 

This article is one of several complaining about how our generation is raising kids. I read a similar one in the Atlantic last year. There are frequent examples all over the media. We're too protective! We're helicopters! 

 

Dang, our children aren't hunter-gathers. We're so terrible, because our children aren't independent like the French. Or the Germans. We're awful because we don't discipline as harshly as (traumatized) new immigrants from China. (The Tiger Mom piece, remember that?) Our kids are slobs! We suck! aAAAAAaaaaa!

 

It's a load of hooey. 

 

 

I'm really sorry that some wealthy American lady's kid who lives in Paris couldn't sit still in a restaurant when the other kids could. Could we please see some journalism about the real problems of children in the United States? We have a shocking number of families who can't feed or house their kids. This is, I think, more newsworthy. 


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#8 of 47 Old 06-29-2012, 07:20 AM
 
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I was really bothered by the premise of this article.  It starts by setting up one single example of a child's behavior in one setting and then offers some counter examples of other children's behavior in other settings.  The way the paper is set up totally overgeneralizes and selectively identifies its examples.  Do all children in Peru act like that all the time?  No way!  Do all children in Los Angelos act like the other examples all the time?  No way?  Social science requires systematic analysis--- the anthropolgists whose work was presented in the article surely know that they need to contextualize and compare within the case to see what differences emerge.  I'm sure their research papers actually talk about a range of behaviors among different groups of children and look at how cultural factors shape those behaviors-- are the girls more likely to obey/help/work, for example.  Not merely select the two most extreme examples and contrast them with one another for shock effect. 

 

I also think that there's a conflation between having material goods and obeying parents requests (the examples given in the start).  Further, I think there's a big difference between obeying parents requests and generally being a cooperative part of a family.  Do I think Americans are too consumerist and materialistic?  Absolutely... that's the American dream and the birthright of capitalism!  Do I think that American kids are spoiled brats?  Not necessarily.  Having an Ipad does not mean that a kid won't take a bath.  It means a kid has an Ipad.  We can examine the implications of having the Ipad (production issues regarding labor and environmental cost & shipping, increased screen time, increased inequality between kids in schools, etc...) but that doesn't translate to being a disobedient and thoughtless person.

 

I do think that there are serious problems for many kids in the U.S. today and that some of them stem from materialist/consumerist culture but I don't think that it's doing kids or parents any good to simply label kids spoiled and blame parents for it.  I think if we want to look at the problems here we need to look at capitalism which requires people to work more and more hours for less and less pay to acquire more and more goods.  And, the impact of working more and more on our ideas about leisure time and quality time.   And, the way that we, as a culture, value caring work overall.  

 

Ugh.  I think I wish I hadn't clicked on that link... 

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#9 of 47 Old 06-29-2012, 09:28 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

One of the many problems with the article is comparing the way a child acts away from parents with how a child acts at home. Any experienced parent can you that is comparing apples to oranges. My kids go to a school that takes overnight fields trips and has an outdoor skills programs, and according to the staff, my children are amazingly helpful, hardworking, take initiative, and never whine. I don't see any of that at home. They act like I'm asking for a kidney when I request they pick their towel up off the floor.

 

This is a really good point.

 

One thing that I see somewhat differently from the author is his or her idea that our kids have more authority over their lives than kids living in tribal cultures. The lifestyle descirbed in The Continuum Concept seems very similar to radical unschooling to me.


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#10 of 47 Old 06-29-2012, 11:25 AM
 
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Hmm well we're shown a false dichotomy first of all -mowing the lawn with a machete at 3, or not moving out of your house at 30 - and also I don't think most parents would think their children were better off if they had to work all the time and didn't have time to play and have fun like children in communities where survival requires more physical work and children have to contribute as well. I'm glad my children live somewhere they can have a childhood without that level of responsibility at that age.

