It’s May 1972. I’m usually up before 7 and already outdoors. On weekends, I help my parents with the house chores, no matter what they are, although I’m only 8.
May 2016. The situation is completely different now, when I’m the parent. I always leave the house trying hard not to wake up my kids. Sometimes, I leave a note for them to do some chores and sometimes they do them. Usually, though, they just avoid the note.
What changed, exactly? When did parents start trying hard to make sure their children are happy or safe? Past generations haven’t wondered whether their children are satisfied.
When I was a kid, my parents dedicated their days to their work and didn’t look for advice about good parenting in books or on the Internet.
Back then, it was normal just to leave the house and play with the neighbour kid. It was also normal to help with the chores whenever you’re asked to.
Children today expect to get gifts without a special reason and they are used to get away with everything, it seems.
For some reason, the wheel has turned and if we used to obey our parents, now it’s the other way around. We used to wear clothes from older siblings, but our kids are not satisfied if they don’t have the latest fashion.
We spend more on their Halloween costumes than our parents did for our prom dress.
I don’t know what, but something caused this change in the last decades and we parents started pampering our children without even noticing. I’m as guilty as everyone.
I’ve been spending hundreds of dollars on games so that my child can have something to play on his iPad. I remember when I was a kid, we used to play with an old ball for months and we were satisfied with that.
Even the clothes we used to wear. We needed to beg for new sneakers if we wanted them. Often, we had to do more work than the usual to earn them. And we didn’t complain.Ever.
We were happy when we got what we wanted and we appreciated it. It’s so different now. I see all those expensive designer baby clothes and wonder what has changed?
We grew up without wearing expensive clothes because our parents were saving for our education and for a better future.
We grew up obeying our parents and doing what we were being told. We didn’t question them when they told us to wash the car or clean the room. We didn’t argue with them when they woke up on Saturdays to help them with the groceries.
Still, nobody was worried whether we were tired or unhappy. Our parents had a lot more things to worry about instead of our thoughts about doing the chores. Nonetheless, that made us grow and made us more independent.
As teenagers, we didn’t bother our parents when we had problems with a friend or school subject. Instead, we knew that we had to solve it ourselves. Teachers didn’t call our parents to suggest them to speak to us for a bad grade.
No, they worked directly with us and we knew that we got the bad grade because we didn’t study and that’s was okay. We knew and our parents knew that if we get bad grades, we are the only ones to blame.
High school wasn’t only about getting good grades, either. We were working to earn extra money. Some of us even managed to buy cars from their part-time jobs. How many teenagers today can study and work to earn money for their own car?
Not only that. The cars that we were driving were old and bad! No modern adolescent would drive the cars that we had. I remember once asking complete strangers to help me push my car that had stopped.
Often, I didn’t even have money for gas, so I didn’t drive the old thing for a week or more. Compared to that, our kids today are not happy even when they’re driving cars that adults have worked for years to buy.
Our kids today don’t know that we cherish most those memories. I always tell them the stories about the numerous “bad” events that happened to me during my childhood and they laugh.
Stories like those are interesting to them, but I think they can not completely appreciate them since they haven’t had similar experiences. Most of the kids today will graduate from high school without any work experience and without the courage to be independent.
Today’s kids are as smart as we have been and we as parents want to see them satisfied and fulfilled. But what will their future look like? Will they manage to succeed on their own and be good parents for their children?
The experiences we have robbed them of as children whenever we have feared their safety have influenced us and have played a huge role in our growth as individuals.
The lessons we have learned from the work we have been asked to do are priceless. When we’re not letting our kids work because we want them to be happy and healthy maybe we are just making them dependant of us.
We don’t teach our kids to work hard for something they want. Instead, we decide to make things easier for them and just help them achieve anything they want. But giving them stuff is not the same with earning the same stuff. That way, they can’t appreciate the real value of the stuff.
Similarly, we had to solve our problems ourselves, but our children have their problems solved by someone else. They expect someone else to solve everything for them.
If we worked and were independent, our children feel safer with us supporting them just because it’s easier and they’re used to it.
If we made million mistakes in our childhood while we were trying new things and working after school, our kids don’t even have the chance to learn from mistaking because we don’t let them take the risk of making a mistake.
When we help them with something and don’t let them make a mistake, we prevent them from learning and growing.
If we had to manage our time between school, work, house chores and social life, our kids are used to having enough free time to watch TV shows and procrastinate. Being proactive is challenging, but also motivating.
You might not agree with these things and you might even call me names now, but don’t forget that I am a parent just as you are. My children are not so spoiled as their friends, but I can see these changes in them.
For sure, our parents made mistakes when they were raising us, but we need to realize that maybe we make different mistakes. And that maybe the mistakes we make will have greater consequences that we are aware of.
This generation of parents is health-aware and educated and that’s great. But it’s a fact that many kids today grow up without playing with their peers and prefer staying in front of the TV instead of being active and doing something that will teach them life skills.
People remember and learn from the experiences they had and the feelings that those experiences created in them, not the things they saw on the Internet.We need to ask ourselves what we’re doing wrong and put an effort to improve the things we can.