Saturday, June 14, 2008


Thanks Jay for the book recommendation. I will likely grab a copy when it gets into a translation I can read. Although an interesting NPR report I heard recently discussed that some of child behavior problems stem from a lack of unstructured play. The basic premise of the research was that by allowing children to play outside of the control of adults allow kids to develop the skills to self-regulate. This also gives them skills in determining power structures in the groups of kids and learn what is acceptible in dealing with other kids. I think there is something there. At the same point, as parents, we are so heavily scheduled, we end up doing the same to our kids, even if unintentionally. But when I looked at the reasons you put in from the book I thought some just didn't make sense.

Reasons listed:
  1. destruction of the larger family unit, thus loneliness of the parents with the resulting desperate need to connect with the inmature child
  2. pressure to perform makes parents push kids harder than they can actually take
  3. lack of role models for healty parenting, both for parents and for kids
  4. misguided, romantic drive for freedom of mind and action, even in a 2 year old (the Flower Children are reaping a harvest they did not expect with their anti-authoritarian attitudes)
  5. lack of understanding of the healthy development steps of a forming mind

So let's see if I can make another numbered list to talk about them.

  1. Alright, I totally buy this one. Add to it smaller family sizes has led to smaller family groups. And add into this one, the break down of local neighborhood groups. Remember when you knew all your neighbors?
  2. What is meant by this? Is it a lack of giving praise? Honestly I think this ends up only affecting small pockets of parents. I think more likely you get parents that are involved in their prior lives and fail to give the appropriate time to their new lives with kids.
  3. Dysfunctional begets more dysfunctional is the basics there. In the end, we will tend to fall back as parents to the same things that our parents did. Those are our role models. As for kids, it comes down to us as parents.
  4. Yep.
  5. I am pretty sure that we are further along understanding the developing mind than we were 20 or 50 years ago. But the bottom levels of understanding in society are probably at what we were years ago though, is that bad?

Really, I try to compare what society is like now versus 50 years or 100 years ago. Is what we have as a society better or worse than before. I honestly think we are doing better just because we have time to think about these problems. But then we take these things that could help us get better and we blow them out of proportion.

Alright I think talked to long on that topic given I only planned to give thanks :)

To James on the same thread, personally responsibility is not a trait we have instilled in the current culture. Definitely is something we should work toward.

Otherwise, that is all I have for now. Back to work, since deadlines are looming.


Amanda said...

2. pressure to perform makes parents push kids harder than they can actually take

The way I'm seeing it (not having read the book) is that parents push their children to be smarter, faster, better ... sometimes to the detriment of their overall health and development.

I recently spent a fair amount of time with theatre parents, and man, can they be hard on their kids. And you see it in all areas. Instead of letting their children have fun, or encourage the joy of learning, they focus on results. They want their kids to be perfect. At everything. They don't want their kids to be average, they expect them to be the best. Either because they feel it's their job as parents, because it's how they were treated growing up, because they think how good their children are at something is a reflection on them in society, or for any number of reasons. But pushing too hard can cause damage. You have to find a balance, and many people aren't able to do that. I see it every day.

J. Heuer said...

Hi Amanda, and yes, that is the idea. I think the idea of having to compete in a global market (which is so scary to my generation to grasp), we are worried that our kids will somehow be left behind. Idian kids go to school aged 3! Woah, that means we have to send our kid at 2.5 years, dosn't it?

WHen I take a look what separates the winners from the losers in the job market, it is NOT the technical skills we learn at school. It is the personal and interpersonal skills that we learn IN BETWEEN classes. So the earlier we send kids to school, and away from play groups and families, the worse they will be off in these critical skills... which is exactly what I see happening with many of the Indian and Chinese folks I worked with: brilliant engineers, measly team players. In short: I will take a slightly less educated engineer with interpersonal skills over the genius that tears the team apart.

The root causes I see?
* lack of understanding at the gut level what it takes to make a decent living (most of us will not be Bill Gates)
* lack of filtering of irrelevant information ("truth" is a LOCAL concept!)
* obsession with what is measurable (grades) above the less explained "soft" skills
* parental frustration in their jobs (look at what so and so across the country makes), being projected onto our kids ("my son better be better than me!", I actually heard that one from a father)

Overall, it is time for a big timeout to understand what it takes to have a functioning society. Technical skills will feed us, but will also let us drift apart as a community. It scares me a bit here in Germany how much the haves and have-nots are separating in an ongoing process. Mind you, I am by no means a socialist, but my son needs to be able to live outside a gated community...


Reverend0 said...


I am in that boat. I really hope I don't project too much on Miranda. It will likely be hard. If you remember Mr. Farah, he would always tell the story of his father telling all his kids that your will be either a doctor or an engineer. It's kinda funny, but in the end all the kids did go into engineering. I would hope that they are happy. Really that is something to be strived for. Although, happiness should not involve broke, starving artist boyfriend living in my basement. I guess I am projecting a bit on my daughter....

But that really begs the question, how can we be role models and not project our desires on our kids? Projecting just values will inherently pass along our same desires. Maybe we should but to keep it positive.

The Really Sarcastic Weasel said...

Amanda said:

"The way I'm seeing it (not having read the book) is that parents push their children to be smarter, faster, better"

My children will be cyborgs. They will be smarter, faster, better... they will also have lasers that come out of their hands and missile launchers in their forearms.

They will also be programmed to be spontaneous in approved manners.