http://www.one.org Dixie Peach: Discuss Among Yourselves

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Discuss Among Yourselves

I've never raised a child so maybe it disqualifies me for making comment on how children are raised but then again I've never written a novel but I know a stinker when I read one.

In the past week or so I've read a couple things online that made me think about how children are different than the time when I was growing up. I wish I could remember where I'd read these articles because I'd link to them but even if I made up these theories out of whole cloth myself I think there is least enough behind these ideas to merit consideration.

The first was a speech given by someone and in the speech the speaker referred to the C.S. Lewis book Voyage of the Dawn Treader where one of the characters, Eustice, is confronted by a dragon. In the book, Lewis writes that Eustice has no idea about dragons and what to do about one because he never read the sort of books that would feature a dragon. The actual crux of the speech, as I understood it anyway, was that parents limit their children's exposure to bad thing. Bad circumstances, bad things that happen in the world, and so on so that children don't gain any experience with the bad that can and will come into their lives. They're unprepared to deal with evil or bad things because they don't know how to recognize it when they see it. Too much shielding of children leaves them more vulnerable. Even reading stories with bad characters at least teaches children that bad does exist and not everyone will have your best interests at heart.

I think there must be a fine line here between having your child recognize bad things and making them overly worrisome over bad things. I can see the point of reading Grimm's fairy tales to kids and letting them see the clear distinction between good and evil but letting kids read about or see violence can have the opposite effect. I would think too much exposure would perhaps make kids numb to it.

The other article was discussing how a survey of current college students found the majority to be self centered and vain - that these students found themselves to be most important. The article discussed how the message being given to children as they grow up has changed over the years. I know when I was a child the message of "You're unique" was emphasized in an effort to make kids feel that it was okay if they were tall or fat or wore glasses or braces or good at sports or made good grades. That everyone is an individual with a unique personality. Evidently over the years the message has changed to "You're special" and kids have grown up thinking that since they're special they're somehow better or more important than others and therefore young adults now think of themselves as being the focal point and we've raised a generation of narcissists.

I like the idea of teaching children that they are special but perhaps the line is being crossed and "special" is being translated into "better than". Is there a difference between "special" and "better than"?

This is all probably why I don't have kids. I think I'd be so afraid of how I was doing as a mother I'd have my child boxed up like a veal calf.

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9Comments:

Anonymous Belinda said...

*warning, long reply*

I can't stand those people that say "You don't have kids so you can't possibly understand".

As you know I am not a mother yet but I think that 50% of parenting is really common sense. The other 50% is your ability to cope with the unexpected when common sense fails.

In a world with an exploding population more and more people are trying to find their "uniqueness" amongst the masses.

I think the difference is my parents told me I was special to them, not also to the rest of the world. I don't mean they didn't encourage me or whatever, but they were firm believers in earning things in life not just being handed them.

You want to be special? Carve your way by making your mark with hard work and imagination.

I walk around today and listen to how kids talk - I'm not talking teens I'm talking the under 10s and am disgusted on a daily basis at how shallow they have become as a group. This "culture" of cellphones and gadgets is reaaally taking a toll on what makes kids REALLY special- their ability to be kids.

Remember in the 90s there was some kind of surge in Parenting books? Doctors telling new parents that the way to discipline the kid is to put it in the corner for a "time out". Or the movement of parents who refused to read their kids fantasy stories because they didn't want to teach their kids about things that weren't real - dragons and fairies.

seriously what.the.fuck????

There were decades upon decades of parents who spanked their kids and read them stories about elves and those generations of kids never had to take medication for ADD or go to therapy after discovering Santa Clause wasn't real.

This whole thing really makes me insane to be honest.....grrr.

anyway. loved this post and I do agree with you. there just has to be balance. I mean, I can't imagine the disappointment a teen must feel after being spoon fed for years that whole "you're so special" and then going out into the real world and realising they're not that damned special. It seems almost counterproductive to do that as a parent no?

you want a confident child but yet you tell them things and raise them in a way that sets them up for insecurity and disappointment.

alright, done lol :|

8:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love your blog, Dixie, I've been 'visiting' for some time and I hope you won't mind if I put my two cents worth in on this post. I have four adult children and I have to say that I am so glad I do not have young children to raise in times like these. Parenting is not that difficult if you are ready and willing to be a PARENT! Time and Attention to children and families are what's lacking today. TV, Ipods, Computer, and overscheduling of childrens and parents activities leave no time for family or one-on-one time. It's sad that families could be turned around by just 'unplugging' for a few hours every evening ........Sorry to have gone on so....but that's just my opinion.

