This is how I feel toward the societal pressure to hover-parent.
I meant to post this last week, then Wednesday – and here it’s Friday. But I’m a bit slow since we’ve been hit hard by the flu, bronchitis and basic crud. Thank goodness for great medicine. Which is just what our country seems to need about now as this issue of entitlement grabs headlines almost daily. On Wednesday, Reuters reported on a new study that shows hyper parenting can make college-aged children depressed. Great. Apparently, now we’re not only lovingly, with the best of intentions grooming narcissists, but they’re depressed.
So, while taking a moment to rest my achy body on the couch last week, I got to hear and read a few of the headlines. This one by Steve Tobak on Fox News: The Truth Behind Our Entitlement Culture especially caught my attention. What Mr Tobak has to say is a pill that might be a bit hard to swallow, but one we need to consider. He begins with some stats,
Entitlements are two-thirds of the federal budget. Entitlement spending has grown 100-fold over the past 50 years. Half of all American households now rely on government handouts.
When we hear statistics like that, most of us shake our heads and mutter some sort of expletive. That’s because nobody thinks they’re the problem. Nobody ever wants to think they’re the problem.
But that’s not the truth.
I appreciate his consideration, especially toward the end of the article. Because we’re all in it together. We might think this type of entitlement is at the government level, but it has actually permeated every facet of society. And in a perfect-storm sort of way, it has been brewing for decades. Child-centric, self-esteem parenting started years ago with well-meaning folks. But when self-esteem efforts lack substance, rather than inflate, it powerfully deflates. A mom told me yesterday that at a middle-school dance competition – every entered team “won” a trophy. In fact the award ceremony lasted almost two hours. I wasn’t surprised by her kid’s reaction, “What good was all my hard work? The “win” doesn’t mean anything.” She’s right.
So, when considering solutions, it’s important to realize who is involved. The “I’m owed” or “I deserve” mentality has made its way even…
… in our schools and in our speech. There are no winners or losers anymore. Everyone gets a gold star. Everyone gets an award. There are no individuals, no standouts. We wouldn’t want to offend anyone. Everything has to be inclusive, especially in our politically correct speech. That takes all the power out of the concept of individual responsibility and exceptionalism.
The truth is that America’s growing entitlement culture is coming from everywhere. From our leaders in both the private and public sectors, from our schools, from our speech, from our popular culture, from what our notion of capitalism has become.
And eventually, one way or another, America will collapse under its weight.
Margaret Thatcher once said, “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” Well, we’re not supposed to be a socialist nation, but the problem that Thatcher describes does seem to fit our situation perfectly.
America is indeed changing. And it isn’t somebody else’s fault. It’s yours and mine. And only you and I can change it.
I know that’s all governmenty/business-world and all, but families are right there with every other social force in the equation. And that’s what’s so exciting. Families are right in the middle, a part of the equation… and hopefully a huge part of the solution. I saw it last week when I was in Louisville with an amazing group of educators and parents at Kentucky Country Day School. Then when I returned to Dallas at Richardson’s Arapaho Classical Magnet Elementary where moms & dads gathered in their library until it was overflowing – just to get inspired about our kids, their capability and our ability to train rather than do for them.
So where’s the sugar to help the medicine go down? In each and every home that is putting independence and responsibility and problem solving and critical thinking and just plain equipping into the parenting repertoire. Because there’s nothing sweeter than watching your kid realize that they can do so much more than they thought they could.
Check this out from Jennifer who is seeing up close and personal what happens when expectations are set high (okay, higher … listen, no one is asking for or expecting perfection. It’s just one foot in front of the other – after a few back, because isn’t that what it’s all about?)
… Our 14-year old daughter was SHOCKED that we would ask such a thing! [sidebar: to clean her room. eek!] She screamed and stomped and had a record setting temper tantrum. When she came up from her room for hockey practice 45-minutes later she mumbled under her breath “I cleaned my room”. I asked her to repeat herself…she hasn’t really cleaned her room since she moved into it 3 years ago. I checked her room and laundry was put away, clean sheets and blankets were on the bed and her floor was cleaned and vacuumed. She had another hockey practice before school this morning so on the way home from school I told her she could have a couple minute head start before I checked her room, she said she already made her bed (at 4:25 this morning!). Tonight as I sit here correcting papers she is cleaning off a desk she hasn’t seen the top of in 3 years. She just brought up a handful of things asking if she could cash a check she found from 2010. Obviously we have a LONG, LONG way to go but I am inspired by this small baby step that should have been taken years ago. I’m hoping it is not too late and the 1st 24-hours are a sign of things to come.
First of all, I can relate to the 2010 check (!); second, did she say vacuum?! (get out!!); and third, yes that was a teenager. It’s SO much easier to get the younger kids inspired. But a teen? … not so much. That’s some crazy great stuff. All is not lost.
All I can say, is thanks for sharing. It puts fuel in all of our tanks. Because it’s inspiring on so many levels. So, please keep sharing. And keep encouraging. It’s a road worth traveling.
And thanks, as always, for walking it with me.
Just in… Arapaho Classical Magnet Elementary has started a Facebook Group Page so they really can walk the road together. Wow!
Again you’ve stepped on my toes and I thank you. Right now my 12 year old is reading “Do Hard Things” and it seems to go along nicely with the idea that our kids can do more. We can set expectations for them! Imagine that!
Thanks for the FB name drop Kay! We are so so excited about our lil’ support group and I just want everyone to know that it’s not just for our school, please feel free to join if you want to make significant changes under your roof. The only requirement is that you have read Kay’s book or are reading it. https://www.facebook.com/groups/equiptoendenabling/
Kay, ACM thanks you for planting that seed in us.