If You’re a Parent of a Young Child, or Plan to be Someday, Read This

“The current trend of over-parenting began in the early 1980’s when baby boomers – who ended up having fewer children, later in life – started having kids, and it has continued down the line. At first, Baby on Board signs in car windows proudly announced “precious cargo” inside. Today, however, it is not enough to wait until the baby is born. While pregnant, parents start their single-minded search for ways to create an über child – and there is no shortage of products to help them, including ‘prenatal education systems’ that claim to give Junior an intellectual, social, creative and emotional advantage. Once the baby is born, the race to keep him or her ahead of the pack intensifies – with baby videos, baby ballet, gymnastics before they can walk, and parents’ near-fanatic devotion to finding the right pre-school.”

I really like documentaries – though I don’t watch as many as them as I’d like – and when I find one that impacts me, I feel compelled to share it with others. This is one such documentary – it’s called Hyper Parents & Coddled Kids. Years before we had Logan, I’d feel a sense of bafflement watching the extremes that some parents would go to in order to get the very best for their kids. Sure, you love your kids, but does it really make sense to financially strain yourself to the point of breaking in order to get your kid a marginally better education or a vocal coach for what amounts to a hobby? Or how about spending $4000 on a birthday party for a one year old, as shown in the photo above? And thinking that turning one is, in the words of the mother, a “milestone achievement”? Talk about a warped perception of reality – making it to one year old isn’t an achievement in our modern world, it’s an inevitability. Aging is a biological certainty, not an accomplishment worthy of lavish praise. Celebration, yes. Praise for something that happened without effort or sacrifice? No. There’s a big difference between the two.

Now that I’m a parent, I understand more keenly the desire to provide the best options for your child, but I still think there are limits to how far parents should go…and when it comes to letting your kids go through the bumps and bruises of life to learn independence, I’m in complete agreement. As a parent, I want to make a big deal when Logan accomplishes something – but making it to age one isn’t one of those things. I love my son unconditionally, and will tell him so every day, but I won’t lie to him and puff up his ego to the point where he feels like he’s the Chosen One every day of his life.

Anyway, if you’re a parent of a young child, or one day plan on being a parent, I’d highly encourage you to set aside 45 minutes to watch this documentary. It’s truly fascinating because it shows the impact that this style of parenting has on the kids as they grow into stressed out, needy, dysfunctional young adults who can’t cope with life on their own after being conditioned for decades that they’re special, wonderful, and great at everything they try. If you like the documentary, or this post, share it with others.

  • drtolson

    I know I’ll sound like an ‘old grump’, but I get absolutely hairly at the way we (as a society) ‘coddle’ our kids as well. I mean ‘kindergarten graduation ceremonies’??? sheesh! (and then there was the same thing when they ‘graduated’ from elementary school and middle school (grade 8). Yes, I think it’s important to celebrate our child’s accomplishments, but let’s make them REAL accomplishments.

    Sorry for the rant, but I just came out of a meeting with high school parents who want to let EVERY kid go through grad ceremony, whether or not the kid can actually GRADUATE! (“…don’t want anyone to feel ‘excluded’…”) I’m really concerned that we are not preparing our kids for the real world, where not everyone gets a ribbon at the end of the race….

  • Don,
    Wow…that’s pretty incredible that you no longer need to actually graduate from high school in order to be a part of a graduation ceremony – though I can’t say I’m surprised. This is the world we live in… 🙁 Though I will never want to see Logan fail at anything, when he does, it’s an opportunity to discuss failure, what it means, and what kind of impact it has. It’s not an opportunity to re-name failure “success” and pretend failure doesn’t exist.

    I think you’d really like the documentary!

  • I came to the conclusion early on that most of the things bought for and done for a baby or toddler are actually for the parents. With our kids, my wife and I lived mostly through gifts or thrift shop clothes and toys. I gasped in shock the first time I saw a $40 “onesie”.

    I had an interesting talk with another dad one day. I explained how my wife stayed home with the kids. He said his wife has to work because he “wants the best for my children”. I want the best for mine as well, but what exactly does “the best” mean?

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