Kids these days: a rant by Cassie Conti

I read an article the other day in Psychology Today called a Nation of Wimps.

In summary, kids these days are weenies who are over controlled by their parents.

Let me start off by saying I’m not perfect. I’m doing the best I can, just as I’m sure most parents are. However, there are so many styles of parenting out there to cling to, and I’m pretty happy that I just kind of go with the flow. It works for me.

Mostly I blame social media for making us as parents feel the need to either one up each other or be the very best.

I also blame Pinterest.

But while you’re here, get that dog off my lawn! I’m going old lady on you on my soapbox.

First, I’d like to know what happened to my generation? When I was a kid, I was raised on drinking water from the hose, playing outside until it was too dark to see my hands in front of my face and when my mom would say listen, I’d listen. My childhood was pretty uneventful and I liked it that way.

When I envisioned myself having children, I was excited that I’d get to relive some of it just by letting them be kids.

But it seems to me like the people of my generation decided that their childhoods were really awful and need to do a 180 for their own childs’ sake.

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a relatively young mother or am just laid back in nature, but I don’t get why parenting has become a sporting event. I kind of live my life where I wake up, do some stuff, keep the kids from killing themselves,  discipline them when necessary and pat myself on the back for making it through the day. Maybe throw in a little fist bump.

What I can’t get is why kids are so sterilized these days. I mean that literally and figuratively. There was a survey that said that 3 of 5 kids are sent to school with hand sanitizer. There was another study that showed that kids who use hand sanitizer also have found traces of it in their urine. No, not because they eat it, but because the skin absorbs it and the body metabolizes it and sooner or later, these kids won’t be able to fight off the super bugs that are out there.

I tell my kids to eat dirt. Let their bodies do what they’re supposed to do, and if it gets bad enough, then we intervene. I don’t deny them care, I simply give them a chance to build their own immunity. There was an e-card floating around the internet for a while that said, “No, hun, Mommy’s a nurse, so you only go to the doctor if you’re dying.” It’s more true than you can imagine.

Kids simply aren’t kids anymore. They seem stressed out and overtaxed. There’s a kid I know that goes to Claire’s Tae Kwon Do classes who does three other activities AND school. He always seems tired and unfocused. Yet his parent sits back and barks at him if he doesn’t do a move correctly. Now, I know I don’t live their life and such, but any person standing around could plainly see that the poor kid wasn’t having fun.

Aren’t kids supposed to have fun?

Take Luca. He did TKD for a short time, but he started getting belly aches over the mere thought of going to class. We tried chugging on for another few weeks, but it was plain to see he was miserable, so we pulled him out. While I’m not one to let my kids quit, when he’s making himself physically sick over it, it’s simply not worth it. Plainly put, he wasn’t having fun. Three year olds are supposed to have fun.

A friend of mine told me, “I tell my kids before they go to school to be kind, be positive and try your best. What more could I ask for? I’m not looking for perfection, just a good kid.”

Yes.

It’s almost as if some parents feel so gypped that they missed out on something specific in their childhood, that their kids HAVE TO DO IT. It is the parent’s own insecurities pushed on to their children and I have to say that sometimes it’s unfair.

One thing my mom got right (and there were a lot, I promise) was that she let Carly and I be kids. She let us be us and didn’t try to control our every move. So yes. I went through a phase where I looked like a boy and even got called sir (at the Declaration of Independence in DC! For shame DC security. FOR SHAME.) I wore oversize baggy tees and enjoyed getting dirty at the creek or just getting lost in the woods. While I may have looked a mess half the time, you bet I said please and thank you and minded my manners. When my mom would ask me to do something I’d do it. Sure, sometimes I’d roll my eyes or whathaveyou, but I respected her. Still do.

I demand respect from my children. It doesn’t come for free, though. I have to earn it. I give my kids boundaries and discipline and basic rules and we let life fill in the rest. Just today, Claire was acting defiant. I don’t really like that quality. It’s gross. You can demand to be heard without being a brat, but a brat she was, so I sent her to bed for nap time. I told her simply that when she gives me attitude, she’s tired and a nap should set her straight. She continued to carry on and I asked her if she was the kid or the adult. She gave me a smart mouth response that is totally not like her and so I calmly said, “Well then, since you know everything, you must be the adult. So you get to make your own dinner tonight, OK?”

