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Too much love in the home?
July 31, 2008 12:56 PM   Subscribe

The Kindergarchy: An essay on modern parenting.
posted by kimdog (113 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Uphill, both ways, in the driving snow.
posted by ekstasis23 at 1:00 PM on July 31, 2008 [3 favorites]


So, he really does want the kids off his lawn. And their parents too.
posted by never used baby shoes at 1:03 PM on July 31, 2008 [4 favorites]


It was a better article when I read Toby Young's funny piece about ferrying kids around to parties and sport practice in last week's Spectator.

Shouldn't the 'g' in kindergarchy be removed, really?
posted by parmanparman at 1:07 PM on July 31, 2008


"I raised myself and I turned out fine! Kids today are spoiled!"

Is that what you got? That's what I got.
posted by lysdexic at 1:08 PM on July 31, 2008 [21 favorites]


For the past 30 years at least, we have been lavishing vast expense and anxiety on our children in ways that are unprecedented in American and in perhaps any other national life.

And, for the last thirty years, we (well, I'm not an American) have experienced unprecedented prosperity, longevity, health and innovation.

What was the world like up until 30 years ago? A hundred years ago, children were still working in the coal mines and sweat shops.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:09 PM on July 31, 2008 [3 favorites]


Lysdexic, that's what I got too, but with a bit of upper-middle-class-crustitude on the side.
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 1:10 PM on July 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


The irony, if I'm understanding the generations correctly, is that the child rearing environment that he decries now is pretty much the environment that's going to produce parents just like the ones he had.
posted by lysdexic at 1:11 PM on July 31, 2008


This is bound to be a lively discussion about an article that most participants only had the patience to skim.

If you can get over your knee-jerk reactionism over whether an older person might have anything interesting to say about the way certain trends have evolved over the last hundred years, you might find some interesting insights there. Sure, it's just one person's experience, one person's thoughts. But then again, that's what an essay is, and it was presented as such.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 1:14 PM on July 31, 2008 [3 favorites]


This will have to wait until I get home and find the magazine, but Wilson's Quarterly did about half an issue dedicated to the industry of child rearing advice. It actually started more than 100 years ago, and came complete with competing schools of thought and themes and advice.
posted by lysdexic at 1:15 PM on July 31, 2008


What an incredibly stupid and self-indulgent article. Proust he isn't, even if he wants to be.

About par for the course, I guess, for the Weekly Standard.
posted by nasreddin at 1:16 PM on July 31, 2008


At first, I thought I saw where he was going, but then it just got weird.

So.... it's a good thing to have parents who completely ignore you, barely interact with you, etc? Probably, then, it's a bad thing that I hug my kids, too?

I can certainly see a good argument to be made that perhaps, we as a society "think of the children" a bit too much, but I don't think this is how I would make it.
posted by gregvr at 1:16 PM on July 31, 2008


Old people don't approve of my parenting. Film at eleven.
posted by padraigin at 1:19 PM on July 31, 2008 [4 favorites]


Get to the damn point. I gave up reading it after a while. Sounds like I didn't miss anything. My daughter's name is Mackenzie, which ia about where I stopped reading.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 1:20 PM on July 31, 2008


I prefer the variety of Kindergarchy that Plato discusses in his Wee-public.
posted by Bromius at 1:23 PM on July 31, 2008 [7 favorites]


I agree with this guy. Everything in this country has been dumbed-down, neutered, and coated with an inch-thick layer of foam because of litigious fuckwads and "but what about the children?!" overprotective parents.

Fuck 'em all. Bring back fun.

Maybe if growing up and having kids didn't have to entail checking your adult life at the door, more people would want to do it.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:25 PM on July 31, 2008 [6 favorites]


So I guess we're proving his point then? Okay.
posted by Naberius at 1:26 PM on July 31, 2008


Damn those kids, eh? But I've outwitted the buggers -- I'm not having any, and they can't make me, pah!
posted by bonaldi at 1:27 PM on July 31, 2008


If I ever read anything criticizing "parenting" that doesn't reek of utter comtempt or outright hatred of women and mothers, I will be shocked.
posted by peep at 1:28 PM on July 31, 2008 [17 favorites]


So I guess we're proving his point then? Okay.

Hell no. My kids may have gone to preschool (ooooh), but right now they're beating the crap out of each other with light sabers in the back yard. I haven't seen them since lunch.
posted by padraigin at 1:28 PM on July 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


contempt, damn it.
posted by peep at 1:28 PM on July 31, 2008


I wonder if responses to this article will break down along child-having/childless lines.
posted by everichon at 1:29 PM on July 31, 2008


I agree with the article somewhat. I see many of my friends who have children who have completely disappeared into the abyss that is parenthood. They talk about nothing but their kids, they do nothing without their children, they are not individuals any longer. They are "parents". Part of my motivation for not having children is that I'm unwilling to live up to the current standards of good parenting. I don't want to surrender my life to soccer games, plays, and so forth. Sure, it'd be neat to have another little me around, but dude...making that person into a little me? Apparently was a hell of a lot of work. At least it was according to my folks.

Of course, if I could be a parent like his parents were (I'd only want to be a Dad, because Moms back then had way more limitations and more work) I'd do it. Maybe.
posted by teleri025 at 1:30 PM on July 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


If you can get over your knee-jerk reactionism over whether an older person might have anything interesting to say about the way certain trends have evolved over the last hundred years

How about the reaction that the whole thing reads like a spittle-flecked tirade?

I do think that "kids today" are over-parented, in many cases, and especially in the upper-middle-class bubble with which he seems concerned. And I find many of these young people really off-putting. But as soon as he starts ranting about his former students, in the final third, he tips from curmudgeon to asshole.

Despite what their parents had been telling them from the very outset of their lives, they were not significant. Significance has to be earned, and it is earned only through achievement. [...] One's fierce little opinions were all very well, but without the substance of accomplishment behind them, they meant nothing.

Gag me, as they say, with a spoon.
posted by uncleozzy at 1:33 PM on July 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


Atleast Socrates kept his old fartism concise:
The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for
authority, they show disrespect to their elders.... They no longer
rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,
chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their
legs, and are tyrants over their teachers.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:34 PM on July 31, 2008 [18 favorites]


I found the article interesting. The difference I see among my friends (late 30s-early 40s) raising children and my parents is somewhat astonishing. There are five children in my family. My parents did not play with us or read to us. We played with each other. We learned how to read at school. After I learned to read, I became a voracious reader but it wasn't because of my parents.

There was no Gymboree, play dates, Mommy and Me. My father helped around the house and so did the older kids. I had a job in high school. Right now, I don't know a single working teenager.

I also feared my parents disapproval but as long as I kept my nose clean and made good grades they stayed out of my hair. We watched what my father wanted to watch on TV, Gunsmoke, Bonanza and Manix.

I think people are wealthier now and that has made a tremendous difference. We didn't have a TV in our bedrooms or expensive toys like today's PS2 or Wii. Parents today are both much more involved and indulgent than when I was a child.
posted by shoesietart at 1:34 PM on July 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Men helping their pregnant wives?

