Monday, May 10, 2010

Children as Idols

Issues, Etc.'s roundtable discussion on the challenges and joys of motherhood made me wonder how I would respond to the same questions.   Are children idols? From my classroom experience, yes, quite often.  Parents run their lives according to their children's sports teams and spelling tests.  It's no wonder we often choose to limit our families to one, two, or three children.  They seem more like personal assistants, neatly scheduling their children's lives, being careful not to double-book practices with family dinners or neighborhood playdates; gathering needed items for these neatly scheduled appointments; and personally accompanying them to every activity, checking with the adults "in charge" to be sure that they didn't forget anything their child might need.

What happened to responsibility?  When did we decide that children were too young to think and make decisions for themselves?  Our schools bend over backwards to deliver homework lists to the parents, rather than having the students write the homework in the assignment notebook.  (Surely you remember those- handy little inventions of spiral-bound calendars, plenty of blank space for filling in assignments, due dates, and lunch money reminders.)  We forgive late grades on assignments parents forgot to do.  We put the "OK" on the assignments done in (rather obviously) adult handwriting.  We call home when the child forgets the permission slip for the field trip, or the much-needed lunch money.  Why? Becaue parents always come to the rescue.  And if we don't give them that opportunity, we are to blame.

I just have a hard time picturing June Cleaver or Clair Huckstable running forgotten lunches and backpacks to the school to save their children from grumbling tummies or late grades.


  1. This is also evident as children grow older. If they are not expected to take responsibility for the small things, how can they know how to make wise decisions? When can they learn from their mistakes, if they have not made any? (Or, been held accountable for any mistakes.)

    The stakes become much higher as they become older. If Mom and Dad have solved every issue, that child will grow up expecting problems to magically resolve themselves.

  2. Rachel,

    I agree! If we don't teach our children responsibility when they are young, we'll be in a mess of trouble when they're older.

    Perhaps other parents will scoff, but I intend to let my children learn some lessons the hard way when they're young to (hopefully) avoid bigger problems with drastic consequences later.

    And thanks for commenting!