Sunday, June 14, 2015

Parenting: What Do You Think?

A couple of interesting articles about parenting have come across my desk in recent weeks.

One hits on the topic of "overparenting" or "helicopter" parenting (in all its forms).  I'm sure teachers could give us an earful.
From KQED, What Overparenting Looks Like From a Stanford Dean’s Perspective

I began to worry that college “kids” (as college students had become known) were somehow not quite formed fully as humans. They seemed to be scanning the sidelines for Mom or Dad. Under-constructed. Existentially impotent.

Maybe those champions of self-actualization, the Boomers, did so much for their kids that their kids have been robbed of a chance to develop a belief in their own selves.

Then there's the "free-range" parents who have - twice - gotten in trouble for letting their 10-year old and 6-year old play at a park near their home and walk home alone.  The second time, the cops took the kids - for hours - before releasing to the parents.  From the Washington Post:

 Maryland officials have taken steps to clarify their views about children playing or walking alone outdoors in a new policy directive that says Child Protective Services should not be involved in such cases unless children have been harmed or face a substantial risk of harm.

The statement echoes that thought, saying the state agency is “mindful that every family applies its members’ personal upbringing, life experiences and expectations to parenting, and it is not the department’s role to pick and choose among child-rearing philosophies and practices.”

The new directive also addresses a state law on unattended children that says children younger than 8 in a building, enclosure or vehicle must be with a responsible person who is at least 13.

When the Meitiv case came to light, county CPS officials said they could look to that state law for guidance during investigations. But many who have followed the case have questioned whether the law applies because it does not mention children outdoors.

At the extreme end of parenting, there's this (from The TakeAway):

Imagine this: You are one of six brothers who've spent your entire lives locked away from society in an apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. You've rarely been out of your apartment. You don't have visitors, and you don't know anyone outside your family.

In fact, the only thing you know of the outside world is gleaned from the movies that you own, watch, and recreate meticulously.

Lastly, you knew it had to happen sometime.  The Bravo channel - famous for its reality show franchise, The Real Housewives of  X - has a new show starting tonight. It's called Mother Funders and it's about a PTO in a small Georgia town.   It's all women (sigh) who dress pretty well with one queen bee who, yes, turns out to be the president of the PTO.  


Anonymous said...

I have very little concern about bad people approaching my kids in the park a few blocks away. I have very big concern about all the cars with distracted and inconsiderate drivers on our streets. If I'm constantly in danger of getting hit in the sidewalks, I'm not sure how well my kids will do.

- Anti-Car Culture

Anonymous said...

A six year old can't be out of sight up the block or around the block on a bike? I don't think this really applies to a lot of suburban or rural America. Basically it goes against the American dream.


Ragweed said...

I have a friend whose PhD is in Sociology of Higher education, who works as director of institutional research at a major university. He told me one time that they looked into the relationship between students at universities and their parents. What they found was that students were consulting with their parents about course and major choices to a much greater degree than students from, say, 20 years ago, who wanted their parents involved as little as possible.

But on balance they concluded that this was not a bad thing. Students were looking to their parents, and trusting them, for career advice, but were not telling them what they did over the weekend or asking for approval of everything they did. And historically, parents and family were much more important in a young person’s career - up until a couple of generations ago it was very common to follow ones parents into their line of work, or to rely on parent and family connections. The whole idea that young people were supposed to go to college and not look back was, like the generation gap, largely an artifact of the post-war era and the baby boomers.

My wife is a therapist and she finds that millennials have a very different relationship with their parents. They seem to enjoy doing more things with their parents, and are more willing to maintain a relationship with their parents and listen to them through the teen years. And to a large part that is because parents today are generally more willing to listen to their kids and approach problems in a more collaborative and problem-solving approach. They are less likely to take the “my-way-or-the-highway” attitude that many boomer-era parents did. Teens are still hard, and there is still plenty of conflict, but not as severe as some past generations.

For the most part I think that concerns over “helicopter parenting” is overrated. There are definitely some cases where parents are detrimentally over-protective, but I don't think its really the majority. The worst examples of over-scheduled hyper-parenting seem to primarily be on the upper-end of the income spectrum and represents upper-income status consciousness (which may be why the author of the linked article is seeing it among Paulo-Alto parents and Stanford students).

In a title-1 school, we don’t have a big problem with over-involved parents. Over-stretched, maybe, but not so much over-involved.