That didn’t go over too well with her, but she’s napping now and we’ll get to have a lovely conversation about how not to act when she wakes up. I have to remember sometimes that she’s 5 and doesn’t know better, and it’s my  job to teach her. I also had to realize that that’s not typical Claire. So I had to modify my parenting somewhat.

Often times we as adults forget what it was like to be a kid. That we had to learn everything that now as adults have known forever. So sometimes I have to step back and remind myself that kids are simple. They want boundaries but the sense of freedom, they want attention but not to be overly obsessed over and they want to be loved. It’s pretty simple when you break it down.

Life isn’t supposed to be so difficult.

So now, as I get ready to step off my soapbox, please know that I’m doing my very damn best to make sure my kids are functional, self sufficient, reliable human beings for the future. This is my life. This is my job. I like to think so far I’m doing an OK job, but I still have a very long way to go and who the hell knows what’s coming up on the horizon. All I can do is stick to my principles and, as my friend said above, try my very best.

And let my kids be kids while they still have the time.

 

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About Cassie

Two sisters from two misters. What could be more fun?

Posted on May 11, 2013, in Cassie and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. I think you’re right on track. It sounds like we were raised similarly. As kids, we took off every summer day and played on our own. We played in grass, dirt, gravel and trees. We made our own friends and our own plans. The thought of my parents arranging “play dates” would be horrifying.

    We were expected to work within a set of rules and obey our parents at all times. When we didn’t, we got busted for it and there were consequences. By and by, we were pretty good kids.

    If I were a parent, I’d raise my kids the same way. As I frequently say, the only power other people (via Pintrest and other social media) have over you is that which you give them. The best thing I ever learned in school was how not to give a shit what anyone else thought.

    So sayeth Another Childless Douche.

  2. And this is one of the biggest reasons that you and I get along so well. We limit to one sport or activity at a time and if I can slide by with none, yay me! Eat the dirt. I’m almost anti-hand sanitizer at home because I like to encourage the good bugs…if you train them, they’re like Rottweilers among germs and will help protect my kids from the scary crap we see at work every day.
    You’re doing an awesome job with your kids. They’re polite, respectful and giving, all the while being stubborn, arguing kids at the same time.
    There’s just enough of us around any more, my friend. And it’s a shame.

    • It really is. I’m tired of people wanting teachers to raise their kids. What ever happened to, I don’t know, parenting? You don’t have to spank or make your kids fearful of you just to get your point across. In fact, whispering in their ear is much more effective than yelling.

  3. I am slowly coming around to chilling out more. But the hubby? Forget it. A couple of weeks ago, when I was tired from working (you know, back to FT, after a 9.5 year hiatus), and the kid went across the street to play, the hubby asked if I was okay with letting her play where I could not see her. I said I sure was! He also does not understand why I don’t bat an eyelash when she comes home from school with a skinned knee or why I don’t get worked up that the after-school-care person lets the kids climb short trees.

    I am also cool with some/most germs, but I draw the line when it comes to eating. At the kid’s school, they do not go to the bathroom (i.e., wash their hands) before they eat. I am pretty sure we never did either when I was a kid, but that just bothers me, so there is alcohol-based hand sanitizer in her lunch bag.

    I don’t think I would do half as well as with four (or even three) kids, and I know that was not the point of this post, but you are doing a bang-up job in my book. Happy Mother’s Day!

    • Agreed. You need to wash your hands before you eat. That’s just silly not to. When I was a kid, we’d always wash before we ate. It was a rule. Seems kind of gross they don’t anymore.

  4. I agree! You have to set your boundaries, let them know what they are, but still allow them the freedom to explore, discover and learn. I just hope that I can give Sarah the best childhood possible and I’m thankful that we live in a relatively safe neighborhood!

    And I agree with Bluz about social media. I’m a fan of Pinterest, but I don’t let it control my life. Inspiration, when taken the correct way, can be a great thing.

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