Monday, August 18, 2008

A World Of 'Pushy Parents'

The Hartford Courant, Connecticut - July 10, 2008
Jul. 10--What's wrong with parents today?

We try too hard. We are so anxious for our children to be successful, to be good athletes or musicians, to get into good colleges and to have good careers and to be happy that we overreach and plant the seeds of incompetence, frustration, unhappiness, even mental and emotional disorders.

That's the sobering news from the latest crop of books on parenting.

Carl Honore, author of "Under Pressure: Rescuing Our Children From the Culture of Hyper-Parenting" (HarperOne, $24.95), says he was inspired to take on the topic when he saw himself becoming one of those parents. At a parent-teacher conference, his 7-year-old's art teacher told him that his son was "incredibly imaginative," that he was indeed "a gifted young artist."

Elated at the news, Honore charged home and spent the evening surfing the Internet looking for the right art course to nurture his son's talent. The next morning on their walk to school, Honore floated the idea of art lessons. His son wasn't interested.

"I don't want to go to a class and have a teacher tell me what to do -- I just want to draw," his son said firmly. "Why do grown-ups have to take over everything?"

Honore said the reply opened his eyes. "My God, he's right. I am trying to take over. I'm one of those pushy parents," he said.

That epiphany prompted Honore to embark on a 2-year investigation of child-raising approaches around the world. What he found everywhere he went among middle-class and affluent families was that despite the best intentions or perhaps because of them, kids are over-scheduled, over-stimulated and over-indulged.

This micromanagement of kids' lives has different names in different countries, Honore found. Often in the U.S., we call it "helicopter-parenting" because Mom and Dad are hovering. "Scandinavians joke about 'curling parents' who frantically sweep the ice in front of their child. 'Education mothers' devote every second to steering their children through the school system in Japan."

"I'm not convinced that this kind of micromanaging is equipping anybody" to be successful, said Honore. Continue Reading >>

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