WHAT IS HAPPENING TO THIS COUNTRY?
posted by sondrialiac at 1:37 PM on July 31, 2008 [7 favorites]


I agree with him when he's bemoaning materialism--nobody needs a $400 stroller or all those toys--and disagree when he's talking about cultural experiences and attention. He'd have had a richer life if his parents had paid more attention to him and taken him to museums and national parks. He shouldn't begrudge the next generation these experiences.
posted by goatdog at 1:38 PM on July 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


I could see where he was going, too. He just went too far in an effort to rile up his readers. He's flaunting his curmudgeon-hood a little too much if you ask me.

I'm not a parent, but I have many nephews and nieces ranging in age from 6-30. I've known the oldest ones for the last 15 years. I do see in some of their households that the kids entirely rule the roost. I can't stand this.

The youngest one, a little girl, was over at my house at a big family gathering. I was playing music in the background and she wanted to put on some Disney stuff. Fine, I played some. Then after a while, I changed it back to something else, and she basically yelled at me not to change it. In my house. On my stereo.

Well, I changed it, didn't yell back, just simply said we listened to her music for a while, now I'm going to change it to something else. I think I deeply freaked her out by doing this. This may have been the one time anyone told her no over choice of entertainment.

So there's an anecdote. But it does seem that parenting varies hugely within different households, even within an extended family.

And enough with the Courtneys, Taylors, Tiffanys, etc. If you want to be different, be different, and not name your kid something ephemeral and trendy as a pair of orange Crocs.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 1:38 PM on July 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


tl;gave up halfway. I have kids to handle - GET TO THE POINT OLD MAN.
posted by GuyZero at 1:38 PM on July 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Actually, I'm kind of wondering what his point was, reallly. It was all over the place. First he's happy with the way he was brought up, but didn't raise his kids that way.

As for insignificance and the "snowflake" syndrome - the individuals he liked best were the ones who hadn't been treated as individuals? Ok, so he liked kids who had some humility, or he liked kids who did what he wanted them to do?

"Seen and not heard", "speak when spoken to". Great, so as long as everyone obeys the status quo, we'll all be fine. Yeah, no thanks. It's harder work, but I want my kids to be able to think critically and be equipped to change things when they see they can and must.

He's also cherrypicking his "data" - not everyone thinks like Millenium Mom, though thankfully not everyone thinks like the Pearls or the Ezzos.

If he'd gone on about helicopter parents, I'd be right there, but this meandering essay seemed to be more about personal beefs with individuals dressed up as a critique on society.

On preview - maybe he's decrying affluenza?
posted by lysdexic at 1:41 PM on July 31, 2008


teleri025: You can be any kind of parent you decide to be... or maybe it's more accurate to say you are bound be the kind of parent that a person like you would be. The people the article is going on about (and I know some of them too, and laugh and laugh at their foibles, and feel bad for their smothered kids) generally don't have much going on besides having kids. So they kind of latch on to that and make it their reason for existing. Other people have huge collectins of Star Wars paraphernalia. I mean, boring people are not limited to parents, y'know?

Lots of people have interesting lives and also kids. What strikes me about the article is what his parents missed by ignoring their children. "My mother never read to me," he says. Really? That's very sad for her. Personally, I kind of doubt it -- a lot of that reads like selective memory. But if so, that's a shame. Not for his sake, but hers.
posted by rusty at 1:45 PM on July 31, 2008


And this is my last, unless I can contriute something useful later on...

No, you can't have too much love in the home. You can, however, have too many things.
posted by lysdexic at 1:47 PM on July 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Bitter, self-absorbed, and lacking in any data whatsoever. Someone needs a kiss from his mommy.
posted by thatbrunette at 1:48 PM on July 31, 2008 [4 favorites]


Back in my day the kids worked in the mill from sun up to sun down, got one bowl of cold dirt to eat, and they were damn happy for it! Bahhhh! Oh, my back! Get me my pain pills! Hush up! Oprah's on!
posted by StarForce5 at 1:48 PM on July 31, 2008


I bet if I asked him about Indigo Children, I'd get to see see his head explode.
posted by Lou Stuells at 1:52 PM on July 31, 2008 [3 favorites]


He thinks the way he was parented was better. I think the way I parent is better. Such is life.

Because the author wasn't told he was loved, read to, or included on trips, this was somehow a better way to be brought up? You can do these things without being coddled.

I happen to believe that my children are precious. They are precious to me, my husband, and our family. I happen to think my children are human beings that deserve respect and deserve to be heard. Do I allow them to interrupt and act rudely? No. They are not raised with a sense of entitlement.

I do not over parent. I do not micromanage. I do go to their games and I do tell them I love them and they get plenty of hugs. They are read to. We have a wonderful time on trips we take together. They are my family and a part of my life and bring much happiness. They are included. They aren't the center of my life, Metafilter is.
posted by LoriFLA at 1:54 PM on July 31, 2008 [10 favorites]


Metafilter: The Center of Your Life.
posted by wabbittwax at 1:57 PM on July 31, 2008


We are all LoriFLA's children.

(i feel loved)
posted by Afroblanco at 2:02 PM on July 31, 2008


Ten or so years ago I began to notice that a large number of people born around the late 1930s and through the 1940s had, as I do, a brother or sister five or six years younger or older than they.

That's about where I stopped reading. Statistically he's very much in the minority, and pretty much every conclusion he draws after that is a product of a poorly researched premise.
posted by tkolar at 2:02 PM on July 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


I was raised like the author of the article. So were most of my contemporaries. I agree with the author inasmuch as there is a lot of bad and indulgent parenting going on today, but I suspect there was probably a lot of bad and non-indulgent parenting back in the day.

One thing I wonder about: do teenagers really not have jobs these days, typically? Once I hit the age where I could work, my modest allowance stopped...if I wanted money, I had to earn it.

Then again, I learned a friend gives his 13-year-old daughter $75 a week allowance. Jesus.
posted by maxwelton at 2:06 PM on July 31, 2008


A larger and larger segment of the student population seems to bring its own psychological tics and jiggeroos to school with them: ADHD, dyslexia and other learning disabilities, various degrees of depression requiring regimens of pills and therapy sessions. [...] Might others be that the children are so intensely watched over and tested that more and more defects and disabilities show up, some among them possibly imaginary?

Yeah, the depression I've had since I was 12 is made up. I can stop being depressed anytime I want to.

Cher is dyslexic, by the way. It's not "made up" or new by any means. This guy is a douche.

Sorry, I'm pissed off. Bad day at work and then Manny gets traded.
posted by giraffe at 2:08 PM on July 31, 2008


I was all set to like this article, as I find some of the newly-minted parents in my acquaintance to be really annoying, for the usual reasons.

I couldn't, though--it was rambling and crabby, and by the time he was using names like MacKenzie and Madison as evidence of...something, he lost me entirely.

Now can we pick some more on self-absorbed parents who walk around with The Glow and don't come to dinners any more? I haven't got all day.
posted by everichon at 2:10 PM on July 31, 2008


Summary:
"Anecdote, generalization, generalization, generalization, parents these days...
Generalization, anecdote, generalization, damned kids...
Anecdote, generalization, it was better back in my parents day, generalization...
Generalization, anecdote, get off my lawn."

