Wednesday, July 11, 2012

No time to grow up

I know a young woman whose parents are both psychologists. I feel for her. She must feel that everything she does and everything she says is analyzed. I wouldn’t blame her if she was paranoid!

It seemed to me that all kids in our society don’t have it much easier these days. I’m not talking about the bleak future they face in the poor economy. I’m talking about the mixed messages they are getting. It is like no matter what they do, it’s not the right thing.

On the one hand, in recent years, kids have been told that they have to be super-achievers if they want to get anywhere in life. There is tremendous pressure on high schoolers to take accelerated classes and spend hundreds on test-prep classes in order to get into and do well at the top colleges. Some parents will do anything to get their toddlers, if not babies, into the right kindergartens that will feed into the right schools leading to the most prestigious universities. Last year, there was much talk about the Chinese-American “dragon mother” who demanded that her child studied and performed at the highest level.

I recently read about parents who threatened to sue officials when their graduating daughter was chosen to be the second-rated salutatorian instead of the first-rated valedictorian - the difference between 4.5 and 4.55, five hundredths of a point - at a Los Angeles-area high school. The mother complained of the daughter’s “sleepless nights” of studying being “for nothing,” while the father fumed, “You don’t want your kid to be a loser.”

On the other hand, there was the now famous high school commencement address a couple months ago in which an English teacher told the assembled graduates that they are “not special.” Not only is this a complete reversal from the popular good-try high self-esteem that they were brought up on in the last couple decades, it is probably a bitter pill to take with all the hard work they have had to do to get ahead.

When you add in the comments by some, as I’ve quoted here recently, that the new healthcare law babies young people by letting them stay on their parents’ insurance policy, it wouldn’t be surprising if kids nowadays feel they’re damned if they do, damned if they don’t. No wonder they’re lost on their iPhones.

1 comment:

  1. I think all psych students should be required to train an animal, other than a dog (most dogs are too biddable), like a cat or a chicken our even a fish. Seems like they mostly only have one day's worth of experience with behaviorism. Hey it would be a great idea if all parents were required to train an animal before they could have a child! Ha ha, best of all, a mule. I mean, really, what's so bad about giving praise for good behavior?

    Pat Wolff