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12 Reasons Our Kids Will End Up in Therapy

Building off my last post — 10 Possible Parenting Mistakes Made in the ’90s — let’s look to the future, shall we? Can we predict what our big failures will be?

Let’s be honest: every generation has unique mistakes that we can look back on and criticize. Boomers were spanked and shunned, Gen-Xers were latch-key kids from broken homes, Millennials were coddled by helicopter parents, etc. But how will our current culture/parenting tactics screw up Generation Z (or whatever the heck we’ll eventually label them)?

As I mentioned, I am a Millennial Mom — part of the next generation of parents to rise up the ranks. We were raised in the Digital Age, pioneering the Internet and social media and cell phones during our most formative years. So that’s the perspective I’m viewing the world with — which, to be fair, might not be that different than the Gen-Xers who are raising kids right alongside us.

We’ll probably put our kids in therapy for the same exact reasons.

Here are 12 predictions in how we’re all screwing up modern kids:

  • 12 Ways We Might Fail as Parents 1 of 14
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    What will our kids look back on and say, "I'll never parent like that with my kids!" Like any well-meaning generation of parents, what will the future experts condemn us for doing?

     

    Your guess is as good as mine. So for what it's worth, here are mine...

  • Ignored By Screens 2 of 14
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    Remember how annoying it was when our parents were on the phone (which was attached to a wall — ahem) or talking to another adult and they totally ignored our requests/attention-getting schemes? Now imagine those distractions x 100 — always in their pockets or their hands or in front of their faces. Wouldn't that have just been the absolute worst?

     

    But we're all doing it. I remember reading an essay on Babble a few years back, where the author's kid said to his Blackberry-consumed mother, "You look at that thing more than you look at my face." Gut punch. There are more and more calls for parents to put down their phones and disconnect when the kids are around (The Hands Free Mama is the perfect example), but it's hard. If I were a betting woman, I'd put money on how our faces-buried-in-screens will emotionally damage our kids. Not to mention the more they see us doing it, the more they're likely to follow suit. 

     

    Photo: Instagram/@earlymama

  • Overstimulated with an Unrealistic Environment 3 of 14
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    Imagine being born into a world where screens are everywhere. And not screens with grainy pictures or primitive graphics — I'm talking about crystal-clear HD that's crisper than real life — crisper than nature! I'm talking about 3-D television that is normal and expected. When the world around them pales in comparison to the bright, crisp, colorful screens, does it dull the awe-inspiring quality of the world?

     

    Photo: Instagram/@earlymama

  • Documented from Birth 4 of 14
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    There's been a lot of discussion about this topic, but it's a topic worth discussing. Our parents might have over-praised us, and their parents might have over-disciplined them, but we're totally over-documenting our kids.

     

    How will our kids feel when their poop-related stories are forever recorded, their baby images are widely shared, and  they've had an online presence since the time they were fetuses? How will it affect them in school, and in work, and in their own minds? We talk about Millennials being narcissistic? Just wait until the blogged-about babies grow up, knowing that their stages and milestones have been celebrated their entire lives like some pseudo-celebrities. 

     

    Photo: Instagram/@earlymama

  • Styled and Filtered Instagram Photos 5 of 14
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    When so much of our childhood memories are stitched together with photos and home videos, how will the abundance of iPhone photos and videos affect our children's memories? Will it help them retain more memories from childhood? Or will the styled and filtered photos create an unrealistic expectation of life and parenthood?

     

    Photo: Instagram/@earlymama

  • Distractions and Overwhelming Information 6 of 14
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    Are our brains even equipped to handle the extreme bombardment of stimuli in today's world? Considering the rise of ADHD, anxiety, and sensory disorders, my gut instinct says no. 

     

    Then again, it's hard to tell. Some scientists argue that distractions are actually improving our brain functions. New York Magazine reported that "digital natives" actually have unique skills "like [conducting] 34 conversations simultaneously across six different media, or [paying] attention to switching between attentional targets in a way that's been considered impossible." They cite neuroplasticity — the brain's ability to change based on experience — as the reason why the next generation's brains might deal with information more efficiently than ever before. 

     

    Are distractions a benefit or an illness? Only time will tell.

     

    Photo: Instagram/@earlymama

  • Is Narcissism Contagious? 7 of 14
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    When I was in high school, my friends were listing out their daily to-dos and whereabouts on AOL Instant Messenger as if the world really cared, and then moved on to Myspace and Facebook in college — where status updates reflected their innermost thoughts or most mundane activities. Of course this is now the norm, but it was pretty much contained to our generation back then.