While the author has some points (don't micromanage) I think the incessant generalizations are ridiculous. All parents demand their kid goes to Harvard? All parents meddle in their kids education? Balderdash. Using the author's same personal observation of aquaintences data-collection method I could assert that all Americans are writers, artist, and waitresses who rent, enjoy music more than sports, and that Obama will win in a 98% landslide.
posted by lekvar at 2:14 PM on July 31, 2008


So often in my literature classes students told me what they "felt" about a novel, or a particular character in a novel. I tried, ever so gently, to tell them that no one cared what they felt; the trick was to discover not one's feelings but what the author had put into the book, its moral weight and its resultant power.

I bet this guy LOVES postmodernism.

The truth is, I grew up a lot like this guy in the 70s and 80s, with the exception that my brother was only 3 years old so we had a close relationship. Most of the kids I know were raised the same way, i.e. left alone to play and figure out whatever the hell we wanted to do with our lives. My brother taught me to read before I can remember, so I don't remember anyone ever reading to me.

...

I read the whole article and now I feel stupid for doing so. I think his only point is to disparage the "progressive elite" who love their children too much. Or just to shout at those kids on his lawn. Or because he's mad at the way his kids raise their kids ... who knows? Crappy essay.

Taylor, Tiffany, Courtney. If you're gonna to pick some "wacko" names, you could do a lot better. Tiffany is from the Middle Ages, ferjedssake.

Names change from generation to generation. If I want to make up a new name for my kid, you all can sit and spin.

on preview: Manny got traded! AWESOME! he's the only Boston player I like. Now I can let the pure, unadulterated hate flow freely. Flow, hate, flow! (Oh no ... he's a Dodger! That might be worse ...)

I do agree, though. This guy is a major douche (or a dead skunk in the road, to borrow a phrase). Reminds me of Michael Savage's famous comments about autism.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:16 PM on July 31, 2008


man, I thought that article was going to be about how all marketing and retail and media in this country is aimed at 13 year old girls, and I was all ready to agree. TV folks realized that most people who have reached the advanced old age of 18 will already watch whatever the hell you tell them to on the tv, and that they have to start worrying about how they can afford drugs/alcohol/rent instead of buying crappy music and movies. But 13 year old girls are really picky, have their parents' pocket books firmly in their grasp and don't have any other costs to worry about besides whatever stupid flashy thing has their attention at the moment. This is why American Idol is the biggest thing on tv, why Miley Cyrus has a career, and why fashion is entirely built around the understanding that women will be wearing a baby doll t shirt with SLUT written on it in rhinestones. at all times. with hideous gigantic C.H.I.P.S. style sunglasses.

that's the article i was expecting. I was not expecting Abraham Simpson to start telling me about the time when Rockefeller dropped money from a giant zeppelin.
posted by shmegegge at 2:18 PM on July 31, 2008 [8 favorites]


First off: Giraffe, all of the news I'm seeing shows that the talks with Florida are actualy breaking down, and that we'll probably (better than even chances) have Manny until his contract runs out at the end of the season. (hope hope hope)

Secondly, I agree with this guy, and he could not have done a better job at making me hate his opinion. I was even willing to give the Weekly Standard the benefit of the doubt here, but argument by "The way I was raised is obviously the way it should be done" is a particularly daft kind of bullshit. That said...

I really am quite happy with the way I was raised, which isn't too different from the way the author was raised, but had the added benefit of never doubting my parents' love and attention towards me, even as they granted me the freedom to live my own life.

I'm about to run off to visit my oldest brother, and he's a unique guy who takes a little bit of explanation. Born in 1970, 10 and a half years before me, he's assiduously avoided all trends which don't comport with his liberal sensibilities born in the 70's about what life is supposed to be like and how children should be raised, and he's passed those on to me my entire life as well. He and I are the only people left that I've met who still ski in jeans, for instance. He's the only person I know who still calls pot "grass," for another. Small things, but anyway, he's a wonderful, wonderful father of a very well-adjusted and happy daughter, because he doesn't ignore her, but doesn't over-parent her either. He's a more strict disciplinarian than I would have imagined from him, but it's never done in a harsh way, just in a way which makes it clear that he's the boss.

My over-parented nephews are sweet and wonderful as well, and I really have nothing bad to say about my sister, except that her oldest child simply refuses to solve any problem on his own, and cannot deal if he's out of her presence. This is wrong to me.

So yeah, give your kids freedom, because they need to explore and they need to make their own mistakes and all that. But there's nothing wrong with giving your kids all the love in the world as well. Especially at the age when doing so might embarrass them a little. That's when they probably need it the most.

(as a side note, while in "the real world," not everybody is special, doesn't that make it just that much more important that there be a place for everybody where they are little snowflakes? Just sayin'.)
posted by Navelgazer at 2:22 PM on July 31, 2008


You know, I'm old enough I can remember when this guy actually had interesting things to say. But now, yeah, it's pure "get off my lawn." I've told my wife if she ever hears me talking unironically about "kids these days," she should first slap me to see if I come out of it, then put me down like a dog. I gave up on the article when he got into his '60s rant.

I don't for a moment mean to suggest that such an upbringing produced a superior generation of adults.

Oh, no, no! Farthest thing from my mind! Better than all you overprivileged, pampered, spoiled, ridiculous younger people, but superior? Gosh no!
posted by languagehat at 2:22 PM on July 31, 2008


The names Mackenzie and Gideon are a reminder of how important the naming of children has become under the Kindergarchy. No more Edward, Robert, David, when you can have Luc, Guthrie, and Colby; no more Jane, Barbara, Lois, when Lindsay, Courtney, and Kelsey are available.

Isn't it crazy how baby names go in and out of fashion today? Whatever happened to good old solid names like Barbara? Oh, I should mention that the name "Barbara" was 20 times more popular during Epstein's childhood in the 30's than it had been at the turn of the century. And you can bet that old dudes in the 1930s would say to Epstein's parents, "What the hell is wrong with a good old solid name like Florence?"
posted by escabeche at 2:25 PM on July 31, 2008 [6 favorites]


I don't for a moment mean to suggest that such an upbringing produced a superior generation of adults. What it produced was another group of people who later spent their lives going about the world's business, with no strong grudges against their parents or anger at such abstract enemies as The System.

Actually, given when he says he was born, what it produced was a generation of individuals who, being slightly too young to participate in the greatest and most just conflict of their time, proceeded to settle back into the comfortable and hard-purchased prosperity of their parents and indulge themselves in a mindset of greed and entitlement so spectacular that now appears to have fucked up the planet to the point where their grandchildren and great-grandchildren will have it much tougher than they did. Go Boomers!
posted by The Bellman at 2:25 PM on July 31, 2008 [10 favorites]


My friend and I backpacked through Europe a couple of years ago. We first landed in London and I found the kids there to be loud and whiny. They felt they could run around anywhere and didn't seem to care if they ran into you or got in your damn way. But I really didn't mind. I'm from the US, so I was used to that.

Then we went through Spain, France, Belgium, Holland. I think it was somewhere in Germany where I turned to my friend and asked him if he's noticed any kids since we'd been on the Continent. He thought for a second and admitted that no, he hadn't. Of course we'd seen kids. But we didn't notice them because they were generally quiet and polite, "seen and not heard" and all that.

