Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Chicken Little: Stop Tweeting About the Falling Sky

Susan Gregory Thomas wrote a piece on MSNBC titled, Today's tykes: Secure kids or rudest in history? She adds, "Parents' focus on building self-esteem may neglect compassion for others."

Thomas starts with a couple of obnoxious stories:
A commenter on a recent New York Times’ blog recounted seeing a preschooler purposely trip a woman in a crowded restaurant, and chortle, “‘Mommy, did you see me trip that woman? I tripped her!’” — with no corrective measure from the mother. On, a mortified grandmother recently asked for advice on how to handle her grandson’s relentless public insulting of his own mother, who apparently seemed unable or unwilling to stand up to the mistreatment.

Then she quickly concludes:
Many experts say today’s kids are ruder than ever. And it may have something to do with popular parenting movements focusing on self-esteem and the generation that’s embracing them: Generation X, or those born between 1965 and 1977.

How is it that people observe a few bratty, uncontrollable kids and derive conclusions about an entire generation. Actually, when she says "rudest in history" she is stating that today's kids are the rudest kids that mankind has ever seen. And she also acts like there is some data on this somewhere in the world. Should rudeness be added to the 2020 U.S. Census so we can get a handle on it?

All too often, people jump to unfounded conclusions based on a few encounters. Even if it is dozens of encounters, it doesn't mean anything about an entire generation of kids. The real issue, when you read a piece like this, is how you and your spouse feel about the child (children) you are raising. How do you expect them to behave and what are you both prepared to do if they step outside the parameters that you've set?

Amidst her sweeping epic generalizations, Thomas has some valid points such as:
"It may be that today’s parents are so fixated on their children's emotional well-being that they’re teaching them that the well-being of others is comparatively unimportant, says Dr. Philippa Gordon, a long-time pediatrician in Park Slope, Brooklyn, an urban New York neighborhood famous for its dense Gen-X parent population."