5:23 PM  
Blogger hexe said...

Dixie - whether you have children or not, anyone can see that children today have some major issues as a result of parents. As someone who used to prosecute crimes against children, I am always happy to see parents who love and care for their children. But this idea of every child being "special" has created a sorry situation. I made the switch from law to teaching thinking that parents would be happy to have an educated professional in the classroom. I naively believed that they would appreciate the fact that I set a schedule, have expectations, challenging their childrne to think, and hold childrern accountable when they choose not to complete the work (realize these are students who are in their last year of high school). I WAS VERY WRONG. This year I have been screamed and cussed at BY PARENTS. I had one parent walk into the middle of a class I was teaching and yell at me over her daughters grade in front of other students. There is a hugh conflict between teachers and administrators who believe children (and parents) need enforced limits and those who believe that all children are "special" and must be handled arbitrarily (and often the sanctions depend on whether or not their parents contributed money to the endowment). I try not to write about this on my blog because it depresses me, but as a parent, I FEAR what my children learn in attending school. I know some say public school is a better choice, but unfortunately living in the land of the Mouse, the public schools have substantial issues with drugs and gang violence. Right now I am hanging on to the hope that it has to better somewhere else, but I fear I am wrong.

5:44 PM  
Blogger hexe said...

Sorry for the spelling errors above - obviously this is a topic that pushes my buttons :)

5:47 PM  
Blogger Katya said...

I agree with Belinda -- I hate people who say, "You don't have children so you don't understand." And I have children. I actually think you have hit the crux of the problem -- there's no balance in what we teach kids and what we allow them to do. My mother didn't censor what I read or watched but then again, there weren't some of the awful shows that are on now. My daughter used to watch Law and Order (all of them), until I discovered it was giving her bad dreams. Now I no longer allow her to watch that but I do allow her to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which doesn't disturb her. So although I'd like to be like my mother, I've found that in dealing with my particular child, I can't be. And the whole "you are special" thing -- to my parents I knew I was special and my kids know that. But it would never occur to them that the rest of the world should think they were equally special unless they did something like find the cure for cancer.

9:20 PM  
Blogger sari said...

I agree with you, kids today are spoiled and have a huge "entitlement" problem.

You know my kids, you know how they are. I try to tell them the facts, when they are ready for them. I try to make sure they're not so sheltered that they're surprised by life.

I try to do a good job, but...I don't always, and that's ok, too. Everyone makes mistakes, and everyone needs to take responsibility for those mistakes.

I think that's another thing a lot of people aren't learning as well. There's a lot of pressure to be perfect, and no one is.

ramble ramble

11:13 PM  
Blogger Dixie said...

Thank you all for your comments because I like hearing from parents and non-parents alike about these ideas. I was so afraid that I'd written this entry so poorly that I hadn't made the ideas I was presenting clear but I guess I did after all. After I'd written it all I could think was "This sounds better in my head than here all typed out. It would have probably come out better as a conversation over lunch.". I reckon I did well enough after all.

Sari - If there were dragons and your boys came across one, I know for a fact that they'd know exactly what to do. :)

11:33 PM  
Blogger purplepassion said...

This is the type of topic that can push a lot of buttons very easily. As far as you not being able to say anything on the subject, that's BALONEY! You are as knowledgeable as I was before I had kids and birthing a child doesn't make you a knowledgable parent! After 17 years I can only tell you what worked and didn't work for me and what worked for one son didn't always work for the other. There is no science to parenting. Yes, kids today seem to suffer more from entitlitis that in my day but when I was 15/16/17 etc I thought I had it all figured out too. Didn't you? No extreme is good in anything and that goes for parenting too. I agree with you Dixie. Moderation in all things ;) as I gingerly step off my soapbox...sorry for the rant. ;)

7:48 PM  
Blogger sari said...

You're awfully nice, thanks.

:-)

3:09 PM  

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