I do think there is a parenting trend of feeling like you have to entertain your kids all the time and not wanting your kids to have any obstacles to face, but I think it's a minority of parents who fall as deeply into that trend as the article suggests. And some of the issues might be more about having time than wanting kids to have responsibility. If you want a kid to learn to do something, it will take them much much much longer to do it than it takes you while they are learning, and it will take a while before they can do it quickly. Also, while they're learning, you will have to have them re-do parts of it, and then probably finish up parts they had trouble with. It's a big time commitment. I think a lot of parents just don't have the time to invest. Even shoe tying. It's time to leave the house. Put your shoes on. Wait 10 minutes for the shoes to get properly tied, and leave. There isn't always an extra 10 minutes.

Also, and it's been said before here, older generations have been complaining about the newer generation for EVERY. Ancient Romans did it, we do it, and it'll be done forever in the future. Somehow, every generation manages.
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#11 of 47 Old 07-01-2012, 03:09 PM
 
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One of the many problems with the article is comparing the way a child acts away from parents with how a child acts at home. Any experienced parent can you that is comparing apples to oranges. My kids go to a school that takes overnight fields trips and has an outdoor skills programs, and according to the staff, my children are amazingly helpful, hardworking, take initiative, and never whine. I don't see any of that at home. They act like I'm asking for a kidney when I request they pick their towel up off the floor.

 

This is sooooo true. I've had raves about ds1 constantly since he was in kindergarten. Parent volunteers from Cub Camp have gone out of their way to tell me how great it was to have him in their cabin, because he's so helpful and kind and all the rest. He got a rave review as a counselor at Outdoor School (including showing initiative, stepping up to help out, etc.).  He's been going above and beyond since he started school - helping out with younger kids, pitching in for classroom chores, etc. Around here? "Hey, ds1 - don't forget to take out the recycling." "Whyyyyy?". "Umm...because that's been your chore for five years." "Okaaaayyy - just a second." Repeat. Repeat again. Let's go another round. As far as I can tell, people don't even have to ask him to help in any other location.

 

His future roommates and/or wife, if any, are going to hate me.

 

 

And some (not all) of the kids didn't know how to put sheets on their beds. I don't know how normal that is. I'm really curious now how many teens can't really make a bed, or do a load of laundry.  But my kid came home shocked at her peers, and surprised that these kids all had solid PGAs.

 

DS1 probably can't make a bed properly, because it's just not something I do. I haven't actually made a bed in at least 20 years. I gave him the basics a long time ago, but I don't follow up on it. He's been doing his own laundry since he was 12, though - and I probably would have started him on it sooner, except that our living situation made it more hassle than it was worth. I've certainly known quite a few teens who haven't done their own laundry, and don't know how to wash dishes, though. (This one is one where I've blown it with ds1. He can, and does, load, run, and unload a dishwasher, but he never does hand dishes.

 

For moms of younger kids, my advice would be to read The Continuum Concept and use it as inspiration. Find ways to include your children in the real work that you do. But don't let it drive you crazy, because there is only so much you can do to implement these ideas in our culture.

 

I think the cultural aspect is important, and so is the time thing. I know it's my choice to have quite a lot going on, but we do have it, and it makes it hard to let the kids take the time to complete some chore that I can do in 10 minutes, but will take them an hour or more. (This was a huge issue with ds1. I was swamped when he was a kid, and simply didn't have the time to let him do things himself.)

 

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#12 of 47 Old 07-01-2012, 05:43 PM
 
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DS1 probably can't make a bed properly, because it's just not something I do. I haven't actually made a bed in at least 20 years.

 

 

ROFL! I didn't mean live up to my grandmother's standards of housekeeping, but rather, when in a situation with a naked mattress on a frame and a pile of sheets and blankets, be able to work it out so they have a place to sleep without getting help from an adult.


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#13 of 47 Old 07-01-2012, 05:53 PM
 
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I think our parenting is different because we are raising kids to be successful in a different society where striving for possessions is something that drives success. Materialism is an issue for sure but it also motivates many people to work hard in order to possess things and I don't think this is something that has changed much in the last thirty years, the items have changed but our definition of success as possessing certain things hasn't changed.