Granted, my observations weren't that thorough. Maybe it had something to do with the language barrier. If anyone had a different opinion, let me know. But I think it would be hilarious to tell a columnist for the Weekly Standard that he's suggesting we need to be more like Holland and France. Probably send him into some choking, Pavlovian rage.
posted by Kronoss at 2:26 PM on July 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


"[After the 1960s] Childrearing became a highly self-conscious activity, in all of its facets. . . Pregnant women were advised not to smoke, not to drink, not to do a great many other things that generations of expectant mothers had always done, lest their children pay the price in ill-health, if not actual birth defects."

Half a page later:
"ADHD, dyslexia and other learning disabilities, various degrees of depression requiring regimens of pills and therapy sessions. Some of these defects and disabilities are the result of parents' having their children at a later age."

Smoking and drinking while pregnant? A-OK. Being 35 years old while pregnant? Unforgiveable selfishness!
posted by doift at 2:27 PM on July 31, 2008 [3 favorites]


This guy's parents never took him on vacation, never played with him, read to him? Why the hell did they have children at all?

I do agree with him about the names. I have been keeping a list of loathesome modern names like Kaeden, Kasidey, Caeli, and Kaelen (all real, I assure you)... Did all the other people in my generation not learn how to spell?
posted by chowflap at 2:31 PM on July 31, 2008


I agree with the article somewhat. I see many of my friends who have children who have completely disappeared into the abyss that is parenthood.

Perhaps their children were just more fun to hang out with. Don't like children don't have em.
posted by humanfont at 2:33 PM on July 31, 2008


Ten or so years ago I began to notice that a large number of people born around the late 1930s and through the 1940s had, as I do, a brother or sister five or six years younger or older than they. [...]Then it occurred to me that mothers in those days decided not to have a second child until their first child, at five or six, had gone off to school.

Amazing that mothers were airily making this decision during a period where few women had access to safe, reliable, legal methods of birth control. Epic fail from the first premise, goes downhill from there.

Also, no fair baiting and switching with the length like that. Page 1 is four paragraphs, so you're thinking, "He's crotchety, but at least he's brief," and then page 2 is the Rime of the Ancient Fuckin' Mariner.
posted by cirocco at 2:38 PM on July 31, 2008 [17 favorites]


Kids today are much stringier.
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:39 PM on July 31, 2008


While there are some points I guess I agree with in a very general sense (wow, entitlement issues amongst children are soaring because the people who raised them had the same disease! who could have guessed?!?), it's all anecdotal and "I think this is the case, hence it must be" declarations.

I'd like to see more of the "it's like this because..." stuff backed up with facts or have him explicitly say this is just a rant.
posted by batmonkey at 2:40 PM on July 31, 2008


I enjoyed the article, as off-kilter as parts of it were, just because I've had a lot of bad experiences in movie theaters with parents who don't want to discourage their precious little treasures from talking all through the film. A mean-spirited rant, maybe, but not without some truth in it.
posted by arcanecrowbar at 2:42 PM on July 31, 2008


I deal with kids and their parents on a daily basis, and I can assure you that there is an entire spectrum of parental involvement out there. Sure some parents are more involved than others, but my sample size is almost certainly greater than his, and I assure you, there are many parents out there who cannot be bothered to bathe their kids or see that their teeth are brushed, much less micromanage their social schedule.

And I also see much better names: Chaos, Metallica, Dijonnaise, and not one but 2 Xochtl's (both of which are actually adults).
posted by TedW at 2:45 PM on July 31, 2008 [4 favorites]


"I have always thought," says Joseph Epstein, "that if one wants to be a writer, he must first make himself incompetent in everything else."

Hey, it worked!
posted by escabeche at 2:46 PM on July 31, 2008


To me "overparenting" is not a useful word--parenting is the art of raising a well-adjusted human being, within the limitations of your skills and their personalities. And you will always screw it up somehow; there is no perfect parenting.

Some kids need more of your attention, some less. Some parents project their own neuroses on their kids by scheduling them to death and structuring their entire lives; some parents don't help their kids at all. Neither of those is an ideal to strive for.

We generally have fewer kids these days, we generally have them later, and so we invest in them more because we can. And apparently certain members of society will always be panicking about the next generation being hopelessly ruined.
posted by emjaybee at 2:50 PM on July 31, 2008


Right now, I don't know a single working teenager.

Really? You don't? Next time you go grocery shopping, or to Starbucks or eat at a restaurant, think about this.


One thing I wonder about: do teenagers really not have jobs these days, typically? Once I hit the age where I could work, my modest allowance stopped...if I wanted money, I had to earn it.


I don't know about "typically," but teenagers make up about half the workforce at the large department store where I work, and I can personally vouch for their great work ethics.
posted by jschu at 2:57 PM on July 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Won't someone not think of the children?

I was vaguely with him in a non-committal way until he asserted that teachers were being driven from schools by over attentive parents. Funny, I don't think any public school teacher I've ever talked to would say that parents are taking too much interest in education as a whole.

(That, and he brought up New Trier bringing back memories of picking fights with the bitchy rich girls that were always doing coke in the bathroom at Denny's after school. I didn't see a single Lacrosse stick on 'em.)

But seriously, he doesn't have a problem with the way people parent. He has a problem with the way a select group of white people with disposable income and a sense of entitlement parent.

If a household is not WASP, single breadwinner and in the upper tax bracket, I fail to see how any of this applies.
posted by Gucky at 3:00 PM on July 31, 2008


I sort of kind of agree with some of this, while finding the whole thing kind of arseholish. The appropriate response would be some kind of combination of "Hmm" and "Meh".
posted by Artw at 3:01 PM on July 31, 2008


All cultures collapse. The fact that we've seen old people complaining about the young in other cultures doesn't mean they're wrong. It's not something to dismiss so glibly. Cultures die, and despite our knowledge of history, it keeps happening over and over.

A lot of old people complain about the young: the fact that they've done it in cultures that died is not an indicator that there's nothing to worry about. Old people have complained for millennia, and civilizations have collapsed for millennia. This is just a correlation, but it's one worth thinking about.

We make a fundamental mistake of projecting how things are now into both the past and future:

"Oh, it's always been like that."
"Oh, things will never change."


These are probably the two most profoundly and provably false things humans say.
posted by Malor at 3:07 PM on July 31, 2008 [7 favorites]


I know where he can find some parents in the US that don't "overparent"; who don't buy their kids lots of crap and who rarely if ever take them on vacation: they're called the working poor, they live in the United States, and they are often working multiple "part-time" jobs in order to get by, a schedule which doesn't allow them much time to focus excessively on their kids.
posted by tractorfeed at 3:11 PM on July 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


Stringier, how so, turgid dahlia?

I find kids today to be generally plump and moist. When you finish them in the oven on grill (above 450' F), they'll even caramelize a little in their own body fats like a goose at the end of Autumn. If you prefer a slightly crispier skin, try rubbing vinegar all over their skin just before roasting, I think you'll like the effect and it gives a much nicer colour when serving at the table.

If you pick the right ones, even their internal organs have that handy bolus of liquid gold - no need to jab them with syringes filled with molten butter!

