The stats are in. My generation really stinks at parenting.
We have no more fingers left to point. No more theories to back up our parenting styles. Statistics — from the CDC, the National Institute of Health, the journal “Pediatrics” and the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry — prove it.
I already hear all of your “buts.” I had them, too. But no amount of them can save us from the facts. Something is wrong, scary, and it’s mostly our fault.
Our children are being raised in increasingly unhealthy environments, said Victoria Prooday, a psychotherapist and founder and clinical director of a multidisciplinary clinic. She refutes most of our favorite excuses by saying, “No, ‘They all are just born like this’ is not the answer! No, ‘It is all the school system’s fault’ is not the answer! Yes, as painful as it can be to admit, in many cases, WE, parents, are the answer to many of our kids’ struggles!”
She’s giving us a bitter pill to swallow that’s good for us in the end. And to be clear, she is not talking about children born with disabilities.
She’s talking to a mom like me, who can be so entranced in my Facebook feed that I don’t notice the sweet voice of my baby asking me to read her a book. Or my overwhelming desire to let them eat an entire bag of Dum Dums just so I can take my sweet time in Target’s Home Decor section without a tantrum.
And it’s not just me: Several viral Facebook rants from teachers explain why teachers are leaving the profession in droves. Even though children’s behavior has regressed and an overall lack of respect has increased exponentially, those things aren’t really the No. 1 problem. It’s the parents, teachers say. Our kids are spoiled, wild animals who don’t respect authority, teachers say.
Whenever teachers attempt to provide structure or discipline to help children cope, we parents ride in on white horses to save our babies from the awful realities of not being naughty.
We’ve gone soft. We’re consequence adverse. We’re digitally distracted. We let kids rule, stay up late and Netflix binge on cartoons while we’re on our hands and knees picking up their Legos.
And the worst of all sins: We’ve taken it upon ourselves to be our child’s 24/7 party planners. What’s up with my generation? What happened to create such a pivot in parenting styles?
Her response was simple: the Internet, y’all.
As our beady eyes lit up during AOL’s first ear-piercing dial-up as teens, we were the first generation to get our information from strangers off the Internet rather than from our elders, teachers and trusted advisers.
What could possibly go wrong with that?
Maybe what’s happening to our children is the warning we all need to pivot from over-consuming information and to start seeking precious wisdom.
I’m hopeful because we love our kids desperately. We want them to experience all life has to offer. We want to protect them from harm and guide them to happiness. And we’re raising kids during a tech era no one really knows how to navigate. So we’re going to make mistakes, but we’re open to learning.
Yes, our children are suffering in record numbers. This is our chance to wake up and do something about it.
This isn’t hard stuff. We can do this.
The Bible says humility is the path to greatness, and I agree. We have to acknowledge that we aren’t perfect and our kids aren’t either, but we love them unconditionally and we’re willing to learn.
Maybe it’s time to go back to the original Google search — our elders. Sure, they might have been a little off with the “Go get your own switch” stuff, but they have golden nuggets of wisdom that can enrich our lives and give us the courage to parent with our own compass and convictions.
And if all of this evidence isn’t enough to convince you — consider this: If all the teachers quit on us, we’ll have to homeschool. If that doesn’t spring all of us into action, I don’t know what will.