David McCullough, Jr. nailed society with his Generation-Special speech. Now The New Yorker has written a lengthy article on the subject of society and it’s trend toward “spoiling”, dare we say emasculating a more than capable group of kids – our kids.
In Spoiled Rotten, Why do kids rule the roost?, (The New Yorker, 7/2/12) Elizabeth Kolbert shares plenty to motivate us, starting with a story about Matsigenka girl who reminds us that kids are not only more than able, but they are incredibly willing… because they actually like to help, to belong, to be included (just ask my 13 or 15 or 11-year-old who all quietly and deeply long for these things even though teens look in other places to find them):
A member of another family, Yanira, asked if she could come along. Izquierdo and the others spent five days on the river. Although Yanira had no clear role in the group, she quickly found ways to make herself useful. Twice a day, she swept the sand off the sleeping mats, and she helped stack the kapashileaves for transport back to the village. In the evening, she fished for crustaceans, which she cleaned, boiled, and served to the others. Calm and self-possessed, Yanira “asked for nothing,” Izquierdo later recalled. The girl’s behavior made a strong impression on the anthropologist because at the time of the trip Yanira was just six years old.
In another representative encounter, an eight-year-old girl sat down at the dining table. Finding that no silverware had been laid out for her, she demanded, “How am I supposed to eat?” Although the girl clearly knew where the silverware was kept, her father got up to get it for her.
In a third episode captured on tape, a boy named Ben was supposed to leave the house with his parents. But he couldn’t get his feet into his sneakers, because the laces were tied. He handed one of the shoes to his father: “Untie it!” His father suggested that he ask nicely.
“Can you untie it?” Ben replied. After more back-and-forth, his father untied Ben’s sneakers. Ben put them on, then asked his father to retie them. “You tie your shoes and let’s go,’’ his father finally exploded. Ben was unfazed. “I’m just asking,’’ he said.
Okay… so the stuff is sobering. But we at themoatblog know that it doesn’t take much to turn the ship. It might seem daunting, or that we don’t have time, or that we just can’t live through another whine session… but why not ask 9-year-old “J” how it felt when he served his family talapia tacos that he had planned and prepared ON HIS OWN! … or “RA” what it was like to ride her very own bike to the store to get ingredients she needed to bake the cupcakes that thrilled not only her neighbors, but also her friends …
Lots of confidence/independence-infusing opportunities are right at our fingertips. Here’s to grabbing them and holding on (sometimes holding our breath, forcing ourselves to let our kids do for themselves) as we actually enjoy – because it rocks (!) – the fun ride toward incredibly capable kids.
Thanks for walking the road with me.
… also, thanks to CNN for hosting our topic on HLN Evening Express yesterday. We can change this entitlement trend one mean mom (and dad) home at a time :)