I am, however, worried about all the preservatives that they all come in. Sometimes I just import them from free-range countries where they don't have ho-ho's and twinkies. Eating healthier takes a little more time as you usually have to brine them overnight and stuff slivers of frozen butter into them first before cooking.
posted by porpoise at 3:11 PM on July 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Crabby asshole or not, the term Kindergarchy perfectly sums up child rearing circa 2008. Here's the number of friends that I have that DON'T have a bunch of High School Musical CD's in the car - zero. It's important that the little dauphine never have to listen to something adult. How would the child dwell in the perfect amniotic fluid of constant entertainment if they had to listen to a baseball game or heaven forbid, political discourse while in the car.

I also like his point about bragging about your kids mad post-doctoral level literary tastes and reading skills. True that.
posted by Keith Talent at 3:15 PM on July 31, 2008


I definitely see differences in the way I was raised and the way I see kids being dealt with today, and I think that this is going to have a serious impact on the way these children see the world when they get older: My grandparents were World War 2 generation, and as pragmatic as they come. They raised my mother who was a 1960's hippy, who ended up with an inflated sense of self worth (compared to her parents), she had me and I grew up as a part of Generation X, a group which helped to redefine the idea of self entitlement, and now I see the people my age raising kids who are going to just raise the bar.

Between the constant efforts to reinforce this idea that they are special and unique, and that they need to be protected from everything, (not just physically, through helmets, and pads at playgrounds, and soft edged toys, but mentally as well: demanding that games, music, books, and movies be made kid safe.)

I wonder, as these kids grow up, how these they are going to handle being in a world that doesn't find them special or unique and really couldn't give a shit if they are safe or not.
posted by quin at 3:23 PM on July 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


I didn't work as a teenager, except for a couple of summers at the same company my father worked, getting rides in with him.

Of course, maybe that had just a little bit to do with the fact that I lived in Suburbia, where the nearest business of any kind was too far away to be regularly accessible except by car.

As for the get-off-my-lawn bullcrap, I would just ignore it, except that soon (maybe even now) I'm going to be paying this jackass's social security, and that peeves me off.

I will note that it does make me want to have some kids, and take them to museums, and name them all Gideon, and send him photos of me and my Gideons at cultural events.
posted by Tomorrowful at 3:26 PM on July 31, 2008


loathesome modern names like Kaeden, Kasidey, Caeli, and Kaelen (all real, I assure you)... Did all the other people in my generation not learn how to spell?

I hereby declare that all names should revert to their original root spelling. For instance, anyone named Kevin will now be required to spell it "Caoimhín."

(All you folks from places with a strictly oral tradition will just have to stick with the spellings the first literate folks came up when they "discovered" your region.)

On second thought- nah. Spell it anyway you want.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:46 PM on July 31, 2008 [3 favorites]


My 5-year-old daughter requested Leonard Cohen the other day in the car. She also loves Pete Seeger. And we broke down the lyrics of the song Big Store by Nikki Sudden a couple months ago. I, personally, do enjoy getting some My Little Pony on, so it goes both ways.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 3:48 PM on July 31, 2008


This phenomenon was made grossly apparent to me by an ex-gf. We were visiting her hometown for the weekend, and this night we were having dinner and cocktails with her brothers, their wives and kids. One of the kids was a 12 year-old boy in seventh grade, who basically spent the entire night annoying the living shit out of me. It was a bunch of adults drinking and trying to have a conversation, and this twelve year old kid was literally jumping around all over the couches, causing people to spill their drinks and stuff.

Then the kid announces that he has to go to the bathroom. I find that a bit odd. Why not just go, ya little fucker? Why announce it? Then his aunt, my GF says, "well who's going to go with him?"

Apparently the kid was scared to go into the bathroom because he was afraid of ghosts. A twelve year old kid, in seventh grade. Even if he was afraid, he ought to have been too embarassed to admit it. Seems that his kinderarchal upbringing had left him somehwat socially retarded. Either that or he just wanted to show my GF his dick!

His entire family was indulging this notion. My GF went into the bathroom with him, where I guess she watched him pee.

Anyhow, that's when I decided this was not the girl to settle down and have kids with. Where would I be today if she had said "Don't be silly. Go by yourself."
posted by autodidact at 3:50 PM on July 31, 2008


?
posted by autodidact at 3:50 PM on July 31, 2008


I wonder, as these kids grow up, how these they are going to handle being in a world that doesn't find them special or unique and really couldn't give a shit if they are safe or not.

They will be shattered, their minds and souls broken on this terrible machine we call life. Then hopefully they'll get over it, get a job, and learn to fucking cope.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 4:16 PM on July 31, 2008


For better or worse, times have changed. Its not just the parenting that has undergone a revolution, its the culture. That is not to say that parents should not be held responsible for their child's upbringing. But the constant barrage of media, music, toys, and websites seems to be shouting a single, consistent message loud and clear: It's all about me! To say that loving your children and wanting the best for them translates to a spoiled, over-indulged child is too simplistic. Its not hugging your child and letting them know they are important to you that is resulting in ego-centric, materialistic, vapid individuals. Its telling them they important without telling them why.
posted by Chromakey at 4:26 PM on July 31, 2008


autodidact, that sounds like a kid with a problem or maybe too much sugar or other allergen in his diet. The well 12-year-olds I know don't act like that, but the brain-injured (or learning disabled, if you prefer) 12-year-olds I know often do.
posted by chihiro at 4:26 PM on July 31, 2008


Actually, some of the poorest people I know lavish more attention on their kids, and live more kid-centered lives, than my upper middle class professional racked-by-guilt friends with kids.

Every generation bitches like this when they reach a certain age. But as I see it, we live in more of a senarchy than a kindergarchy.

One thing for sure -- all these people in their 70s and 80s would not have lived this long a couple of generations back.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:34 PM on July 31, 2008


autodidact writes: This phenomenon was made grossly apparent to me by an ex-gf. We were visiting her hometown for the weekend, and this night we were having dinner and cocktails with her brothers, their wives and kids. One of the kids was a 12 year-old boy in seventh grade, who basically spent the entire night annoying the living shit out of me. It was a bunch of adults drinking and trying to have a conversation, and this twelve year old kid was literally jumping around all over the couches, causing people to spill their drinks and stuff.

Then the kid announces that he has to go to the bathroom. I find that a bit odd. Why not just go, ya little fucker? Why announce it? Then his aunt, my GF says, "well who's going to go with him?"

Apparently the kid was scared to go into the bathroom because he was afraid of ghosts. A twelve year old kid, in seventh grade. Even if he was afraid, he ought to have been too embarassed to admit it. Seems that his kinderarchal upbringing had left him somehwat socially retarded. Either that or he just wanted to show my GF his dick!

His entire family was indulging this notion. My GF went into the bathroom with him, where I guess she watched him pee.

Anyhow, that's when I decided this was not the girl to settle down and have kids with. Where would I be today if she had said "Don't be silly. Go by yourself."


What about the other kids, the ones that didn't cause trouble? Seems like you forgotten about them. Maybe this kid actually has some problem, did you think of that? Maybe that's why his parents let him be, because they know he isn't screwing around, that he cannot help it.



