Sunday, March 09, 2008

Using Children to Forward Our Own Agendas.

I didn't write this. A friend, who in her own words identifies herself as a baby-boomer "soccer mom" who hates soccer, asked me to post this. She said, in response to my suggestion that she set up her own blog, "I don't see why anyone would want to read what I have to write every day. She obviously does not have the narcissism required to blog.

Children. What are they good for?

They cost a hell of a lot of money, can be a huge obstacle to reaching our goals, complicate our lives and can be totally irrational. In other words, children are a burden on society, yet without them, the future would be non-existent.

Children were not always the burden they are now. Not long ago, the more children, the more farm hands or able bodies there were to pitch in, bettering the family’s chance of maintaining a decent standard of living. Of course, like everything else, it's not as simple as I'm making it sound. Keeping that in mind, children definitely contributed and had to sacrifice for the sake of the family and society, unfortunately, in some cases, to the extent of sacrificing their childhood. The sad part is as much as we have tried to change this aspect of childrearing, the more it’s stayed the same or perhaps, gotten worse.

Back in the day that children “were seen and not heard”, in order to get children to cooperate, what would have been considered child abuse today, was not only tolerated, it was encouraged and children were vulnerable to whatever cruel and unusual treatment their parents chose to inflict upon them. However, instead of doing a 180° to correct the wrongs of raising children in past generations, we did a 360° and discarded the real gold with the fool's gold. In addition to eliminating the concept of sacrifice, selflessness, “teamwork” – unless it’s their soccer, football, baseball team - we have encouraged them to believe that any material item they desire can be theirs without lifting a finger. In this society of “bigger is better” and “who we are depends on what we have or can afford”, we are raising our children to be bottomless pits, who will always try to fill the voids in life with material possessions instead of opportunities to better themselves and society.

With a vast knowledge of child psychology at our fingertips, we try to do what’s best for our children, instead of what’s easiest for us. Let’s face it, it’s a lot easier to put the fear of God in our children by beating them to a pulp than to “democratize” the family unit, and respect children as real human beings. Child psychology made us scrutinize the way we raise our children. We no longer tolerate child abuse and realize children are not our possessions to treat as we wish but human beings who have rights. However, rather than stop there, we’ve taken the “all or nothing” approach and cast aside valuable lessons from past generations such as teaching children the value of a dollar, the importance of supporting the family unit, selflessness, the meaning of respect etc. Parents, who are able, instill an unprecedented sense of entitlement instead of preparing them for the reality that the world does not revolve around them and that they are entitled to very little.

Both parents normally work full-time to meet a standard of living that affords them not only everything they want, but everything their children want or think they want as well. These kids raised in "soccer mom" suburbia , grow up with no expectations of having to earn anything until they graduate college. Not only do they cost a fortune but all their materialistic wants and desires are met before their even aware of them, half the time.

One has to wonder what’s in it for these parents of these children? After all, the current generations of parents are not exactly known for depriving themselves. Baby-boomer parents (those born from approx. 1946-1964), the first generation of children in the US to cost more than they could ever contribute, and the first generation to experience the over-indulgence that post-WWII conditions made possible, creatively found the solution to lessening the “burden” of this expensive task, because we all know “baby-boomers”, couldn't fathom doing something for nothing, even raising their own children. There had to be something in it for them.

What makes parenting in "soccer mom" suburbia all worth it? For one, a second chance for Mom and Dad to vicariously achieve what they could not, temporarily finding a reprieve from growing old, the baby-boomer’s biggest fear. By over scheduling the childhood of their offspring away in all sorts of extra curricular activities, in order to show them off like prized race horses, today’s parents do not altruistically sacrifice themselves for the sake of their children. Not to say parents do not love their children just as much, if not more than generations of parents before them, but that their expectations are often very self-serving and not in the true best interest of their child even though it appears as if it is.

In the end, it all comes down to what’s in it for the parents. Are two parents working beneficial to the children if the second parent only works for more square footage, better vacations, and designer clothes? Or does the child benefit more from living in a smaller house, transported around in no-status cars, going on low cost vacations, shopping at Value City in an attempt to spend as much time as possible with him or her?

When we schedule every minute of our child’s time, is it because we truly believe this is the best thing for them? Or are we trying to do over our own childhood in an attempt to do the things we could not, were not very good at, or did so well that we want to relive the experience?

The answer is not always obvious, however, when you find yourself so involved in your child’s activities that you start to enjoy them more than your children, that’s always a clue that perhaps you may be using your child to forward your own agenda.

2 comments:

Anonymous,  12:32  

I don't get whether you are advocating for children or against children.

I understand what you are saying but I'm not understanding what your point is.

ih8soccermoms,  00:14  

I guess her point is that children are a pain in the ass.

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