Friday, February 21, 2014

Putting Pressure on Teenagers



On a Facebook page that I follow a question was recently posted on 'giving some ideas for teenage boys to romantically ask their dates to the prom'. This kind of stuff makes me flip out. I wonder how many boys out there really want to find out a romantic way to ask a girl to the prom. Most of them don't even want to find an un-romantic way to ask. They are scared to death to ask. They hope the girl will ask them. And take away all that fear of rejection.

This got me to thinking about who is it that is putting so much pressure on teenagers today. I read a lot in the media about this being the generation of kids that are so stressed. I recently read somewhere that parenting is the most competitive adult sport in today's world. Wow! That says it all right there. It is the parents who are pushing kids so hard that they have such stress in their lives. I think back to when I was raising my own sons and it was a "keep up with the Joneses generation", but it was nothing compared to today.

I have heard that it is called hyper-parenting. Kids are just not allowed to be kids. It starts when they are very, very young. At birth parents start to worry about what pre-school their child is going to get into. For crying out loud, it is pre-school; not college. But it seems to matter. And I know of parents who send their children at the age of 3 (whether they can really afford it or not) so the kid goes to 2-3 years of pre-
school before they ever enroll them in kindergarten. Why is it that a child needs to know how to read at age 4? If they learn at 6, they will still know how to read for a lot of years before they die. Who is the parent really concerned about at this age. Their child? I think not. I think they are much more concerned about how they will look in front of the other parents in their circle.

And now we can talk about sports. Little, tiny basketball and soccer players who are being pushed by their parents. They have barely learned how to walk, let alone learned and know the rules of sports games. I sincerely doubt that any of these tykes asked their parents to 'please, pretty please sign me up for basketball.' And then there are those parents who sign their kids up for private lessons in soccer, wrestling, basketball, etc. Seriously? Have we really lost the ability to let our kids just get out there and play. And figure it out for themselves. Have you attended any middle-school or high school sporting events where the parents coach from the side-lines? It is sad to watch. I feel for the child whose mom or dad is constantly screaming at them on how to play the game. The child seems so confused on whether to listen to their parents  or the coach. Often times the coach has told them to do something else. And there is always the 'ball-hog', who is not a team player, because mom or dad want him to be the star of the team. Parents work tirelessly to promote their kid in a sport their kids might not even want to play.

I have heard parents talking around me, as I sit in the stands watching a grandchild play at a sport, (of their choosing, because for the most part I don't even like to attend these events) worrying and talking about what college their child will go to. What the child will be when they grow up. Who is the best guy for a boyfriend! Are you kidding me? Let the kids figure this out. When my granddaughters were in elementary school there was a teacher's aid, who had a son their age, and she made it her job to try to get them to be her son's girlfriend. That is a bit over involved don't you think? I happen to be one of those old-fashioned ladies who believes kids in grade school (or even middle-school, for that matter) should NOT be 'dating'. Period! Plenty of time for finding Mr. Or Miss Right much later down the road. Let them be kids!!

Parents, stop pushing your child to be what you want them to be. Encourage them, yes. Help them make decisions that are the best decisions for them, yes. But otherwise stay out of their business. Don't be a hyper-parent. Don't be pushy. Quit putting so much stress on your kids. A's and B's are great grades. Hell, even a C is considered average. What is wrong with having an average child? Of course you can encourage them to do better, if they are capable, but screaming at them because they got a B!! That is a bit over the top. 

You don't want to be the reason they are some day, laying on the therapist couch, trying to work through why "they just don't feel they are good enough."

*as a footnote....to anyone reading this who thinks I am one of those parents, I am working on getting past all of this myself.

20 comments:

  1. And I will say it again, this is why grandparents parent better than parents....we have been there, done that and learned from our mistakes....Unfortunately humankind being what it is we only (sometimes) learn from our own mistakes but never seem to learn from other's mistakes.

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    1. Isn't that the truth! Probably a fact that will never change. But it sure puts a lot of stress on THIS grandparent who is trying to explain to my grandchildren (the girl more so than the boy) why we aren't going to do things the way all of her friend's parents do them.

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  2. We call the hovering parents "Helicopter Parents" and they drive most teachers nuts.

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    1. That is a good term. I bet they do drive teachers nuts!

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  3. Paula, there are so many things I love about this. First of all, I laughed through the beginning. My 19 year old seems to be just now getting comfortable about asking girls out. I love that my 16 year old son and my nieces and nephews are enjoying their childhood.