I am not convinced that a child who wants to have their shoe tied or wants to avoid a shower is something to worry about or feel like a parenting failure about. I am sure there are many successful adults who went through a clingy stage and/or a refusal to bathe age and got over it with no long term damage. The idea that these things point to a parenting problem is hilarious. I agree with the pp who said the problem is with the reporting.
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#14 of 47 Old 07-02-2012, 11:09 AM
 
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ROFL! I didn't mean live up to my grandmother's standards of housekeeping, but rather, when in a situation with a naked mattress on a frame and a pile of sheets and blankets, be able to work it out so they have a place to sleep without getting help from an adult.

 

Oh. Gotcha.


Yeah - ds1 does that. He takes care of all his own laundry. Actually, as part of his chores these days (we had to work something out, as he's still living here free, but is almost never actually home - I refuse to let him use our house as a hotel), he also does the bed linens for all his siblings every week. That means he strips the beds, washes and dries the sheets and pillowcases, and then makes the beds again. We've had some flaws in the process and have had to transfer a load and/or put the sheets back on, a few times, but he generally gets it done. (He even took it upon himself to leave the sheets one week, and do the comforters, as they hadn't been done in a while. I was impressed that he even thought of it.)

 

I just don't make beds, beyond putting on the bottom sheet, and more-or-less lining up the top sheet. I hate having the top sheet tucked in, anyway.


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#15 of 47 Old 07-02-2012, 11:56 AM
 
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I subscribe to the New Yorker and also read a lot of on-line chatter about this article.  Like PPs, I think the author's comparison between the Peruvian child (whose particular hunter/gatherer culture was/is spent on community-related efforts) and present, modern-day American parenting was deeply flawed for reasons that others have mentioned.  I probably would have taken it more seriously if it had been a comparison between simliar cultures with similar economic structures.  Even then, there are many variables.  There are stark differences between the way I parent and the way my siblings parent.  I'm not sure if that will produce different results or more or less "spoiled" children or if it even really matters in our modern age.  I know a lot of people and frankly I don't know anyone who is still at home at age 30.  My guess is that if children are moving back to their parents at 30 (or never leave), it has less to do with spoiling and more to do with the economic climate that affects so many people now.  Having massive college debt doesn't help either and much of that, in my opinion, is the result of the skyrocketing cost of college, lack of jobs, stagnant wages, etc.  I'm not sure why the concept of family looking out for each other (when time and finances permit) is so frowned upon here, other than the idea that at some magic age we are supposed to be independent? 

 

My other gripe is:  how many people are in the U.S. alone?  Some 320 million or more?  She gave a smattering of examples (kid not tying his own shoe) and seems to apply that to the whole. 

 

I would also like someone to explain to me what "spoiled" means?  There has been a long-standing misunderstanding in our culture, at least, that onsies (only children) are "spoiled" because all resources (mental, emotional and financial) are directed to them.  There's been an idea that some children, by the virtue of the stuff that they have, are spoiled.  It seems that everyone grasps at straws trying to define the spoiled child, but what happens are these massive generalizations.  I always thought that being spoiled was a state of mind.  A state of mind where one is clueless/ungrateful as to his/her good fortune and spends little effort on contributing to the whole.  We could spend all day analyzing whether a kid who doesn't tie his shoes is spoiled or not.  It seems futile to me.  I wish we would spend more time writing articles about how we could instill a sense of community and contribution in our own culture.  I think the greater ill is that we have lost a sense of community.  Maybe it is that individualist streak in American culture that has been our demise.  Sorry, I'm starting to rant but the same people that complain about "spoiled" kids are probably the same people who espouse "Not my problem."  Kettle/pot?  Hello?  eyesroll.gif

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#16 of 47 Old 07-02-2012, 12:13 PM
 
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#17 of 47 Old 07-02-2012, 09:00 PM
 
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So today I was reading an article about the economy in The New Yorker, and it quoted stats about how the number of new households per year has been dropping for the last 4 years, but rather than being seen as a sign of bad parenting, it was seen as an economic indicator. It also has a negative effect on the economy, because when young adults continue to live with parents, they don't buy durable goods like refrigerators and washing machines.

