I grew up with depression-era parents where our opinion was neither asked for nor tolerated. We were ruled with an iron hand and expected to obey without question. I was scared to death of my father and although not as much of my mother, she had her ways of making me pay for not listening to her. She would get upset with me at the slightest provocation and wouldn’t speak to me like she did before my wedding. Forget that it’s supposed to be the happiest time in a young woman’s life, that’s just how my Mom was, and still is, frankly. You just didn’t want to get on the wrong side of her. So I really get that the next generation, raised by similar types of parents would allow the pendulum, so to speak, to swing the other way.
So what are the up and the down side of this type of child raising? Certainly it’s a great idea to promote well-being in a child. Regardless of the child’s IQ or physical ability, he or she should be encouraged to do their best to succeed in life. Success should be judged individually and not against a yard stick of others. There will always be someone faster, smarter or slimmer out there, so what is this child good at? Perhaps they are kind, willing to share or a born leader. They may not be the best reader or understand calculus. We should promote and encourage each child for what they bring into this world. I saw an amazing story the other day about a beautiful woman born without legs. She was actually adopted by truly loving parents who supported her being the best she could be and she didn’t let them down. Her friends accepted that she was just a smaller version of what they knew as a person but she is really beautiful. This girl grew up not knowing limitations and went on to excel in acrobatics. Seeing her perform on the internet not only made me smile, it gave me a great sense of awe in the world we live in. She had beauty inside and out. So here is an example of supporting a child and having it work out.
There are many similar examples of parents teaching their kids to be self-sufficient and growing into productive, highly functioning adults that accept responsibility in the world. But what can go wrong when parents treat their kids as if the child is the center of the universe? We’ve all experienced the screaming kid in the restaurant where the parent is hardly noticing while the rest of the diners try to look away or somehow quickly finish their own meals to leave. It’s so annoying to listen to loud voices in a restaurant of any kind, let alone a screaming kid. One goes out to dinner to enjoy a meal otherwise, well, just stay home. Then there’s the similar situation on a plane. I’ve had very long flights where young children are either crying or fighting with each other while the parents don’t do any kind of productive parenting. When we were kids, we were given Dramamine and simply slept during the trip. It was better for everyone involved. If anyone disagrees with me, feel free to express your opinion since I’m certainly expressing mine.
So what else can happen when kids are given too much free rein? Well, in the case of my brother’s kids, they grew up with wonderful athletic skills as well as doing quite well in the academic department also. They were surrounded by friends and as they came from good looking parents they had no trouble finding boy/girl-friends. Thus by most standards they were good kids, doing well in school, getting good grades and being quite popular. So what happened when they hit the real world? Well, here’s where things get a bit dicey. Since just about everything had been done for them for way beyond the beginning of adulthood (normally, when kids graduate from college they go off to start their own careers and also pay for their own apartments/homes, food, clothing, cars, etc.) As their parents could afford it, the kids continued to get their way paid for and to have their way with most things well into the next decade. When they hit a snag, like the girl had an argument with her long-time boyfriend, she just left him. If I said anything to her that she didn’t like, even casually, she’d act really snippy with me. And the boy began to exhibit extreme anger tendencies when things didn’t go his way, even to the point of personal attacks reminiscent of a much younger person. In other words, they were both rather emotionally immature because they didn’t learn much from the school of hard knocks. Their parents had so protected them from the world, when the world finally came in around them, they kind of failed the test from my vantage point. That’s not to say that they will never learn, but they haven’t learned yet.
If it seems that I have an axe to grind, you are correct, but I won’t air my dirty laundry. The general idea is enough for you to get my point. Too much control isn’t good just as too little control isn’t either. Like most things in life, we need to find balance.