When did kids stop being kids? In the past two days I have seen news stories involving kids, and their over achieving parents. In Japan 25 kids had to give the lead part in a school play. There was only one lead part, but these 25 kids had to share the part. Just because all of the parents wanted their child to be the star. Then another story was about kids having business cards. A 2 year old with a stack of business cards in his bag? How ridiculous is that!!! The mothers explanation for it was “it makes him feel important, and helps his build his network of friends.” And to make it even worse, the price for these cards is $50 for 50 cards. I didn’t even spend that much on my own business cards (which are now sitting on a shelf gathering dust).
It seems like kids are being scheduled and forced to do things they don’t want to, have no interest in, or just aren’t ready for. Every night of the week it’s off to practice here, a recital there, grab dinner on the run, squeeze in homework somewhere, and don’t stop to rest.
I also had a more personal experience with parent pressure – it was at a pool. A bunch of kids were taking turns jumping off the diving board into the deep end of the pool. One of the kids didn’t want to do it, maybe they weren’t comfortable with their swimming skills, I don’t know. But they didn’t want to, and that was what mattered. Well the parents decided that it was more important for the child to be jumping off the diving board, so they kept pressuring until finally the deed was done. Afterward the tears started. When asked why they were crying, the answer was they felt pressured by the parents to do it even though they didn’t want to.
Maybe it’s a difference in parenting styles, but to me that was not something that the child needed to be pressured to do. I have an 8 year old and she has decided this year to try that and has found she likes doing that, but she made the decision to try, not me. She’s also become a stronger swimmer because of it.
And I will be the first to admit, I have made my share of mistakes parenting too. I’m not perfect and I don’t know any parents out there that are.
I think back on my childhood and my most fond memories of being a kid were playing with my friends, the spontaneous games played outside, swimming at the community pool, or just hanging out. We didn’t have to be somewhere all the time or constantly entertained and occupied. We used our imaginations to create forts out of refrigerator boxes, picked honeysuckles and tried to harvest the honey to sell to the neighbors, or rode our bikes up and down the street for hours on end.
Hopefully I will be able to convey some of that to my daughter and allow her to be a kid just a little longer. Because they certainly grow up fast enough without us pushing an adult agenda on them.