A friend recently shared an article with me from the Huffington Post called “Are Today’s Parents Getting a Raw Deal?” Written by Rhonda Stephens, the article explored the idea that the current generation of children may not be getting the self-reliance and responsibility needed in life because their parents are too involved in their lives. Stephens argues that parents nowadays are spending too much money on their children, releasing them from important responsibilities like steady jobs, and solving too many of their problems, depriving them of forming their own problem-solving skills. As compared to the parenting style under which she was raised in the 1970s, Stephens believes that parents nowadays are far too absorbed in their kids lives and thereby setting them up for failure while simultaneously being burdened with a new, more self-sacrificing style of parenting.
Rhonda Stephens makes a valid point. Parents are, as a trend, more involved. I have seen parents of my classmates step in for their children to negotiate work and grades, and I have seen people in my town with cars that were bought by their parents. Personally, I have had my mom make some phone calls for me to my old driving school that, realistically, would have been valuable opportunities for me to gain adult skills.
Yet, despite the negative side effects of overly involved parenting, I think that parents becoming more invested in their children’s lives is an important step in the right direction from the disengaged parenting that Stephens talks of from the 1970s. Stephens mentioned that she was pretty sure that her father didn’t know when her birthday was until 10 years before the article was written, and she remarked that no parent paid attention to her mental health as a kid. I think that it is a parent’s duty as protector and nurturer of their child to pay attention to such things, and that emotional health is of equal or greater weight to being financially self-reliant.
It seems to me that, at least in Stephens’ experiences, parents in the 1970s may have been too checked out of their children’s lives, while today many parents are too involved. Perhaps parenting would reach its most effective state when parents become emotionally involved enough but also give their children freedom to solve their own problems and buy their own nonessentials.
Of course, it is too broad to say that all parents today are overly involved. For many kids, making their own money is necessary for their college education or clothing and school supplies. Likewise, not all parents in the 1970s were so uninvolved.
I hope that parenting for all families may, in the future, reach a happy equilibrium of kids getting enough connection and independence. Even though parenting can be imperfect today, I have faith in my generation and the skills their parents have taught them. I think that kids learn responsibility quickly through the greater demands of school these days and the extra-curricular obligations in which so many involve themselves. I think that this dedication, mixed with the greater importance given to mental health and emotional connections, will be sufficient for today’s young people to someday problem-solve, cope, and survive in the “real world.”
Featured photo from https://www.teenlife.com/blogs/helicopter-parenting-why-its-not-good-your-teen