     

    So the rise in narcissism certainly isn't surprising. I watched it escalate.

     

    But we're not "kids being kids" anymore — with our youthful self-obsession and trendy social media. We're parents and teachers and grown adults. So what kind of message are we passing down to our kids, with our selfies and tweets and celebrity culture obsession? 

     

    Photo: Instagram/@earlymama

  • Perfecting Parenting 8 of 14
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    Here's a biggie. Modern parents are living in an Age of Information that's completely unprecedented. And access to information + our child-centered parenting philosophy = the reason why sites like Babble.com + all of our "mom blogs" are incredibly popular. Yes, we have a bigger community and more support which is absolutely wonderful. But the flip-side of that coin is our constant striving to perfect parenting — or even the belief that we could find the perfect way to parent.

     

    That's why we buy self-help books on parenting, ignite "mom wars" about superior philosophies, and analyze studies like a bunch of professional worry-warts. Is some of it helpful? Absolutely. But jumping from one tactic to the next undermines our intuition, lacks authenticity, and — maybe most importantly — lacks consistency.

     

    Photo: Instagram/@earlymama

  • Keeping Up with the Blogosphere 9 of 14
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    Families were once concerned about "keeping up with the Joneses" — but now we have so much more to keep up with than a few nosy neighbors. We're inviting strangers into our homes via Instagram, friends into our parenting tactics via Facebook, and then comparing ourselves to the perfectly polished families on Pinterest and in the blogosphere. 

     

    It can put a lot of pressure on us as parents — which our kids can probably see and feel — and it can make us feel inadequate. If we're constantly worried about styling photos, dressing up our toddlers in "Pin-able" outfits, and keeping a blog-worthy home, it can take away from the actual experiences. Parenting from a place of anxiety/fear/competition sounds like a terrible idea.

     

    Photo: Instagram/@earlymama

  • Communication Problems/Empathy 10 of 14
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    It's been widely reported that empathy scores have dropped and narcissism scores have risen for the Millennial generation — presumably due to things like less face-to-face contact and more people telling us how awesome/cool/pretty/better we are (whether it's helicopter parents or social media "friends" and "followers").

     

    How will this translate to kids born into a world with these communication norms firmly established? It's easy to say that parents need to emphasize face-to-face contact and traditional social interaction over behind-the-screen chatting, but things get muddier when you consider that we — as the newest generation of PARENTS — have our own Internet addictions and texting obsessions that are more ingrained in us than older generations.

    Photo: Instagram/@earlymama

  • Lack of Privacy 11 of 14
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    The whole spying-on-kids debate was just getting revved up when I was a kid (we had helicopter parents, remember?), but OH MY GOD the technological advancements since then. By the time my son is in high school, I can only imagine the tracking devices and spying methods we'll come up with.

     

    Even if we, as parents, decide to ease off spying on our kids, that doesn't mean the rest of the world will. I don't mean to come off as a conspiracy theorist here, but it's no secret that our every move and message can be recorded and filed on the Internet. The simple concept of having a "digital footprint" is new and crazy. On the one hand, there's more accountability. On the other hand, I'd really hate to be those kids.

     

    Photo: Instagram/@earlymama

  • Be UNIQUE! 12 of 14
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    We can all pretty much agree that telling an entire generation of kids "YOU'RE SPECIAL!" had some unforseen drawbacks in the self-esteem department. But are modern parents replacing "You're Special!" with "Be Unique!"?

     

    We're all about personalization, unique baby names, one-of-a-kind handmade products, etc. I can't come up with any solid theories on how it'll damage our kids, but the potential is definitely there.

     

    Photo: Instagram/@earlymama

  • Repeating Boomer Mistakes 13 of 14
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    All of the "mistakes" that Boomers made raising kids — handing out trophies for participation, over-praising kids, instilling unrealistic fantasies about our futures —  can be perpetuated by Millennial parents. If we're not mindful of how we were raised and why certain things screwed us up, we're likely to repeat the same cycle. 

     

    Photo: Instagram/@earlymama

  • What Do You Think? 14 of 14
    new-world

    Will our education system prove itself to be outdated and damaging? Are we robbing our children from an unbiased digital adulthood with our oversharing? Will yelling be considered as abusive as hitting? Are we feeding our children some undiscovered chemical that'll take the place of BPA and trans fat?

     

    WHAT WILL IT BE? Because, looking at history as an example, there's always something.

     

    Photo: Instagram/@earlymama

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