Tim Taylor, a psychologist and child development specialist, had an interesting post in the San Francisco Chronicle the other day, wondering if it’s in the best interests of kids for parents to raise their own children.
I don’t think he was being tongue-in-cheek, but was really rehashing all the crap parents foist upon their children, often in the interests of improving their own lives (the parents’) above the kid’ interests. Tiger Moms, French-crazed parenting, personal baggage and too much free time and money to muck around, Taylor lists many reasons for why parents have gone crazy.
“Increased affluence, disposable income, and free time have given many parents the freedom to turn their children into products to mold, projects to finish, and trophies to burnish. All of that free time, and not enough meaning or satisfaction in their own lives, has caused many parents to become so overly invested in their children that their self-esteem becomes based on their children’s achievements. Imagine what it’s like for children when how they perform in, for example, school or sports, will determine how happy their parents are (and whether their parents will love them). Talk about pressure!”
I don’t agree with his conclusion, that paid experts such as teachers or coaches could do a better job of dealing with kids because they come at them with a detached, professional point of view, but I do agree with the logic that parents can definitely mess up a kid by trying to relive or improve their own childhoods at the expense of children. In fact, the whole “baggage” argument he raises reminds me of the opening verse from one of my favorite Philip Larkin poems.
They f&@! you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to, but they do. They fill you with the faults they had And add some extra, just for you.
Photo: Funny Threat