Your favorite anecdote sucks, I guess.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 4:39 PM on July 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


Well, I found an excerpt online here: The Century of The Child by Ann Hulbert.

She has another interesting article, too.
posted by lysdexic at 4:41 PM on July 31, 2008


Sooo... if I raise my kids now like it's the 1940s, they can turn on, tune in, drop out in the 2030s? Awesome. I'm going to stop playing with them straight away so that I can have grandchildren with cool names like Moonbeam and Meadow. That's the sort of retro I can deal with. :)
posted by adamt at 4:54 PM on July 31, 2008


I'm about as far away on the political spectrum from the usual Weekly Standard reader, and I agreed with a huge amount of the article when I first read it last month. In the past few years my most gut-clenching fear about having kids has been A) losing my entire life and identity in order to B) raise a narcissist.

And then I suddenly had the epiphany that it's not having kids per se that is actually freaking me out; it's the Special Snowflaking of America that I hate, and that I don't have to buy into. So the funny upshot of this article is that it helped make me feel less worried about getting knocked up.
posted by scody at 5:15 PM on July 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


a five- or six-year separation is doubtless not the best spacing between two kids growing up in the same household.

That has to be one of the stupidest things I've read in a very long time.

He backs that claim up with some rubbish about how they'll be at different stages of life, with a constant disjoint between primary school, high school, university & adult life.

Somehow, he misses the blatantly obvious fact that a 5yo or 6yo is already old enough to take some responsibility for a baby - playing nearby & watching over it, entertaining or soothing it, carrying it about the place. By the time the youngster is 2 or 3, the older sibling is even better placed to mind it, and this continues on until the young one reaches high school age & can be effectively independent.

In short, it's an absolutely *ideal* age gap, which allows parents to delegate childminding duties to the older sibling, taking pressure off themselves & killing two birds with one stone in the process.

I'd be very surprised if this wasn't explicit common knowledge amongst mothers at the time.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:24 PM on July 31, 2008 [2 favorites]



I think there is some truth to the idea that the middle class is raising kids who cannot deal with a second of boredom. For example, long car trips: they have videogames, children's CD's, movies, etc. Parents play with their kids and don't just let them hang out and then when other adults are around, they feel compelled to either put the kids in front of screens or organize some activity to entertain them.

Obviously, this tends to be a middle class phenomenon: Annette Lareau did a great sociological study comparing what she calls the "concerted cultivation" of the middle class parents with the "natural growth" child-rearing style of the poor.

She found that the poor kids had better ability to connect to other kids and navigate their social world without adult rules--but that the middle class were better equipped for career success, basically. [I'm oversimplifying dramatically].

Anyway, I think there's something lost when you cannot just hang out-- you need time to think and I don't know if these kids have enough. but who knows?
posted by Maias at 5:26 PM on July 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


a five- or six-year separation is doubtless not the best spacing between two kids growing up in the same household.

What? Who is he kidding? Has he ever met any siblings that are only a year or two apart? They spend the first fifteen years stealing each other's toys/books/clothes, tattling on each other, resenting each other, and otherwise fighting whenever possible. Maybe-and only maybe-when they no longer live in the same house will they be able to stand the other one.

On the other hand, siblings that are five or six years older don't tend to feel like they're constantly competing with the other kid, and tend to get along better. Plus, you can convince the older kid that helping to take care of the little sibling is fun, which makes it easier on everyone.

(yes, yes, I know there are exceptions to this, but generally-this is how it works)
posted by dinty_moore at 6:16 PM on July 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Crabby asshole or not, the term Kindergarchy perfectly sums up child rearing circa 2008. Here's the number of friends that I have that DON'T have a bunch of High School Musical CD's in the car - zero. It's important that the little dauphine never have to listen to something adult. How would the child dwell in the perfect amniotic fluid of constant entertainment if they had to listen to a baseball game or heaven forbid, political discourse while in the car.

I have a three-year-old, and I have no idea what High School Musical sounds like. (I'm actually not entirely clear what it is.) Mrs gompa and I decided we'd claw our eyes out if we had to listen to too much syrupy insipid shit, so we blanketed our girl with fun, catchy music we liked. We taught her to do something called "raise the roof," which involved pantomiming whacking the ceiling of the car like The Dude in The Big Lebowski when we played "Looking Out My Back Door," though somehow it migrated to the House of Pain song "Jump Around," which my daughter now calls "Raise the Roof" like it's the song title.

I mention this not necessarily to brag but mainly to give you another sort of data point, Keith Talent. And maybe to suggest that you can be deeply engaged with your child's development without it swallowing your selfhood whole. And also a little to brag.

She had a "Black Betty" phase and she's really into Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain" right now. She chose, outta pratically nowhere, a Hot Hot Heat tune and Joan Jett's "Bad Reputation" for her own personal playlist. And mrs gompa's added the Pet Shop Boys/Wiliie Nelson collaboration version of "Always on My Mind" to the mix, which she invariably sings along to. How proud is her music-geek dad?

So like this guy could bite my contemporary-engaged-parenting ass, if he wasn't so emotionally stunted by his own childhood to be intimidated by and aggressive toward such naked displays of emotion . . .

posted by gompa at 6:56 PM on July 31, 2008 [5 favorites]


What about the other kids, the ones that didn't cause trouble? Seems like you forgotten about them. Maybe this kid actually has some problem, did you think of that? Maybe that's why his parents let him be, because they know he isn't screwing around, that he cannot help it.

Your favorite anecdote sucks, I guess.


Come to think of it, he was the only kid there that night capable of being a nuisance. There are lots of other kids in the family but they were babies.
posted by autodidact at 7:00 PM on July 31, 2008


My children are 7 years apart and adore each other!! My daughter, being the eldest, helps me to care for her brother and does a fabulous job. He worships the ground she walks on and totally lights up when she comes in the room. The dynamics may change as they get older but this notion that 5 or 6 years is a terrible age gap is crap.

Also, I have lots of kids toys in my living room. So there!!
posted by pearlybob at 8:11 PM on July 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


y parents, my brother, and I, but we did not openly exhibit exuberant affection for one another. We did not hug, and I do not remember often kissing my mother or her kissing me. Neither my mother nor my father ever told me they loved me; nor did I tell them that I loved them...
The time was the 1960s and early 1970s. The culture was beginning to change radically. Lots of marriages were falling apart, my own among them. (After divorce, I had custody of my sons, who were then eight and six.)


His inability to see the connection between these two aspects of his life is evidence of the complete lack of insight and reflection pervading this essay. "The culture was changing..." Wow, all by itself, the culture just up and changed. "marriages were falling apart" Well, they didn't build them like they used to I guess.

He drones on endlessly about how parents overemphasize the importance of good schools begun early, and yet earlier in the article, he states "After the age of ten, I made every decision about my education on my own....That I was a thoroughly mediocre student seemed not much to bother them. Neither of my parents had gone to college, and my father never finished high school, moving to the United States and going off on his own at 17, and so they did not put great value in doing well at school." Somehow that's acceptable, because the author ended up a University prof. Good for him. What about all the other members of his generation whose parents likewise didn't concern themselves with their child education? Did they all become University profs? How many of them ended up working their entire lives at jobs that have all but vanished from this country?

