Today’s population of new-age parents has given birth to a doomed generation. Kids are now tumbling out of the womb with connected devices in tow, and are then hovered over and doused with hand sanitizer by their obsessive “helicopter mommies”. They’re coddled and reassured that they’re special (they’re not) and entitled (also not), and most obnoxiously of all, are taught to be victims, and to be offended by everything. They’re given increasingly stupid names, and are not taught to think or stand up for themselves. They’re taught that winning is not important (it is), and as a result, everyone is given a participation trophy just for showing up and breathing. They have access to a multitude of screens that present them with a virtual reality that precludes them from ever having to go outside. Kids that are inclined to defend themselves are afraid to fight back in battles that they didn’t even initiate, for fear of getting suspended or expelled by schools that harbor overzealous “zero tolerance” policies. When I was in grade school, a bully was the kid who physically beat you up on the playground. He (or she) was the punk who made you fear for your well-being in a very tangible way. Due to the prevalence of the Internet, the word “bully” has be redefined by a new generation, one that means it to be the person who calls you names from the safety and anonymity of their keyboard. A bully no longer has to break your nose, just your impossibly fragile self-esteem.
Parents in general have become a cartoonish version of authority figures, zombifying their children with powerful sedatives, prescribed by doctors, after diagnosing them with ADD. Show me a young child who can sit still and shut up in school, and I’ll stand corrected. If I ever got a bad grade in school, my parents would ask me why it happened, and sternly warn me to do better next time. Nowadays, parents all think their kids are perfect and would never do anything wrong, so they jump down the throats of teachers whenever their kid comes home with a bad report card or a note to sign about their ill behavior in class. Parents now revolve every facet of their lives around their kids, and too many of them (typically mothers) can’t make it through four minutes of a conversation without blabbing about how wonderful their ankle biters are.
I recently read an article about the increasingly popularity of child-free weddings, and in the comments section, one mother stated that couples who don’t want to take the chance of having the most important day of their lives ruined by screaming, tantrum-throwing children are “rude” and “selfish”. She bemoaned the cost of hiring a babysitter, as if a couple who is likely spending tens of thousands of dollars on their wedding will have any sympathy for that. Another commentator accused her of being a “helicopter mom”, a label which she eagerly accepted. She said that her children are her life, and she NEVER wants to be away from them, not even for a few hours. That is just flatly insane. Parents need to remember that there is more to life than just their children. They theoretically still have each other, as well as jobs, friends, and other responsibilities, and from time to time, could use a break. Any parent who couldn’t occasionally use an hour, a day, or even a week away from their children has their priorities hopelessly out of wack.
This is all easy for an as-of-yet unmarried, childless 30-something to say, but looking back on how I grew up, and seeing what’s going on with the youngsters of the new millennium, I fear for their future. My parents taught me to be respectful of others. They taught me to never start a fight, but to stand up for myself if one should arise. They practically had to drag me inside when the streetlights came on at night. They taught me the difference between right and wrong without sanitizing the whole world for me. They taught me that I had to work for what I wanted, that I wasn’t entitled to anything, above anyone else by default.
I plan on raising my future children the same way. I plan on protecting them, but letting them experience the world- every last good, bad and ugly bit of it. I will teach them to speak well, take care of their bodies, and that there is so much greatness beyond the computer monitor or smartphone. I will undoubtedly get frustrated with them at times, and will surely need a break, if only for an hour. While children are very time-consuming, especially while they’re young, I will do my best to practice balance. I will have a wife, a job, friends, and the need for time alone. I will raise them to work hard, and teach them right from wrong without sheltering them from everything they may encounter in life, good or bad. They will need to know that one day they will have to function without me, and I will not have them flailing about when they are shoved into the real world, thinking that they will be handed anything. I will have them as prepared as possible for everything life can throw at them, and everything else, they’ll learn from the movies.