I just read this article by Lisa Belkin at the Huffington Post
and I find myself a little frustrated, I guess. She says that the rampant helicopter parenting and spoiling of children is just emblematic of a society that prizes getting to the top of the mountain first instead of learning how to be a functional adult. I guess in some ways that's true - everyone wants their kids to have more opportunities than they did, to surpass their legacy, whatever - but at what cost? I just think of the spoiled prep school brats I went to Trinity with who didn't know how to write a paper or do their own laundry or cook their own dinner because Mummy and Daddy took care of all of it for them. There are some things you just... have to know how to do. I don't get how you can send a legal adult to school without making sure he or she can take care of himself/herself.
Also, I have a real problem with child-centric parenting in general. I say this all the time, but instead of reading all those parenting books, people ought to pick up a copy of Kate Chopin's The Awakening
. (If you haven't read it, you should - it's quite short and I think it's an absolutely necessary read.) You have to be a person before a parent. I don't think that's selfish. You can't be a good parent if you're falling apart all over the place and taking care of your kids before you look after your own health and sanity. This is something I worry about a lot, having anxiety and depression. I think that's why the book spoke to me in the first place. I don't want to pull an Edna someday! And I don't think spoiling the shit out of children helps them any more than it helps the parents. The last thing any mother needs is to be going into their retirement with their hopeless, unemployed 38-year-old son still living with her! (This is currently the situation at my aunt's house. It's really, really pathetic. Jesus Christ, Jeremy, go see a doctor, take some antidepressants, put down your Blackberry, and get a fucking job! I know it sounds heartless, but he's just a mean, miserable shit and he doesn't do anything about it.) They don't learn anything when you spoon-feed it to them, you know? Give a man a fish and you'll feed him for a day, teach him to fish and he'll leave you the fuck alone. SO ON AND SO FORTH.
I would guess that 98% of the problem is the whole instant gratification/gotta have it now/YOLO/FOMO/social media/electronics phenomenon. I watched this TED talk
when she was visiting and it really struck a chord with me. I feel slightly less pathetic because I fully acknowledge that the internet was my refuge during a lot of turbulent periods of my life (my dad dying, my depressive period freshman year of college, being unemployed last summer), and because I've seen a therapist and all that, but there are a lot of people who don't and it's just sad. What bums me out the most about kids today is that they rely on toys and electronics and objects
to bring them happiness and entertainment, but it's so cheap compared to falling into another world through books or playing pretend or writing or something actually created
and not consumed
. You take a cell phone away from a kid at one of my schools and it's like you cut their arm off or something. It's made them into boring people who can't function. My cousin got an iPod Touch for her 10th birthday; I didn't even have a cell phone with mobile internet until I turned 23 (much less a cell phone at all until I was 17). I played video games a lot as a kid, but I always liked the ones that had good stories and no guns. I would spend hours playing The Sims after my dad passed because I liked taking pictures of my Sims and making up stories about them. Some of them were a little twisted, but it was creative, at the very least. I spend hours playing Lord of the Rings Online, but only because I love Tolkien's legendarium so much that it thrills me to be a part of it in whatever way I can. (That sounds... super fucking lame, but whatever.) I don't know. Maybe I'm rationalizing. But I try to find substantive cultural or educational value in the media I participate in, without losing the ability to be a functional human being. I live with my mom, but I pay my own bills and cook dinner sometimes and do my own laundry and clean my room when it becomes unbearable. It's like having a roommate who pays for your health insurance, lmfao.
IN SHORT: No one is a special snowflake. Do your own damn laundry. And read this article, too.