 

Rather than comparing this to tribal cultures, they compared it to European ones, where living home until older was already the norm before the economic downturn. The author's guess was that we would go back to our American ways as the economy picks up (moving out to live alone and pay rent), rather than growing to be more like the Italians (living with extended family until ready to settle down and start nuclear families).

 

I seriously doubt that most tribal cultures have an artificial age by which people are expected to just go live alone and get the heck out of their parent's hut.  There may be more pressure to select a mate at a younger age and start having babies, but I doubt most of us consider that a particularly positive thing.

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#18 of 47 Old 07-03-2012, 04:29 AM
 
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Yes, from what I've read about a few different tribal cultures, it sounds like married couples aren't exactly "on their own," either. It doesn't sound like anyone is really on his or her own.

 

Also, according to Liedloff's description of the Yequana in TCC, there is absolutely no pressure on children to start contributing to the group. Children are free to play until such time as they get interested in participating in adult economic activity, which usually happens at a fairly young age.

 

And it sounds like the children's activities have little to no adult direction, which is in stark contrast to American culture where there are so many expectations regarding how children should be spending their time. Many Americans would see it as child abuse or neglect if American children were allowed the freedome to roam and explore that the Yequana children are.


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#19 of 47 Old 07-03-2012, 07:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the responses, everyone! I knew I'd hear some wise commentary from the MDC mamas. I was starting to feel like I needed to have my daughter ready for the work force by the age of 7, or she'd be doomed to an adulthood of mooching beer out of my fridge.

 

I generally like the New Yorker and Elizabeth Kolbert has written some great stuff about the environmental movement. But this piece is a real clunker.

 

And I totally agree with PPs that it would be nice to have some journalism about parenting that actually covers legitimate issues! I guess that's why I tune in here...


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One more note...

 

After reading this article, I did start paying attention to how many things I do for my daughter (who is 3.5) rather than letting her do things for herself. And I realized that there were many instances when I could let her do things on her own. I had my partner read the article, and both of us are trying to give DD more independence. Usually when we just give up and do things for her, it's because of the time crunch (as others have mentioned). So I'm definitely working on becoming more aware of how I can give more space to myself and to her, so that she can be more independent. And that feels like a good thing.

 

We traveled to a wedding over the weekend and let her pick out 1 toy to take with her (which turned into 3 toys, but OK, they fit in her backpack, so no big deal). And the funny thing was, even those three toys were more than she needed. We didn't even read the books that we packed. I keep cluing in to how little she needs to in order to entertain herself, when we just put her in situations where she has to figure it out.

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#21 of 47 Old 07-03-2012, 11:46 AM
 
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. I keep cluing in to how little she needs to in order to entertain herself, when we just put her in situations where she has to figure it out.

 

To me, this is a really positive thing to take away from what I thought was  a negative article. I love seeing my kid grow as a person and be ready for more than I thought he was. 


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#22 of 47 Old 07-05-2012, 08:25 AM
 
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I felt that this article has at least something to take away from. The culture I grew up in instils respect for your parents,good behaviour in public,and respect for your elders,and we were quite independent from a young age. There were good traits we learned as kids,but we were not treated as equals,and often times not given much respect as an individual. When I had kids, I read a bunch of parenting books on how to respect your kids,and talk to them as you would talk to a dinner guest,among other things. While I completely get the point of both sides,I feel that there has to be some middle ground in between. No, I wouldn't let my baby cry for 5mins every time he cries before picking him up,but yes, I will ignore my kids when I'm having a conversation,because I do believe they need to learn the lesson that they aren't the centre of the universe. Lets face it,everything that comes out of a 5yr old's mouth isn't riveting! 

I feel that kids aren't allowed to do much of anything on their own. At the playground,parents are always settling arguments and making sure there's no rough play,but this is what kids learn from. I agree that if they are not left to their own devices,they will constantly be looking to an 'authority' figure to settle any disagreements. I also see kids being disrespectful to their parents,and it's just brushed under the rug,and the kids are free to say mean things to their parents in the name of self expression,and this is what I can't bring myself to agree with. I understand speaking to your kids respectfully,but when they disrespect you like that, they need to know that that is unacceptable.

