Sunday, November 22, 2009

21st Century parenting: Then and now

Upon reading the article in TIME.COM about parenting turning into product development, my younger brother, 13 years my junior, came into mind. I couldn't help but agree that the article is so true.

I observe that parents nowadays are overly meticulous of all aspects that would make their child/children safe, injure-proof, dirt proof and healthy that sometimes it's becoming annoying. From making sure that they have the best education to preparing their crisp uniforms and mean breakfast, parents have so many things to be paranoid about and therefore so many things to consider. That's why most of the kids these days are dependent and more boxed up.

Take for example my brother JD. In my time in late 80's and early 90's, I was considered a street kid. Both my parents still worked at that time so I was majorly left alone to figure out what I wanted to do. During summer breaks you won't find me inside the house. I'd bike around the village, go from one house to another watching laser discs, invite people for sleepovers and literally play in the streets till dinner time. I would get dirty, play with traditional games that are not battery operated like pico and I have exposed myself in constantly making decisions on certain situations that hopefully made me more independent. There were no cellular phones and no nannies following me around.

I thought it was a normal thing for a kid, but now I don't see kids playing in the streets anymore. I don't even know my neighbors. Interactions are confined with relatives and friends at school. Kids are more exposed to television, computers and gadgets. They have phones where their parents could contact and monitor them. They don't easily become independent as these kids without raw training, can't make decisions.

Aside from over parenting, parents nowadays push their children to excel more because of new studies and intellectual breakthroughs about children's mental capacity. In this fast paced and cutthroat world, parents want to make sure that their kid is one of the best among the rest. Parents want their kids to get more opportunities and outpace others. It's about in-depth competition and pride. Even my brother's academic curriculum is way advanced than in my time. My brother and younger cousins are already studying algebra in elementary years. Pre-schoolers study different countries and their capitals cities. In my time, algebra was taught during high school and basic geography was taught in elementary. No wonder kids these days are very competitive and would drag large "travel" school bags as I coined them.

Although advanced and most definitely protected, in a way I pity my brother for not going through the childhood that I had. He never experienced playing in the streets. He lacks the ability to make decisions fast. He lacks cooking up strategies. He's very boxed up and very much by-the-book. He's submerged with online games and gadgets. He never gets physical and dirty except when it's their school intrams. As I've observed he is also very dependent with his stage mother. He expects my mother to fix certain things for him, make sure he gets this, gets that. I always get mad when my mother would do extra efforts to shade her son from things he should experience. I also get mad when she sticks with grades and academic standings so much. My brother has become her trophy. Looking at my brother now, he lacks initiative. Probably because he too is burned out with the pressure or maybe he's just too boxed up to know what he really wants or to know who he really is.

Good parenting is very important. Over parenting is dangerous. Good luck when your kids step out in the real world.

No comments: