Author Topic: Aspirational parents condemn their children to a desperate, joyless life  (Read 9980 times)

elysianfields

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chouchouu

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Well I think most kids in this set up will burn put before they reach the elite university, happened to my cousins. They opened up a tutoring school at the bottom of my apartment block. It's so depressing seeing these elementary school aged kids waiting for cram school to begin on a beautiful Saturday morning. Not to mention all the SUVs idling for pick up.

Torran

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I read this too, loved it.

I know one person who has a small child (5 years) and already has the child going to extracurricular activities every single night - including learning a second language, and extra maths tuition. Also talks about the 'fun' activities the kid does as being the group activities chosen for the purpose of 'socialising' their kid properly. So he grows up to be PERFECT, I guess. No pressure.

It just makes me frustrated and sad. But then I think of that whole thing of looking at other people's lives and reminding yourself, 'not my circus, not my monkeys'.

I obviously still judge in private and the write about it on internet forms, though.

Torran

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Forums. I don't fill in forms about it. I judge but cannot even type. Maybe my parents should have sent me to more extra-curricular literacy classes.

Elderwood17

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"We know that our conditions of life are deteriorating. Most young people have little prospect of owning a home, or even of renting a decent one. Interesting jobs are sliced up, through digital Taylorism, into portions of meaningless drudgery. The natural world, whose wonders enhance our lives, and upon which our survival depends, is being rubbed out with horrible speed. Those to whom we look for guardianship, in government and among the economic elite, do not arrest this decline, they accelerate it."

I can be rather cynical, but this paragraph was a bit extreme!

GuitarStv

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"We know that our conditions of life are deteriorating. Most young people have little prospect of owning a home, or even of renting a decent one. Interesting jobs are sliced up, through digital Taylorism, into portions of meaningless drudgery. The natural world, whose wonders enhance our lives, and upon which our survival depends, is being rubbed out with horrible speed. Those to whom we look for guardianship, in government and among the economic elite, do not arrest this decline, they accelerate it."

I can be rather cynical, but this paragraph was a bit extreme!

In what way?

sleepyguy

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Sadly this is EXACTLY how my brother is raising his 2 sons.  I'm pretty sure he'll spend a million or 2 on them before they are 18.  I guess to each their own though.

- private school
- tutors
- private swin lessons
- private golf lessons
- private tennis lessons
- piano
- etc, etc, etc

The 'sad' part is he does NOTHING WITH him in ANY of these activities?  I just don't get it.

Personally I'll be teach my kids all the sports, learning to camp (build a fire, clean a fish, fishing, etc), schooling (helping with homework if need be), etc, etc.  I think that is one of the many joys of parenting... not to pay some high fee for some "expert" else to do it for you.


Sibley

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The number of people taking things to this extreme really is probably quite small as compared to total population, and it won't last long (meaning 20ish years). Of course, those kids are probably going to have really screwed up lives, and I feel really sorry for them.

I'd be interested to know if anyone decides to report the parents for child abuse - the 2 year old girl in particular sounds like a good candidate for that.

MgoSam

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Yeah my sister spends quite a lot on her kids, but as I understand it, the pressure is very high to do so in the east coast and things are a lot more expensive there. One thing I do like is that their eldest is progressing very fast in Taekwondo and a huge part of that is that my sister's husband is very involved in this activity (don't know if this is the right word). He observes as many classes as he can, and has his son practice as often as he can, oftentimes giving as much advice as he can. Martial arts can be amazing for children, and it is an activity that both of them enjoy.

I'm not a parent, nor do I ever intend to be, so I may be well off-base in this, but I suspect that it isn't the amount spent, or the actual activities, but the attention that children are given. You can bring a kid to a bunch of private tennis classes, but nothing will ever beat taking your son and daughter out to a court and hitting the ball with them on a Sunday afternoon.

MLKnits

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It's interesting that this is being painted as new (but then, there always has to be SOMETHING to publish, and attacking parents is usually a guaranteed click-source).

Sociologists have been following the same basic thing pretty much since sociology has been a thing: the children of the poor are highly independent and have to be able to entertain themselves; the children of the upper classes are hugely scheduled and instructed; middle-class kids get a mix.

Back in the day it would have been boarding school and polo; today those kids mostly live at home, so it's lessons of all kinds, but the basics are the same.

That said: I'm grateful as hell for the independent parts of my own middle-class upbringing. I spent huge chunks of my childhood up a tree, while my kid sister, who was born when my parents were already doing much, much better, was very heavily scheduled (and loved it, and pursued the arts--so she wasn't thrown into Wall Street or something).

I think the Mustachian angle on this kind of thing is parents pushing their kids in this way often also push for the most expensive education, leaving their kids saddled with debt, and thereby forced into jobs they may hate but need to pay those debts back. But violin lessons, meh. I wish I'd been forced to learn a few more things when my brain was fresher, to be honest. It's not exactly the worst thing in the world to be exposed to more education, and if the parents want to bring those costs into their lives, so be it, I guess.

Elderwood17

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"We know that our conditions of life are deteriorating. Most young people have little prospect of owning a home, or even of renting a decent one. Interesting jobs are sliced up, through digital Taylorism, into portions of meaningless drudgery. The natural world, whose wonders enhance our lives, and upon which our survival depends, is being rubbed out with horrible speed. Those to whom we look for guardianship, in government and among the economic elite, do not arrest this decline, they accelerate it."

I can be rather cynical, but this paragraph was a bit extreme!


In what way?

Well, our kids at least are renting decent homes, and they have jobs that stimulate them.  To say young people have "little prospect" of owning or at least renting a decent home struck me as quite cynical.   Perhaps I am a closet optimist but I think a lot of kids will do just fine.

shotgunwilly

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"We know that our conditions of life are deteriorating. Most young people have little prospect of owning a home, or even of renting a decent one. Interesting jobs are sliced up, through digital Taylorism, into portions of meaningless drudgery. The natural world, whose wonders enhance our lives, and upon which our survival depends, is being rubbed out with horrible speed. Those to whom we look for guardianship, in government and among the economic elite, do not arrest this decline, they accelerate it."

I can be rather cynical, but this paragraph was a bit extreme!

In what way?

Conditions of life deteriorating?  That couldn't be further from the truth.  It's just hedonic adapatation that has us BELIEVING that.  In reality, we are all very fortunate compared to people of the past.

GuitarStv

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"We know that our conditions of life are deteriorating. Most young people have little prospect of owning a home, or even of renting a decent one. Interesting jobs are sliced up, through digital Taylorism, into portions of meaningless drudgery. The natural world, whose wonders enhance our lives, and upon which our survival depends, is being rubbed out with horrible speed. Those to whom we look for guardianship, in government and among the economic elite, do not arrest this decline, they accelerate it."

I can be rather cynical, but this paragraph was a bit extreme!

In what way?

Conditions of life deteriorating?  That couldn't be further from the truth.  It's just hedonic adapatation that has us BELIEVING that.  In reality, we are all very fortunate compared to people of the past.

Sorry, I was referring to the second half of the paragraph.

Nudelkopf

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Sadly this is EXACTLY how my brother is raising his 2 sons.  I'm pretty sure he'll spend a million or 2 on them before they are 18.  I guess to each their own though.

- private school
- tutors
- private swin lessons
- private golf lessons
- private tennis lessons
- piano
- etc, etc, etc
Yeah, I like to make fun of these people too... Except I'm a private maths tutor, so I'm quite glad for their money :)

Big Boots Buddha

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^^^^^

I'm also a private tutor and make as much on Saturday and Sunday as I do from mon-fri with my "real job".

I'm a language tutor and also a language learner. I wish my parents had the money/wherewithal to push me to learn Spanish or French as a child when its so easy. I learned Mandarin from 24-30. It was so difficult. Had I started at 3 years old, I wouldn't even remember learning it. I would simply know it.

Bob W

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I really see no problem with this type of parenting.  Wish my parents had spent that amount of money and focus on my education at an early age.   I mean what are the alternatives,  pointless sports activities, watching TV, climbing trees?

Nudelkopf

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kid A: Scheduled to within an inch of their lives, plays multiple instruments, speaks multiple languages - but doesn't have a clue what they really want.

kid B: Is given free reign to explore different passions, join different causes, build social skills, growing and learning based on their own strengths and weaknesses. By the time they finish high school maybe they actually have a clue who they really are.
kid C: Does fuck all with their life. Does not explore passions. Does not join causes. Sits at home on Facebook and other social media, not building social skills. By the time they finish high school, they're dumb as fuck and don't have any clue who they are because they've done nothing with their lives.

deborah

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kid A- :Scheduled to within an inch of their lives, competes with all the other kids in a competitive school, starts feeling that she is not keeping up, develops anorexia and spends several years in and out of hospital...

One Noisy Cat

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justajane

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kid A: Scheduled to within an inch of their lives, plays multiple instruments, speaks multiple languages - but doesn't have a clue what they really want.

kid B: Is given free reign to explore different passions, join different causes, build social skills, growing and learning based on their own strengths and weaknesses. By the time they finish high school maybe they actually have a clue who they really are.
kid C: Does fuck all with their life. Does not explore passions. Does not join causes. Sits at home on Facebook and other social media, not building social skills. By the time they finish high school, they're dumb as fuck and don't have any clue who they are because they've done nothing with their lives.

Well, thankfully there is life after high school. Even if you squandered these years, you still have plenty of time to reinvent yourself. In general, I am uncomfortable with society or other people labeling people as fuck ups or losers or "dumb as fuck" at such a young age.

Also, I let my kids play lots and lots of video games and watch you tube. My eldest has just turned seven and is reading and comprehending book 4 of Harry Potter (5th grade reading level). Letting your kids "brain fry" by doing things that both sides of the extreme parenting spectrum (Tiger parents versus free range parents) frown upon does not mean your kid is going to fail at life or be useless intellectually. Most parents fall in the middle and let their kids both climb trees and play Minecraft.

I'm not criticizing you directly but using your stark divisions as a jumping off point to dispute either/or parenting.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Anecdotally, I was scheduled to the max as a kid. What it taught me to do is make everything take longer than it needed to to give myself some breathing room. Not the best life habit.

Tabaxus

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I really see no problem with this type of parenting.  Wish my parents had spent that amount of money and focus on my education at an early age.   I mean what are the alternatives,  pointless sports activities, watching TV, climbing trees?

"Pointless sports activities" -- yes, physical fitness, teambuilding, and having fun is super pointless for kids.

"Climbing trees" -- same point.

I fell on the side of under-scheduled, with the exception of music lessons (and I was the primary driver there, basically against my parents' will, so far that I ended up with a music undergrad that I don't use...). 

If I ever have kids, I won't do the super overscheduling thing, I won't let them do the total free range thing either, because I came really, REALLY close to being in the "group c" fuckup group mentioned by someone above.  Managed to pull myself out of it by complete luck. 

Chris22

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My daughter is about to be 3, and my wife signed her up for "dance lessons" with the local park district (as much as a 3y/o dances).  She went to buy her ballet slippers, and the lady at the dance store asked my wife "where does your daughter dance?" and my wife responded with "uh, the ______ park district?"  The lady made some snarky comment about "Oh, we don't need to bother putting THAT in the system" as though it's not worth keeping track of or whatever.  My wife, to her credit, snarled back "she's friggin' THREE, where do you think she should dance?!?"

justajane

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Boys in our district tend to be in 2-3 sports per year, usually soccer, basketball and baseball. For the first year of kindergarten, we did both soccer and baseball, but we made it clear to our eldest that he had to choose one or the other. We have three boys, and there's no way I'm letting them do more than one sport each. I value my free time.

I don't think other parents are doing this to make their kids into superstars in any sport. This are very low-key leagues. It is also pretty cheap in terms of dollars, but not in terms of time. I imagine they either think this is what they are supposed to do or they actually enjoy going to the games. It could go either way.

I would love to do piano lessons for all three of my boys, but I had no idea how expensive they were. This puts the fact that I had private, weekly piano lessons from age 4-17 in a whole new light. I am grateful for my parents for doing this, but that's a lot of dough!

MEJG

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There is a balance, and that is what we hope to achieve with our kids.  When I was a young child my sister and I, she is 2.5 years younger, tried dance and gymnastics for a session each- we didn't enjoy either and our parents let us stop.  We tried soccer, I hated it and stopped she liked it and continued.  I took flute lessons as school, but the teacher was creepy so after the 1st year I asked to stop and now as an adult I wished I had continued some sort of music lessons.  We always had the opportunity to try an activity and to continue or not based on our interest.  Eventually I and my three siblings all joined a karate dojo we ALL adored, and I took horse back riding lessons while my siblings all played 1-2 sports per year.  I never felt pressured, over scheduled or anything of the like.   I did get to find things that sparked interest and passion.

Our 5 year old is taking piano, he loves is and often asks when he can have a real piano and take two lessons a week. I chalk it up to a great teacher and we only spend $20/ 30 minute lessons. He's a bit young for a martial art and did 8 weeks of gymnastics this spring.  He loved it a begged to do it this summer but alas our schedule didn't allow it.  This summer he's taking swim lessons.  We feel this is really important as he spends a lot of time in the summer at his grandparent's lake house, and I can barely swim so don't feel comfy teaching him.  Two things at once seem to keep him pretty darn happy- and give him a lot of free play time outside too.

Our two year old took 4 weeks of "Mommy and Me" swim just to get her used to the water, $35 total and a lot of fun.  This fall I'll be doing a mommy and me gymnastics with her too- mostly to help with some physical development stuff.  If she hates it we will stop.

In my ideal world my kids would each take a musical instrument, and study a martial art, but I know my ideal probably won't be theirs.  They will have choice :) and limits too.

shelivesthedream

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kid A- :Scheduled to within an inch of their lives, competes with all the other kids in a competitive school, starts feeling that she is not keeping up, develops anorexia and spends several years in and out of hospital...

Basically my entire school. We all had a lot of top-down pressure from the school, but I reckon the difference was in who had bottom-up support from their parents (in terms of emotional attention, not stupid stuff like driving them to lessons) and who just had more top-down pressure from parents (over-scheduling and over-spending either due to misplaced vicarious ambition or a guilty conscience for never being around). And those latter parents are then surprised to find out their daughter is anorexic, because they didn't even notice it happening because they were too busy looking at grades and activities in a pseudo-caring way to look at the actual person their child is behind all that.


zephyr911

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kid A: Scheduled to within an inch of their lives, plays multiple instruments, speaks multiple languages - but doesn't have a clue what they really want.

kid B: Is given free reign to explore different passions, join different causes, build social skills, growing and learning based on their own strengths and weaknesses. By the time they finish high school maybe they actually have a clue who they really are.
kid C: Does fuck all with their life. Does not explore passions. Does not join causes. Sits at home on Facebook and other social media, not building social skills. By the time they finish high school, they're dumb as fuck and don't have any clue who they are because they've done nothing with their lives.
--OR--

Kid D: encouraged to take part in a broad range of social, educational, and athletic pursuits, but almost never forced to. Childhood is a flavorful mix of structured competitive sports, volunteer activities, church groups, and choirs, but also aimlessly wandering creek beds and beaches doing whatever the fuck he feels like. Goes home at dark to build wack-ass robot monsters out of Legos and read piles of books - they are always made available and highly encouraged. Learns a language at school and practices it at home. Parent(s) don't just drive kids to events, but are emotionally involved. In the car, they play classical music and talk to the kids about it. They ask what's bothering them at school and take the stories to heart. They help with ideas to surmount those challenges.*

False dichotomies don't help with the arbitration here. What is important is to find a happy medium between cramming a child's life full of structured, skill-based activities that may open doors later, and allowing the child time to explore and be creative too. The happy medium may differ between one child and the next. ALSO, regardless of what level of busy-ness works well for any given kid, parents need to be personally involved, expressing love, support, concern and affection. I think one of the biggest concerns people have about OP-style parents is that they end up too busy to talk to their kid, keep up with what's going on emotionally and socially, and generally provide the intangibles that hold together a happy life.

I do think it's important to push kids into a few things, especially the shy ones, to help them find their passions. I don't think *anyone* needs to be overcommitted and stressed out with the pressure to achieve great things at a single-digit age. That is ludicrous and profoundly stupid.

*this was my childhood and it was really pretty good, despite a broken home, an ugly divorce and a scary stepdad. Props to Mom. \m/