While I do do a lot of chores for my kids,and they enjoy alot of freedoms,they also understand that they aren't the only ones to walk the face of the planet. When I need a rest,they are respectful of that,and will help me out when I ask for it.So,while I don't have my 4yr old cutting grass with a machette, they are independent to a certain degree,and understand that we all help each other out,and not just me doing all the work for them.

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#23 of 47 Old 07-05-2012, 09:45 AM
 
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The Matsigenka prize hard work and self-sufficiency.

 

 

Let me give a big, fat DUH to that. The Matsigenka's lives depend on hard work and self-sufficiency. This is the glaring difference between the Matsigenka and the Southern California tribe in this example. 

 

It probably seems kinda corny compared to all the social-studies themed books mentioned here, but one great example of a child raised on hard work and self-sufficiency is Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Farmer Boy", about Laura's husband Almonzo when he was a little boy.  Here's this from Wikipedia, much more succinct than I can be, bolding is mine:

 

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The book covers one year in Almanzo's life, beginning just before his ninth birthday, and describes in detail the endless chores involved in running the Wilder family farm. Young as he is, Almanzo rises before 5 a.m. every day to milk several cows and feed stock. In the growing season, he plants and tends crops; in winter, he hauls logs, helps fill the ice house, trains a team of young oxen, and sometimes—when his father can spare him—goes to school.

 

 

Almonzo's home life is a working production.  His father raises horses for sale. Almonzo is required to do real work, work that is interesting, that the whole family production depends upon. He's not even nine years old.  At the end of the book, one year later, having proven he can handle some responsibility his father gives him two ponies to raise for himself.  I'm betting most parents think their not-quite 10 y.o.'s are incapable of that kind of responsibility.

 

The thing is, what kid would not rather spend their time caring for and playing with their own ponies, compared to cleaning up their rooms and folding laundry??  Seriously, is it any wonder that parents have to cajole their kids to bring the groceries in, take the garbage out, keep their rooms neat, do their homework?  The family production simply is NOT going to fall apart if these things aren't done. 

 

I think mandated education is key to this, but that's a whole other thread.

 

Edited to add, regarding manners, respect, how we allow our kids to treat US, Jvdsista I completely agree with this,

 

 

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#24 of 47 Old 07-05-2012, 11:46 AM
 
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One more note...

 

After reading this article, I did start paying attention to how many things I do for my daughter (who is 3.5) rather than letting her do things for herself. And I realized that there were many instances when I could let her do things on her own. I had my partner read the article, and both of us are trying to give DD more independence. Usually when we just give up and do things for her, it's because of the time crunch (as others have mentioned). So I'm definitely working on becoming more aware of how I can give more space to myself and to her, so that she can be more independent. And that feels like a good thing.

 

We traveled to a wedding over the weekend and let her pick out 1 toy to take with her (which turned into 3 toys, but OK, they fit in her backpack, so no big deal). And the funny thing was, even those three toys were more than she needed. We didn't even read the books that we packed. I keep cluing in to how little she needs to in order to entertain herself, when we just put her in situations where she has to figure it out.

 

 

I also agree with a pp about this being a positive thing to take out of a negative article.

 

While I agree the article was not well done and very extreme, I find truth in that a lot of parents I know do not believe their children are capable of doing things for themselves. To be very honest,  I think it has to do with not finding value in taking the time to teach or allowing the time for children to learn to do these tasks. 

I had a cashier horrified the other day that I was letting my five year old bag the groceries. My dd was doing a pretty good job and fairly quickly too but this woman kept asking me to take over and telling dd to be careful. When my dd picked up a bottle of salad dressing that was in a glass bottle the cashier freaked out and was so worried she would break it.

It drove me crazy that people think a five year old can't pick up a jar that doesn't even weigh a pound. She knows what glass is. She knows to be careful. What's the issue? 

