I was in Walmart checking out the latest window gel clings (I use them for motivation with Beth…long story, autism, blah blah blah) and there was a grandparent two aisles down going on and on in a very loud voice, “NO! NO! NO! You can’t have that! You already got so much for Christmas! I swear it wasn’t like that years ago! Kids these days you get everything! I told your parents…” And it went on, and on, and on, and on. And on. I was on the verge of shouting: “Just say no and move on already! Even if the kids have tantrums we get it. Hold your ground!” And then I wanted to shout, “By the way, the relentless direct marketing to kids and amount of products available these days at eye level in the store is a lot different from when you were young!” But I wisely thought better of it. That frustrated grandparent is not alone in her rant. There is no end to the articles and discussion on social media (Now that we have the internet! Damn internet! Back in our day…).
Case in point, this gem of an article, based on an interview of Leonard Sax who is peddling his book “The Collapse of Parenting”:
Everything in the article and in the book summary on Amazon is nothing new. It is like the author just took everything that has made the social media rounds and crammed it into a book. Also, everyone seems to be forgetting that there is no way to go back and compare kids of old to kids of new, which means the opinions presented in any “kids these days” piece are highly subjective and unscientific. In my view, these types of articles and books are low on balance and high on trashing parents to sell a book and increase readership. So, I would like to take the above article point by point and give it some balance. Because you know what, I am sick of the parent bashing for profit game. Starting from the top of the article and working my way down:
- The kid that told his mom to shut up and no correction was made, the author making the case it is the norm. To be honest, I cannot think of a single parent I know who would put up with that. Hey Leonard, who comes to visit you in your office? Oh. Right. Parents who have trouble being authoritative with their kids. That explains it.
- The example of the kid making the education decision even though the parent knew it was wrong. Well the point started out it is common to get to pick schools, but I don’t really think the example is common at all. Are your clients rich? Are they choosing from a variety of private schools. What the hell is behind this example? Next…
- Cellphone in the bedroom, talking at 2 am. Guess what. This has been happening for a long time. It was the same when I was younger…I hid under the covers and I was on the phone at 2 am (sorry for this revelation Mom). The only difference is the phone was connected to the wall by a cord. But I guess his main point was we should limit devices. Duh. The American Academy of Pediatrics beat you to that earth shattering advice Leonard. And I think we all have heard it already.
- Family Dinner. Okay, good idea. But somehow the article works in several topics related to schools, extracurricular, college prep too young, etc. into a long confusing point. Here is a newsflash for you Leonard..extracurricular activities are the norm now. Gone are the days where kids just go out and play all evening (yes I agree that is sad). You can try that with your kid but they will likely be lonely…all the other kids are at extracurricular activities! I agree this is a problem, but you can see why parents feel they must do things in the evenings that are more organized these days. They have no choice. And it is not always about beefing up a resume, it is about social opportunities.
- No ear buds in the car. This section of the article talks about no ear buds, it is a time for family, and then Leonard says, “My 9-year-old daughter and I know the lyrics to almost every song from ‘Mary Poppins’. ” Um, so you don’t have a code of silence in the car. And you listen to music together while driving. You know what, most parents do that. At least until the kid and the parents hate each other’s music. Then they listen to different things and the earbuds get whipped out, which has been happening since the invention of the Walkman in 1979. So I am not even sure what point you are trying to make Leonard. We’ll be in our car listening to Adele and the new Wiggles, while you are in your car listening to Mary Poppins. What is the freaking difference?
- Teach humility. Okay I am 46 and I started going down the list of people without humility from my high school class and it was long. Very long. I get your point Leonard, but can you make the point without making parents feel like shit? Maybe if you wrote a book on the importance of handling disappointment and provided many examples of strategies to deal with disappointment, then maybe I would give you some expert cred and buy your book.
So, that is that. My critique of yet another “kids suck these days and their parents suck even more” article. Here is my advice. Stop reading the parent bashing articles. Rely on a variety of friends, family, and/or teachers for guidance, advice, and new ideas. Because, you know, that is what we used to do in the old days. Geez. Experts these days.