This is what the author doesn't get - his vaunted generation completely screwed this country up. What generation ran the U.S. auto industry into the ground? What generation was the first to mortgage it's grandchildren's future, and which generation is still doing it.

Joe Epstein, your people blew it. You had it all and you lost it all, and now the millenials have to compete with 2.8 billion Chinese and Indians to get it back. Thanks, stupid.

I say this based on the fact that I note today many of the young, in late high-school or college years, suffer no shyness in putting forth their own opinions, observations, and usually less than penetrating insights.

God forbid they should express their opinions. You weren't shy in writing this article, Joe. You felt no compunction about sharing your opinions, why can't they?

I'll let you in on a little secret, Joe. The reason kids should be encouraged to share their less-than-penetrating insights with you is not because they are brilliant. They aren't.

It's because you are as dumb as they are.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:14 PM on July 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


Here's the number of friends that I have that DON'T have a bunch of High School Musical CD's in the car - zero.

You might want to rethink your choice of friends. My three year old loves "Smoke on the Water" and knows the lyrics by heart. One evening when my wife wasn't paying attention we ditched reading bedtime stories to scour YouTube for the best version and we agreed that Mk II in NYC, 1973 was the best we could find. There is not a "High School Musical" or "Hannah Montana" item in the house and there won't be for the foreseeable future.
posted by TedW at 8:31 PM on July 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Though the point of all these anecdotes, mainly that 6-13 year olds can be mighty annoying, has become clear, this article especially brings to mind a kid in my high school class (I'm about to graduate).

He says he's twelve, but he acts and looks like he could be 8. I suppose he is in high school now because he's "gifted," although that term gets thrown around way too much now a days. He reads a lot but is emotionally still very young, doesn't have much in the way of critical thinking skills at all, and really really belongs in middle school.

My class involves lots of field trips, and he is constantly wandering off, plainly ignoring the teacher in favor of anything he finds interesting, and is generally very annoying and a set back.

But where the line was drawn for me is when he actually started hitting the teacher at one point. How is that ever acceptable? I guess he thought it was cute or something, just like he thinks constantly asking the poor guy to buy him ice cream is cute, but hitting a full grown adult teacher with rolled up piece of paper, while he is asking you to stop? Even at 6 or 7 I would have been mortified to get caught doing that shit, especially in the middle of the Library of Congress.


RE: Overly special names
Rich white people have nothing on the name thing in my experience. I have known three girls named "Unique" (oh the irony) one named "Princess" etc., and I think that is way worse then Kelsey.
posted by Suparnova at 9:26 PM on July 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


late to the party, but I got cents...

The writer shouldn't be faulted for his narrow middle class viewpoint as he identifies his focus as being middle class throughout the piece.

As to the parents vs. the childless rift these kinds of threads precipitate: it must be said that not having children should not disqualify one from having a stake in children overall and how they are raised any more than not being a veteran disqualifies one from having an opinion on war. It really does take a village, and the extended family as opposed to the nuclear will include non-parents, not to mention the community at large the child will be growing up into. (Extended family and non-familial pan-generational interaction are aspects of traditional cultures that may be a contributing factor to what Kronos noticed in Europe.) My anecdotal evidence is having had positive nurturing adult role models and influences growing up who did not have children of their own...I'd say you don't have to be a parent to be parental, and to the childless stiffs who don't want to be bothered by kids - you might as well stay home as people tend to procreate.

Now about the folks whose kids rock out to the proper tunes: how about those parents who enable their precious progeny to literally rock, with guitars and amps and full on drum kits and often Dad on bass...damn, if there aren't a handful of 10 year old SRV's wanting stage time at every weekly jam session, mommy manager demanding an early slot because its a school night and damn if they aren't good! Ahhh, but have they learned about paying dues? They will, they will...and ol' man boney counsels: "Wait till you hit puberty, kid, THEN you can start singing the blues..."
posted by bonefish at 9:32 PM on July 31, 2008


Has he heard about people who have, like, three or even >gasp< four kids?
posted by Artw at 9:37 PM on July 31, 2008


My three year old loves "Smoke on the Water" and knows the lyrics by heart.

Heh. At that age, my favourites would've been The Beatles: Back in the USSR & the Stones: Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown. Oh, and anything by Woodie Guthrie.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:39 PM on July 31, 2008


<>

"So often in my literature classes students told me what they "felt" about a novel, or a particular character in a novel. I tried, ever so gently, to tell them that no one cared what they felt; the trick was to discover not one's feelings but what the author had put into the book, its moral weight and its resultant power."

This guy is a proponent of Authorial Intent? Fuck. That. Shit.
posted by queseyo at 9:41 PM on July 31, 2008


Ha, that was me cuing up "Looking Out My Back Door".

Doo doo doo...
posted by queseyo at 9:42 PM on July 31, 2008


I'm not a parent yet, but I do work with kids. And their parents.

I have seen plenty of the "over-parenting," but not enough to consider it a trend. When I taught pre-school, the amount of "under-parenting" I saw made me far, far more uncomfortable. I'm not talking neglect - I'm talking "Your four year old daughter wrote her full name for the first time and you stuff the paper in your purse and say 'we're going to be late to grandma's' and whisk the kid off without even acknowledging how proud she is or that she got a special sticker."

I don't know what kind of parent I'll be, but I had the kind of parents that both provided me with the BBC Narnia movies and Tom Waits, and I was pretty cool with that. Still am. I genuinely love a lot of things that are kid-centric, but fully intend on sharing grown-up movies and music and literature with my children.

With the kids I nanny, I do a lot of positive re-inforcement, not to make them feel like special snowflakes, but because as a behavioral strategy it's *more effective* than negative re-inforcement. Saying "you'll get a sticker if you behave on the train!" is a lot more compelling than "if you don't behave, something very rotten will happen."
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:44 PM on July 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


uncleozzy: ... in the upper-middle-class bubble with which he seems concerned.

...and there we have it, in a nutshell. Wake me when the teapot-tempest is over.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:52 PM on July 31, 2008


My Dad was raised in the 40s and his parents read to him and took him to parks, beaches, and museums. So did he with me, and so do I with my kids. In fact I have an old photo of my Grandfather camping out with his family at a young age.

Yes, parents can be overprotective--this is a trend I can definitely notice--just look at how few kids ride their bikes to school nowdays, though it has gotten so much attention I think the trend is starting to swing the other way. But giving kids too much attention? You mean like the Rockefellers, Kennedys, even back to the Adams families? Is he advocating workaholic parents with latchkey children, ignored by their parents? I'm simply astounded by this.

I have fun too. Having kids gives me a good excuse to do a lot more activities than I otherwise might if I were by myself. My kids eyes light up when I say "today we're going to do a scientific experiment" knowing that they are about to engage in something that may end up gross and bubbling, exploding (safely!), or flying around the park uncontrollably. But no, I shouldn't do that. I should ignore them and spend Saturday in the office. Yeah, that's good advice.
posted by eye of newt at 10:03 PM on July 31, 2008


And it is always fun to talk about trends in kids names even though it is completely irrelevant to anything except as one more thing for an old curmudgeon to complain about.

The other day I heard a parent calling her kid: "Galileo, come here. It is time to go."