I think the issue is a lot of us aren't even giving our kids a chance to learn basic skills and then as a society just want to label them as lazy and spoiled when it's really that they haven't been given the opportunity to try and/or have never been asked in the first place.

I also think this is where the materialism part of it comes in. Study after study says the average american child spends hours (I don't recall the exact amount) staring at a screen. Ummm .. shouldn't we make sure they can tie their shoes before we give them the screen? Can't that be where the time (everyone says they don't have) comes from? Why do we keep distracting them with all this stuff?

Obviously this is generalizing but so many parents wait to tell their kids they are leaving the house until two minutes before they need to go and then get frustrated that the kids aren't being quick enough so the parents then put on the coats and shoes for the kids to save time. The same with the dinner situation. Why not have the kids set the table before anyone can eat? If we allow them to do this at a young age when helping is exciting to them won't it just become second nature for most kids so that by the time they are eight or twelve or thirty they will just automatically do it? I really don't understand the reasoning behind why we are so afraid to ask our kids to do things. What's the worst thing that can happen? They drop a plate? They get frustrated a little trying to learn to tie their shoes? So what!

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#25 of 47 Old 07-05-2012, 05:11 PM
 
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Let me give a big, fat DUH to that. The Matsigenka's lives depend on hard work and self-sufficiency. This is the glaring difference between the Matsigenka and the Southern California tribe in this example. 

 

It probably seems kinda corny compared to all the social-studies themed books mentioned here, but one great example of a child raised on hard work and self-sufficiency is Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Farmer Boy", about Laura's husband Almonzo when he was a little boy.  Here's this from Wikipedia, much more succinct than I can be, bolding is mine:

 

 

 

Almonzo's home life is a working production.  His father raises horses for sale. Almonzo is required to do real work, work that is interesting, that the whole family production depends upon. He's not even nine years old.  At the end of the book, one year later, having proven he can handle some responsibility his father gives him two ponies to raise for himself.  I'm betting most parents think their not-quite 10 y.o.'s are incapable of that kind of responsibility.

 

The thing is, what kid would not rather spend their time caring for and playing with their own ponies, compared to cleaning up their rooms and folding laundry??  Seriously, is it any wonder that parents have to cajole their kids to bring the groceries in, take the garbage out, keep their rooms neat, do their homework?  The family production simply is NOT going to fall apart if these things aren't done. 

 

I think mandated education is key to this, but that's a whole other thread.

 

Edited to add, regarding manners, respect, how we allow our kids to treat US, Jvdsista I completely agree with this,

 

 

JourneyMom, I see what you're trying to say but I think what happens is your argument is similar to the Matsigenka argument.  Why?  We are separated from Almonzo's life by almost two centuries.  Almonzo was not unique for his time and place in history.  It is not like his particular work ethic was any different from others who lived in Minnesota or Montana or wherever at time.  It is just how life was at that time.  He's not a hero of his time, it is just what was expected at that time.  Kids have different expectations now.  It may not to be raise ponies or run a farm, but the expectations are there nonetheless.  The expectations are more centered on brain stuff than physical stuff (except for the random olympian).

 

I think that people tend to forget that the "brain" is the workhorse of our times.  Of course there are layers of all types of work, but given our technological society, most of us don't live on farms and raise horses and ponies any more.  It is just not how our particular culture is structured right now.  

 

I also think that it is mistake to compare physical work and mental work.  People like to say that Joe the Plummer is the hard worker, and the accountant doesn't work for living.  But, you just can't compare the two.  Sure, Joe may do more physical work but that doesn't make the person who does calculus in his brain less than a worker.  There are newer ways now to look at really constitutes work.  We can't compare ourselves to Little House on the Prairie.  Different times and different circumstances.

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#26 of 47 Old 07-05-2012, 08:16 PM
 
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I didn't clarify.  I needed to make a couple more points here but got side tracked.

