13 July 2012

Are We Abandoning Our Kids By Over-Programming Them?

This is a blurb from this blog post on The White Horse Inn.  It details some things of import to parents, and notes some bad parenting skill of which I have been guilty in the past.  It is a very interesting read. I think more parents are becoming aware of this problem, though not many of us have a lot of great ideas about how to fix it yet.  Most of us roll with the punches, learning as we go.

One thing I will say: God is sovereign even in this learning process.  While we may not want to repeat some of the mistakes we've made, we also feel grateful to have had the experiences and been able to learn from them.  Perhaps it will work out like many things did in our own (parents) lives- they'll make sure they don't make the same mistakes we (their parents) made, just like we made sure we didn't make the same mistakes our parents made.  In the process, we learn a whole new set of mistakes to make.  How's that for irony?  Anyway, here's the blurb.  Read the whole thing at the link above.

Chap Clark, in his book Hurt, affirms this trend but chooses to use the term “the abandoned child.” He writes, “We have evolved to the point where we believe driving is support, being active is love, and providing any and every opportunity is selfless nurture … Even with the best of intentions, the way we raise, train, and even parent our children today exhibits attitudes and behaviors that are simply subtle forms of parental abandonment.“[1]

Certainly people can evaluate accurately this issue from various angles (psychology, sociology, education, etc.). From a theological position, this parenting style reflects the natural result of life lived intensely under the law. When I mention law in this context, I do not refer to the moral code but to a pattern of life focused on living up to standards through personal performance and effort. A standard of false righteousness- child competence – exists in the culture, and adults employ whatever necessary means (math tutors, batting coaches, personal trainers, academic camps, intense schedules, etc.) to maximize their child’s performance that they may satisfy the expectations.

Researchers have committed much study to the trend of abandonment in teen culture.  The literature has identified an intense sense of disconnection and isolation among teens in their family and community systems.  While researchers consider high-rates of divorce and general family dysfunction as contributing factors, the primary variable among teens with symptoms of abandonment is over-programming and performance-based lifestyles.
[1] Chap Clark, Hurt (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004), 46-47.

1 comment:

  1. This article addressed something that I've really been struggling with as a parent. This whole "law" culture that we are raising our kids in really surfaced during the All Star season for my 10-yr-old daughter's softball team. They went to states this year. So many of the parents heap mounds of pressure on their children to make "this a summer they'll never forget." That includes 3 hours of practice a day in the sweltering heat for 10-yr-old girls. Really?
    During these two months, family dinner time has been a joke. It's like we've turned backyard fun into professional-child-careers. But none of the other parents seemed to mind. In fact, they loved it. For them, "bonding time" was all about working on a better swing. Sometimes it is. But definitely not when you turn your meaning and value into performance.


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