Galileo???
posted by eye of newt at 10:07 PM on July 31, 2008


Better than Galliano.
posted by Artw at 10:11 PM on July 31, 2008


Better than Galliano.

Damn, now I have a strategy. A kind of goal, I guess, over-involved parent that I am. I invision me, on a chaise longue, several years from now . . . "Galliano!" I call. "Where you at? You an' Lime Cordial get your asses down here right away, you hear? And you bring Anejo and Grenadine with you, and you fix your papa a drink, all right? He's got an Eagles record he needs to listen to . . ."

*shuffles through summonses*

*decides surely they'll wait for another day*
posted by gompa at 1:19 AM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


People who think I'm spending too much time or attention on my kid oughtta spend a night listening to my freaking mother-in-law.
posted by newdaddy at 3:21 AM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


The writer shouldn't be faulted for his narrow middle class viewpoint as he identifies his focus as being middle class throughout the piece.

Ok, where was this? I mean, yeah, the upper middle class snobbery was clear throughout, but where did he say he was focusing on that because that was all he knew?* For me, his central point seemed to be that he knew everything because it had happened to him, and what was true for him was true for everyone.

*you know, actual humility. If I missed it, I seriously want to know.
posted by lysdexic at 3:29 AM on August 1, 2008


I want to make a t shirt that says "I don't have kids, but I still think you're a bad parent."
posted by shmegegge at 8:31 AM on August 1, 2008



Here's the number of friends that I have that DON'T have a bunch of High School Musical CD's in the car - zero.


Speaking of music. I don't have any kid CDs either. Not because I think kid music is necessarily bad. Kids like what they like. But I never had it (except Rafi) because I'm lazy and self-centered. I think we have Jazz for Kids now, but that's about it. On my five-year-old's birthday party this April we were playing musical chairs. My sister was running the CD player and called out, "You don't have any kid music." I kid you not an uncomfortable silence fell in the house. All of the other mothers probably thought I was a freak. I broke the silence and said, "I'll grab The Beatles or Bob Marley, they're kid appropriate." My youngest child knows many rock songs by heart, I think his favorite is Sweet Child of Mine.

My eldest kid (age seven) loves The Simpsons. I was reminding my husband the other day that The Simpsons isn't really appropriate for kids. My husband says half-jokingly, "I love that his favorite show is The Simpsons. It's proof of his sophisticated mind." Oh, Jesus.
posted by LoriFLA at 8:52 AM on August 1, 2008


I think this was a fantastic article. I don't agree with all of his conclusions, but it's worth a read - very well-written.

Some of my favorite passages below:

Under Kindergarchy, no effort on behalf of one's children's schooling is too extensive, no expense too great, no sacrifice in time and energy on the part of parents too exacting.

That indeed DOES seem like many people's attitude towards parenting - and why parenting can seem like such an overwhelming task to parents and childfree alike.

Despite what their parents had been telling them from the very outset of their lives, they were not significant. Significance has to be earned, and it is earned only through achievement. Besides, one of the first things that people who really are significant seem to know is that, in the grander scheme, they are themselves really quite insignificant.

We ALL need to know the lesson above.

I do think the author makes a mistake by conflating love with attention. Love is necessary - constant attention and tending to every detail of a child's life is not. A person can be significant to another person, in terms of their personal relationship - but there is a danger in telling a child they are so special that they get a sense they are MORE special than everyone else - I agree with him on that. We should be making children feel secure - but overall, I think that many children need more schooling in how to feel for OTHERS, not to focus on their own feelings so much.
posted by agregoli at 9:20 AM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Most fathers during this time, my guess is, must have felt the same."

I guess he figures that whatever was normal in his family was normal for all families, and whatever he did with his own kids is what every parent does with their own kids.

Hey, my kids attend classes, because I always wanted to but my parents couldn't afford it, and if they said they didn't want to go, they wouldn't have to go. My kids have musical instruments around the house, because I always wanted them but my parents couldn't afford it, and nobody's making them play 'em. If my kid's graduating from high school, I'll attend the ceremony because my parents didn't feel like driving that far that day. If I love my kids, I'm going to tell them, and I'm going to show them, because I felt unloved and lonely as a child because my parents were distant -- which is why my wedding picture with my wife's family shows all of us standing, touching, and laughing, and my wedding picture with my family has us all standing away from each other, not touching, not smiling.

But that's okay, because I spend more time insisting that they apologize for hitting other children, teaching them not to touch a hot stove, turning off the TV after fifteen minutes, telling them they can have more food when they're done eating what they have, or that we don't have any more, teaching them how to buckle themselves into their car seats, dress themselves, wait and be patient in line and when they try to interrupt someone else, and behave themselves in restaurants (and get taken outside if they raise their voice or otherwise misbehave) and to ask quietly and nicely for things instead of shouting "NOW" (and sometimes saying "no" even after they ask nicely.)

Some people grow up to give their children economic opportunities they didn't have, and I'm lucky enough to be able to give them economic opportunities and attention -- positive and negative -- that my parents wouldn't or couldn't give. When I do it, I'm sure it's good for them, but I'm also sure it's good for me, not because I think they couldn't survive without it -- obviously they could -- but because having children is ultimately a selfish act, and I'm selfish enough to want to give my children love and attention.

Just not all the time, which is why they're getting a babysitter for five hours this weekend so my wife and I can go see the new Batman movie and have a nice meal.
posted by davejay at 11:00 AM on August 1, 2008


Hearing people talk about playing real music for their kids is heartening and encouraging and makes me feel good inside. I think the idea of a kid rocking out to "19th Nervous Breakdown" is awesome and adorable and cute in every possible way.

Thanks for making me fear parenting that much less.
posted by Afroblanco at 5:35 PM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Joesph?! What kinda two-bit name is that. In my day people had real names, like Αχιλλευς, and Κιρκη! What are you, a cup of coffee? You're just average. A shmoe. Oooh, what, your fancy little dreamcoat isn't protecting you from mean ol' me? You're a GI, get over it!

Go back to Egypt, you hippie!
(So what if some of us have names you can't find in the bible? Is Old English too newfangled for you? -Kelsey.)
posted by Solon and Thanks at 7:06 PM on August 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hearing people talk about playing real music for their kids is heartening and encouraging and makes me feel good inside.

You could probably get great mileage from They Might be Giants.

*makes a little birdhouse in his soul*
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:45 PM on August 2, 2008


*makes a little birdhouse in his soul*

Ooooh! I was singing that to little Schmoopy this week when we were watching the birds at her birdfeeder!

Though I did change the words slightly to "after shooing Jason off" - I'm following in my mother's proud footsteps of changing all "children's" songs to have non-violent lyrics.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 4:06 PM on August 2, 2008


i know this is a pretty played thread, but someone should REALLY mention The little Girl and the Cigarette. Excellent satire about this subject, rather than a kinda crap screed.

I will add that, as the son of two special-ed teachers who have worked in both rich and poor areas, I believe that affluent parents give learning disabilities a bad name, and poor folks can't afford them for their kids.
posted by es_de_bah at 6:43 PM on August 2, 2008


also, presidents of the united states of America make excellent family car ride music.
posted by es_de_bah at 6:45 PM on August 2, 2008


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