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JourneyMom, I see what you're trying to say but I think what happens is your argument is similar to the Matsigenka argument.  Why?  We are separated from Almonzo's life by almost two centuries.  Almonzo was not unique for his time and place in history.  It is not like his particular work ethic was any different from others who lived in Minnesota or Montana or wherever at time.  It is just how life was at that time.  He's not a hero of his time, it is just what was expected at that time. Yes, that was part of my point. 

 

Kids have different expectations now.  It may not to be raise ponies or run a farm, but the expectations are there nonetheless.  The expectations are more centered on brain stuff than physical stuff (except for the random olympian).  Exactly, I meant to expand upon that.  That's what got me thinking about Farmer Boy, the contrast between planting in the family garden and doing homework.  Raising ponies and preparing for the SAT. 

 

I think that people tend to forget that the "brain" is the workhorse of our times.  Of course there are layers of all types of work, but given our technological society, most of us don't live on farms and raise horses and ponies any more.  It is just not how our particular culture is structured right now.  Right, and I question the value of promoting 'brain' work over hands on work. I'll just throw caution to the wind here and say a lot of people -referring to the American children and their parents in the article-  suffer and/or spin their wheels needlessly in hands-off brain world.  It's stultifying and oppressive.


I also think that it is mistake to compare physical work and mental work.  Not comparing so much as contrasting to make a point.  People like to say that Joe the Plummer is the hard worker, and the accountant doesn't work for living. But that is not what I was saying.   But, you just can't compare the two.  Sure, Joe may do more physical work but that doesn't make the person who does calculus in his brain less than a worker.  There are newer ways now to look at really constitutes work.  We can't compare ourselves to Little House on the Prairie.  Different times and different circumstances.   The thing is, the world is still made up of both plumbers and accountants. The typical school model that is so very efficient does not serve everyone properly, in fact for plenty of people it's deleterious.  And I realize I'm just shouting into the wind here, because we've been on this track since the industrial era and public education was expanded, and the overwhelming evidence is societies all over the world only grow and blossom when people have access to education.  Anyway, this is fodder for another thread. 

 

My point as it relates to the article, why are american kids so spoiled?  One reason is because they don't have significant, worth while responsibilities.

 

I'm sure I had brilliant thoughts I still forgot to include, but I've got to dash. 

 


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#27 of 47 Old 07-06-2012, 06:33 AM
 
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I think plenty of people have made great explanations to why this article doesn't get it quite right. I mean, the girl in Peru likely doesn't have shoes to argue about tying or toys to argue about picking up. A culture of survival and a culture of stuff will have different expections for their kids. Not that our expections of our kids are all that good, they just can't be compared. As far as spoiled, I think of a lot of American adults are spoiled too. We take for granted things that much of the world-wide population has to work very hard for -- clean water, electricity, food, time for recreation and fun. We expect the government to bail us out (housing, banking, autos), we still want tax deductions and credits for having a child, childcare costs, being energy-efficient, buying a house....

 

I do value independence, and I've been struggling with a pattern I've noticed of the adult kids with the closest relationship to their parents are also still the most dependent on them. I'm not talking about living at home, drinking all the beer, without a job in their 30s. It's more of an expectation that their parents will go to a lot of trouble to make their life a little more convenient. I suppose you could argue that if both parties are fine with this, then it's fine. One thing that bothers me about this is that it almost seems the parents have low confidence in their kids. No, your adult son-in-law does not need you to travel for 14 hours to help him paint one room. No, the newlyweds can stock their own fridge when they return from their honeymoon. You don't have to make a 5 hour trip to take care of that. And the kids seem to need a lot of validation from them. I think there is a difference in working together as a village and expecting the village to bail you out. The thing that bothers me the most is that while these people are the most connected to their parents, they are very disconnected from their babies. Instead of sharing the joy of connectedness they still have, the babies are just burdens, and they better grow up quickly.

 

Relationship and help are different things. The only connection I can make of it is you're more likely to want to help people that you're connected to, and sometimes you just do a little too much. Adult kids without a connection to their parents will either figure it out on their own or fail. My kids are still little, so I have no idea if these are really keys to independence, but I'm thinking help by teaching not by doing, encourage their independence and interests when they're little (like my 5yo can sew), teach them life skills, problem-solving skills...

