I've heard alot lately on the subject of how our generation is raising kids to be. I've heard radio disc jockeys and bloggers comment on summers for kids 30 years ago versus summers now. I've read books on how we are raising kids to be dependent on parents for almost everything- making dinner, entertainment, helping clean. I guess since today is the first day of summer vacation, it's been mentioned by several people how kids 30 years ago had an entire summer of nothing to do, how they had to use their creativity to spend their spare time during summer, and now kids' entire summer is planned down to the minute with camps, daycare, trips to the zoo or water park, play dates, VBS, etc. It seems as though kids have no real responsibility anymore. We plan their days for them, giving them no autonomy to decide how they will spend their own time. We plan their dinners. We plan their weekends. We help plan their outfits. We put tons of apps on our iPads so they will never be bored. I would like to think I am not raising kids to be like this, but I am starting to think that I am.
On the topic of summer, I completely understand why that's shifted over the years. Kids' mothers used to all stay at home. There wasn't a need to find a place for them to go 40 hours a week while both parents are at the office. We don't trust kids to be at home alone or out getting into mischief, which is completely understandable. But back then, I think kids were much more able to do things for themselves. Now, I am not so sure. What age DO you start letting kids spend all day in the house, alone? My stepson is 11 and I still don't think I'd feel comfortable with it. I am not sure at what age I was staying home without my parents, but I also had parents who were in education, so the topic of what to do with us for three months during summer wasn't an issue. I will say, my mom would take us to Wet-n-Wild amost every day during the summer and allow us to take off and ride whatever we wanted and swim wherever we wanted, and only checked in with her a few times in a whole 8-10 hour swim day. I don't know that I would be OK with that now. So, has society and our fear of strangers and allowing kids independence forced us into having dependent children? Has our fear that they might burn the house down or go with someone they shouldn't crippled us and our children as well? Are their really more child predators now then there were 30 years ago, or do we just hear about it more because of the internet and social media?
It makes me sad for the kids of our generation. I really feel like it's not intentional on our part (the parents) it's just the world we are living in. Kids can't entertain themselves with an electronic device in from of them. My kids are always wanting us to play with them. Constantly, actually. When we had our trampoline, they wouldn't jump on it unless Jason or I were out there with them, making up games for them to play. (No offense Mom or Dad) but we didn't want to spend our afternoons or weekends playing with our parents. Is it that they can't think of any games to play with each other? That they don't have an app in front of them, telling them what to do? I really don't know. But it makes me worried.
It isn't just the idea of being dependent on parents for entertainment, but for everything else, as well. When was the last time that your 11 year old cleaned the bathroom, including the showers and toilets, with actual cleaner and a sponge? When was the last time that your 3rd grader made the family dinner, from start to finish, including setting the table and doing the dishes afterwards? If yours does it regularly, it's amazing. I can (ashamedly) say ours have NEVER done that. Is it their fault, then, that they don't understand the value of responsibility and independence? Is it their fault that are are completely dependent on us? Is it their fault that they feel entitled, when they are constantly given treats in the form of electronic devices but aren't expected to do anything to earn them? And now, they are giving kids iPads for school. Jordan (and Sophia when she is old enough) will be given an iPad to use starting from 6th grade to graduation. Does he have to pay for that? Nope. It's just going to be given to him. I struggle with that, so much. But, it's the world we live in!
I expect my kids to be respectful, contributing members of society, but do I expect them to be respectful, contributing members of my household? Probably not as much as I should. Well, there isn't a "probably." I don't. It's my goal this summer to give them responsibilities. I hope I can, anyway.
What about you - do you feel like this, as well? Or it is just me?