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David Brooks’ thought-provoking Times column on Sept. 19 (“When Life Asks for Everything”) included research that unearthed the fact that parents today spend three times as much time involved with their children’s lives as did their counterparts in 1975.
To a degree and counter to other opposing family scenarios, one found that data point both wonderful and encouraging — in part.
One has little doubt of its statistical accuracy but these closer parental alliances have also had a somewhat counter productive impact. Namely they have produced children exhibiting what might be termed “entitlement personalities.”
It seems that many parents have become so invested that they are unable to balance the realities of life with the actualities of their offspring’s skill set. Too often it is the parents who become their children’s advocates and place undo pressures on various institutions (educational for one) in order that the youngsters involved never receive anything less than a highly positive affirmation of their worth.
In order to cope with these demands, schools have responded with inflated grading while other social institutions have also accommodated parents. League-wide award of trophies for all participants comes to mind. As a result, in some cases, what the country is producing is what might be termed “failure-proof children.”
Most of us in our ninth decade have long recognized that life’s realities are strewn with lessons best learned via the route of trial and error. Only then do the outcomes become more permanent and allow for more future consequential decision-making to take place as part of an individual’s maturation process.
Hooray for greater parental involvement — but let’s recognize that the trend in some cases has also produced a need a more realistic and balanced approach to the child-raising process. Namely, life is certainly not always a bowl of cherries. Sometimes it’s the pits.
Tim Schum is an Endwell resident.
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