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    1. Thank you Flora. I just think I needed to get it off my chest. I think so many parents put so much pressure on their kids just for their own agenda

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  4. It's good to read this - my husband and I worry that we aren't pushy enough, that somehow the kids will suffer because they will be the only non-violin-playing, 90-mph-fast-ball-pitching, beauty-pageant-winning kids in their schools. We let them watch tv (but are so much stricter than their friends families), we let them drink soda sometimes and eat fast food and we let them not sign up for everything and we are so proud of them every day. Great reminder!

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    1. Beautiful. I feel exactly the same way. My grandkids (who live with us) also watch TV, play video games, drink soda and eat candy. We let them pick ONE thing they want to be involved in. Then they have their church night, which is not a choice at this time in their lives. Our grandson is also a Scout because he loves camping and his Papa can't take him. I am proud of them and with just one activity apiece they are TOO busy!

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  5. I think the worst thing we can do as parents is to over schedule our kids into this activity and that activity; they have no time just to stop and smell the roses so to speak. Hubby is a guitar teacher and it is amazing with his students how much more they are involved with, soccer, karate, dance, gymnastics, guitar. And it is no surprise those who are super involved with things rarely have time to practice guitar. Good thoughts.

    betty

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    1. And it is also not surprising that they burnout before they ever make it all the way through college because their parents are pushing, pushing, pushing! Thanks for commenting Betty.

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  6. You're so right. I think a lot of parents enroll their kids in all sorts of activities as a status symbol. Even my own niece, who is a year younger than I am, was telling me how her FOUR-YEAR-OLD is taking computer classes and French. Seriously? I prefer to let my kids be kids and explore the world as THEY want to.

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    1. Oh goodness French and computer at 4??

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  7. What a great post. Good discussion in the comment section, too, Yea for everyone who is trying to do what's right for the kids in their care, I LOVED the 'helicopter parents' label. Had not heard that one before. I am raising my granddaughter. I put her in basketball a long time ago. It was a two week experience because I saw potential for fun and skill, but if she had not loved it, I would have asked her to finish the two week, but not suggested it again. She has been playing since then . . . up until this year because of a surgery unrelated to sports. But she needs time to chill, so there has to be some of that too. About the romantic way to ask someone to prom? Heck no. Let 'em stumble or be casual if they're going to ask at all. The romantic question will be too hard to turn down if the person asked doesn't want to go and it can put expectations on the event that are not necessarily appropriate.

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    1. My thoughts exactly. It's only the prom, right!

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  8. Great article, and it makes me grateful not to be a parent. I'm so glad my parents didn't push me to be super-involved with activities. I would have gone nuts. Helicopter-parents are so infuriating, I don't know how most teachers put up with it. I'm on the opposite end of that spectrum. I am a teacher assistant at a school that serves behavioral kids, and many of the parents could not be less involved.

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    1. Those are the parents that should be paying more attention to their kids too!

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  9. All the lessons my daughter takes is because she asks for them. Heck, she doesn't even do anything with the piano and voice lessons but she loves them. Her cello lessons were because she wanted to get into an honor orchestra (because of a boy). She made the orchestra and stopped liking the boy. I don't consider myself a hyper-parent. All of my kid's talents are her own. I am just very blessed that she is smart and never needs help with her homework (the two occasions she did, I had to google how to help her). We tried the sports thing, yeah, not my kid's thing. We did the girl scouts thing, as soon as she wanted to quit, we both quit. Boys - thank goodness she is not crazy about them yet. She likes a couple, but she is not interested in having a boyfriend. My kid either wants to be an actress or a scientist and we will encourage her to be what ever she wants to be. I have a friend who keeps trying to force her kid into cheerleading just so she can be 'that mom'. The only thing I really hyper-parent on is the online issue about giving information to other kids (or who you think are kids) that they don't really need to know. My kid has her own goals, she doesn't need mine to compete with that. Like I told my husband the other day; I don't want to live through my kid, if there is something I want to do, I am going to go out and do it myself.

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    1. It is really hard to find that line and stay on this side of it, isn't it Cristy! Your daughter sounds just fine to me! Well balanced and certainly well loved!

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    2. Yes, it is. Sometimes I find myself wanting to toe the line, and I have to remember this is her life and I just want to be a part of it.

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    3. The hardest part for me has always been..."I know how to help you avoid heartache or problems. I have been there and done that." But they have to learn the hard way sometimes just for the lesson

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