A couple weeks ago the French parenting style was all the rage. In fact, I wrote an article about it right here on Strollerderby. The gist? American parents cater to their childrens’ every whim while their French choose not to pander to children.
Now, a new study confirms the suspicion that American parents are centering their lives around their children and in doing so may even be turning them into brats.
According to Jezebel, “anthropologists who’ve been studying the U.S. middle class for the past decade have confirmed…American kids are self-obsessed brats, and it’s all their parents’ faults.”
Ten years ago, a team of UCLA sociologists, psychologists, and archeologists chose 32 Southern Californian families — all homeowners with two or three kids — and recorded video footage of them for a week straight, Real World style. After analyzing their behavior, the group determined that the American middle class is extremely child-centered compared to other cultures around the globe. In the U.S., parents will kneel at their childrens’ feet and repeatedly tie and un-tie their shoes if they deign to say the word, “please,” while on the other side of the world, children serve food to their elders and help chop wood for fires. American middle-class kids are rarely expected to substantially contribute to the household, and when they’re actually asked to do chores, it’s proposed as a favor (“Please, Billy, would you mind setting the table?”) with negotiations or compromises sure to follow.
As Jezebel points out, the sad irony is that American parents want so badly to have well-behaved children, which is why they pay so much attention to them, when, in fact, all that attention is creating self-entitled little monsters. A quick glance at the Wall Street Journal article Jezebel cites has me freaking. I am totally the middle-class parent described.
Asking children to do a task led to much negotiation, and when parents asked, it sounded often like they were asking a favor, not making a demand, researchers said. Parents interviewed about their behavior said it was often too much trouble to ask.
All too familiar! Am I raising brats? Do I need to draw a hard line in the sand and give my kids The Business when they don’t do as I say? Does this relenting, negotiating parenting style ring any bells for you? Do you think we’re ruining our kids?