Are We Raising a Generation of Wimps?

“I used to walk five miles uphill both ways to school, these kids are pampered!”

“You kids never talked to me like that!”

“It’s gonna be a tough road ahead if today’s children have no responsibility!”

We’ve all heard them. Our parentals and other wise, experienced souls love to share their experiences and hardships and emphasize

my little goofballs
my little goofballs

how, with our modern technology and pampered lifestyles, our children have little responsibility and easy lives.

To be honest I always laughed off comments like these or ignored them, knowing that the memory plays tricks on us and that parents often seem to remember the best of child-rearing, haven forgotten the worst. In my head, a silent Thanks for the golden nugget of misery, old-timer! running on repeat.

Parental Guidance posterAs I get older, though I’m starting to wonder about the glimmers of truth in these quips. After watching Parental Guidance a few ago, the exaggerated lifestyles of the family in the movie  in some ways started to resembled ours: everyone’s a winner, no one keeps score on the baseball team, each child receives a personalized breakfast. 

Our family car has a DVD in it, each child has a digital game of some sort to keep them entertained on trips and freaks out if there’s no power plug nearby. Their life is a constant stream of school parties, rewards, and honestly, very little exposure to real life. When my son actually said, “I don’t want to go with you, you don’t have a DVD player in your car” on a Saturday recently it really sunk in.

OH NO, I thought: Am I THAT parent? Have we coddled these three so much that they’ll be frightened by life’s cruel realities?

I become more aware of how I presented competition to the kids. For example, my five-year old auditioned for Oddysey of the Mind,

My happy-go-lucky five year old, still smiling after not making the OM team.
My happy-go-lucky five year old, still smiling after not making the OM team.

thrilled at the thought of being able to use her creative skills in this after-school activity for the chosen few. Signing the permission slip for her to audition, I cautioned her that only seven children would be chosen, so there was a chance she wouldn’t make it.

She didn’t. Fifty-five students auditioned, so I had to break the news to her. “Oh well,” she said, brushing it right off. I simply said “you can always try out next year!” and marveled at her ability to accept disappointment at such a young age. Okay, maybe I haven’t coddled this one too much.

When my ten-year old tied for third yesterday in the all-county fifth grade spelling bee he took it like a champ. He knows he’s a winner because we encourage him to do his best, and he studied really hard. He was thrilled to make it that far. And, he learned that in real life, that although winning isn’t paramount, that scores do matter.

Maybe I need Bette Midler and Billy Crystal (who play the grandparents in this hilarious movie) to come visit me and shake me into reality on this whole child-rearing thing because I’m probably raising wimpy, entitled kids. In the meantime, I think I’ll take them out for ice cream today after school, just for being them.