 

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 I also see kids being disrespectful to their parents,and it's just brushed under the rug,and the kids are free to say mean things to their parents in the name of self expression,and this is what I can't bring myself to agree with. I understand speaking to your kids respectfully,but when they disrespect you like that, they need to know that that is unacceptable.

 

OT: jvdsista, We're having a bit of a problem with disrespect with my 5yo.  I'm interested in exactly how you would handle it.  I'll say, "That hurts my feelings, you may say 'I feel mad about...', you may not say..."  I'll offer her a chance to make good choices or to rest (she prefers her room and will come out ready to get along -- basically time out except she chooses to go).   If it's still bad I might take a time-out myself.  I try to show her how to restore the relationship, "please give me a hug", "please spend some time with me doing..."   When we're not doing a great job restoring the relationship she hears about natural consequences, "I'm not really in the mood to go out of my way to do something for you right now".   But it persists.

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#28 of 47 Old 07-06-2012, 06:41 AM
 
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I didn't clarify.  I needed to make a couple more points here but got side tracked.

Thanks for clarifying, journeymom.  But I still think that the concept of "significant worthwile responsibilities" is open to a lot of interpretation.  Granted, a lot of kids probably don't have what we might consider worthwhile responsibilities, and you're right, perhaps that is the issue.  My DD is a city kid who lives in a small apartment with us without a lot of upkeep and chores.  Aside from certain life skills (learning to navigate the streets and public transit and other common sense stuff like that), my DH and I need to be proactive about finding something to teach her responsibilities and to be responsible, both for herself and those around her.  I know it might sound silly to some, but I want to get her involved with the Parks Department so that she can assist in clean-up and maintenance and planting of trees and all that.  I'm not so concerned about teaching her the value of hard work as I am the idea that she needs to take responsibility for her surroundings.  To think outside herself.  That can be achieved in any number of ways.  I think I mentioned in my first post on this thread that I think the greater problem now in our society is the loss of community.  We've lost our sense of responsibility to others and to our environment.  I see this even in the way that people just throw trash on the ground because obviously someone else will pick it up.  I think it is a society-wide problem and not just a problem with today's kids. 

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#29 of 47 Old 07-06-2012, 06:54 AM
 
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Granted, a lot of kids probably don't have what we might consider worthwhile responsibilities, and you're right, perhaps that is the issue.  My DD is a city kid who lives in a small apartment with us without a lot of upkeep and chores.  Aside from certain life skills (learning to navigate the streets and public transit and other common sense stuff like that), my DH and I need to be proactive about finding something to teach her responsibilities and to be responsible, both for herself and those around her.  I know it might sound silly to some, but I want to get her involved with the Parks Department so that she can assist in clean-up and maintenance and planting of trees and all that.  I'm not so concerned about teaching her the value of hard work as I am the idea that she needs to take responsibility for her surroundings.  To think outside herself.  That can be achieved in any number of ways.  I think I mentioned in my first post on this thread that I think the greater problem now in our society is the loss of community.  We've lost our sense of responsibility to others and to our environment.  I see this even in the way that people just throw trash on the ground because obviously someone else will pick it up.  I think it is a society-wide problem and not just a problem with today's kids. 

 

 

I've been reading your posts and totally agree (and do much the same)

 

IMO, it's not the children but how they are raised- the easy way out MOST of the time via the parenting and disguised as best for the child but it's really the easiest option for the parent-we (in the US) make things expectable to us and can't grasp the response of other views on us


 

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#30 of 47 Old 07-06-2012, 07:59 AM
 
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Thanks for clarifying, journeymom.  But I still think that the concept of "significant worthwile responsibilities" is open to a lot of interpretation.  Granted, a lot of kids probably don't have what we might consider worthwhile responsibilities, and you're right, perhaps that is the issue.

 

For sure, there are multiple definitions/characterizations of responsibility.  I think a lack of worthwhile responsibilities isn't the one and only issue, it's only one of the root issues. 

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