According to Psychology Today, “The average high school kid has the same anxiety level of the average psychiatric patient of the early 1950s”. I just can’t stop thinking about this. As parents we all want the best for our kids but is what we’re doing working if our kids have this much stress and anxiety? There have always been shifts in parenting styles. Each generation wants to correct the perceived “wrongs” from how they were parented and it seems like we are at a crucial point of correction…the pendulum in my estimation swung way too far from how we were parented.
If anxiety is looking forward…what does this say about our generation’s parenting style? Have we modeled adult lives that look appealing? Are the daunting questions of our day too much for our kids—the environment, money, health, authenticity, meaning and relevance?
I grew up in a small town in South Dakota in the 1970s and 80s. I could drive at fourteen. I started working summer jobs at the age of eleven. I had a lot of independence. My husband and I both grew up in small towns and we had young parents. I think it had a big impact on our parenting choices. We wanted to do some things “old school” and not get caught in the trappings of our generation. However, this is really challenging.
I have made lots and lots of parenting mistakes (as my teenagers will happily discuss with anyone). However, there is a big difference between how we parented our son who is 4.3 years older than his twin sisters. We hovered more. We took care of things and pushed about homework, often at the detriment of family life and the harmony of our home. Sorry Ellis. We chose not to do this to our girls (at least not as much) and thankfully even in a four year time span there is a lot more being studied about: too much homework, the need for more downtime, the opportunity to daydream, decompress and relax.
I want my children happy AND I believe in pushing them to develop new skills.
It’s those COMPETING COMMITMENTS that trip me up constantly.
I don’t think these things have to be mutually exclusive.
I want to be attentive to the way I push my kids.
Am I encouraging my kids to do things that make me look good? YIKES!
Our world needs innovation, kindness, generosity & curiosity.
How do we nurture those skills in a hyper-virtual connectedness, competitive, highly structured environment?
It can be done.
We just have to get creative.