Bad Mommy! No Biscuit!
pegkerr linked to this article, which I also read today. I'm still mulling over the article.
In particular, I was thinking about some of the things that my parents didn't have to deal with, that I do, that make parenting harder. The odd thing is that a lot of these are unintended consequences of good changes
Here's one. (1) The demise of the culture of the carpool. Back when I was a preschooler, I got a lot of rides from other people's parents. My mother and the other mothers took turns driving everyone's kids. Carpools are much MUCH less common than they used to be, because buckling up children has gotten vastly more complicated. When I was three, I was buckled up with a regular seatbelt, either in the front or in the back. Oh! And (you'll love this part!) if I was in the front seat of a car with shoulder belts, I would conscientiously tuck the shoulder part behind me, so that I was restrained with a lap belt only. My parents had taught me to do this so that I wouldn't get strangled by the shoulder belt should we crash.
Fortunately, the time I was in a car crash, we actually backed into something. (A house. We broke through the wall. Fortunately, Houston houses weren't built very well.) These days, Kiera rides in a carseat and Molly has quite recently graduated from a carseat to a booster. We can't give another kid a ride in our car because we don't have a minivan; the only remaining seats are the front (airbag) and the middle of the back (lap belt only, and precious little space left between the two carseats).
I think that the shift to properly restraining children in cars is a good one, don't get me wrong. But it has largely killed the culture of the carpool, because you need to have the boosters, or have the kids cart around the boosters, plus it's awfully hard when you can't put them three across in the back plus one up front.
So all the driving falls on the individual parents. You can't just share it out.
Here's another. 2. Increased protection of kids.
Back when I was a kid, my mother let me ride my bike up and down the block, unsupervised, at five. As a kindergartener, I was expected to walk home alone from my school four blocks away. It was close, but I was an easily confused kid and got lost a few times; in retrospect, one of my parents should have been picking me up. I had it down by first grade, at least. My best friend walked home with me to my house, then continued on to her own, much further away -- in second grade. We had good parents, conscientious parents. No parent I know would do that now.
At eight, I walked myself to Hebrew school, crossing an extremely busy street at a traffic light. By age ten or eleven, I regularly used public transportation to get to things like piano lessons and dance class. I was typical for a kid in the early 1980s. In nice weather, I rode my bike everywhere.
These days, most kids have a ton of activities, and their parents have to drive them to every single one until their kid is in junior high. You can't get a break by telling your kids to go outside and play; you need to go out with them to keep them safe. You walk them to the bus stop and wait with them. Because they could get kidnapped.
It is widely believed by mothers my age that the world is more dangerous than it was when we were kids. This is completely BS; the number of stranger kidnappings has always been extremely rare and has changed very little since the 1980s. Our parents, clearly, were being neglectful; either that, or we're being overprotective.
I personally think we're going to seriously screw up our kids unless we can get a collective grip and loosen the apron strings enough to let them stretch their wings a bit. But mine is a minority opinion, from what I can tell.
This definitely makes life harder for parents, though.
The article comes down hard on 3. A greater awareness of the impact of things like reading to your kids.
I've seen a couple of commentaries on this article today, and one place noted that part of the problem here is the way the information is often presented. Some educational psychologist does a study that shows that, say, kids who are raised in bilingual households do better at math in fourth grade. This gets picked up in the media, and there follows a series of much-simplified articles that all assume, first off, that correlation = causation. They also all dig up some local semi-expert who suggests that parents who don't happen to speak two languages should all sign their children up for Infant Language classes. The next step are the articles (and ads) that ask, Are you cheating your child with your failure to teach them Spanish at six months? You bad, bad, bad mommy.
I'll be back more with more commentary, maybe. Kiera wants me to read to her....