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View Full Version : Have American Parents Got It All Backwards?



WiccanLiberal
05-12-2013, 07:10 PM
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christine-grossloh/have-american-parents-got-it-all-backwards_b_3202328.html

"We hold some basic truths as self-evident when it comes to good parenting. Our job is to keep our children safe, enable them to fulfill their potential and make sure they're healthy and happy and thriving.The parent I used to be and the parent I am now both have the same goal: to raise self-reliant, self-assured, successful children. But 12 years of parenting, over five years of living on and off in Japan, two years of research, investigative trips to Europe and Asia and dozens of interviews with psychologists, child development experts, sociologists, educators, administrators and parents in Japan, Korea, China, Finland, Germany, Sweden, France, Spain, Brazil and elsewhere have taught me that though parents around the world have the same goals, American parents like me (despite our very best intentions) have gotten it all backwards."

I like a lot of what this writer says. And again, it seems intuitive for parents of an older generation and lost to the ones raising kids today.

Kathianne
05-12-2013, 09:50 PM
I agree with all but the co-sleeping, at least for over toddler age. I grant that is a cultural difference, we do expect our children to become individuals, part of which why one of our own cultural signposts is creativity.

What the author describes really was the case in the US 50 years ago for the most part. No, we never had 45 minutes of class, then recess. Then again, the US really isn't 'in the middle' of test results either, when one removes students who wouldn't be administered those tests in Finland or most of the world. http://www.epi.org/publication/bp359-guestworkers-high-skill-labor-market-analysis/

The points I like very much are the emphasis on letting kids not only know frustration, but allowing them the freedom to meet and deal with danger. Climbing trees and handling knives is not beyond the ken of most children. We had those kinds of freedom and yes, there were some very dumb things we did, that could have had tragic consequences, but didn't. Yeah, we didn't do the same dumb thing twice. However, the opportunities for new dumb things never ran out, until about 10 or 11, when one could think, "Hey, this may be too dangerous, could be a problem..."

We road our bikes and walked across busy streets by 5 and 6. Silly moms, they taught us how. Part of the reason I think drivers have gotten so bad at intersections is the general lack of pedestrians, especially young ones. During the summer, we often packed lunches in bags and didn't return until dinner time. Yeah, always had change in pockets in case we needed to call home, never happened. By 7 we would ride our bikes sometimes nearly 8 miles to The Old Graue Mill. (http://www.grauemill.org/)Great place for kids, today schools take them for field trips. We figured it out on our own. Sure we went in the museum and watched the grinding into corn meal, but mostly we had a picnic and walked through the woods and along the creek. (Interesting, there were posted signs that the water was highly polluted, if in contact see a doctor for tetanus shot.) I guess we had the shots, cause we had lots of contact with the water. LOL!

There were days we also went north, rather than south, just going about 1.5 miles to Wilder Park, (http://www.epd.org/parks/wilder-park.asp) where the library used to be. There still is botanical gardens (http://www.epd.org/facilities/conserv.asp) and a museum of Lapidary Arts (http://www.lizzadromuseum.org/). Today the library is in new building, across from the park, but back then, we could spend the whole day playing in the park, having our picnic, and spending a few hours in the museum and library. If we wanted, a few more blocks took us to Baskin Robbins 31 Flavors or Walgreens with a soda fountain/dining area. There was a Stop & Shop, with weird European goods, we used to bother the workers with questions about strange meats and spices. Indeed, that was when I realized that everything food related wasn't just meat and potatoes. ;)

The one area my mother wouldn't relent on was going to the movies without an adult, until 10. Considering the first time my friend and I did, we were bothered by an older man and the ushers wouldn't take us seriously, I understood.

Today I just don't see parents easily attempting to give their kids this type of freedom, the authorities may indeed be called in.

Tyr-Ziu Saxnot
05-12-2013, 10:49 PM
I agree with all but the co-sleeping, at least for over toddler age. I grant that is a cultural difference, we do expect our children to become individuals, part of which why one of our own cultural signposts is creativity.

What the author describes really was the case in the US 50 years ago for the most part. No, we never had 45 minutes of class, then recess. Then again, the US really isn't 'in the middle' of test results either, when one removes students who wouldn't be administered those tests in Finland or most of the world. http://www.epi.org/publication/bp359-guestworkers-high-skill-labor-market-analysis/

The points I like very much are the emphasis on letting kids not only know frustration, but allowing them the freedom to meet and deal with danger. Climbing trees and handling knives is not beyond the ken of most children. We had those kinds of freedom and yes, there were some very dumb things we did, that could have had tragic consequences, but didn't. Yeah, we didn't do the same dumb thing twice. However, the opportunities for new dumb things never ran out, until about 10 or 11, when one could think, "Hey, this may be too dangerous, could be a problem..."

We road our bikes and walked across busy streets by 5 and 6. Silly moms, they taught us how. Part of the reason I think drivers have gotten so bad at intersections is the general lack of pedestrians, especially young ones. During the summer, we often packed lunches in bags and didn't return until dinner time. Yeah, always had change in pockets in case we needed to call home, never happened. By 7 we would ride our bikes sometimes nearly 8 miles to The Old Graue Mill. (http://www.grauemill.org/)Great place for kids, today schools take them for field trips. We figured it out on our own. Sure we went in the museum and watched the grinding into corn meal, but mostly we had a picnic and walked through the woods and along the creek. (Interesting, there were posted signs that the water was highly polluted, if in contact see a doctor for tetanus shot.) I guess we had the shots, cause we had lots of contact with the water. LOL!

There were days we also went north, rather than south, just going about 1.5 miles to Wilder Park, (http://www.epd.org/parks/wilder-park.asp) where the library used to be. There still is botanical gardens (http://www.epd.org/facilities/conserv.asp) and a museum of Lapidary Arts (http://www.lizzadromuseum.org/). Today the library is in new building, across from the park, but back then, we could spend the whole day playing in the park, having our picnic, and spending a few hours in the museum and library. If we wanted, a few more blocks took us to Baskin Robbins 31 Flavors or Walgreens with a soda fountain/dining area. There was a Stop & Shop, with weird European goods, we used to bother the workers with questions about strange meats and spices. Indeed, that was when I realized that everything food related wasn't just meat and potatoes. ;)

The one area my mother wouldn't relent on was going to the movies without an adult, until 10. Considering the first time my friend and I did, we were bothered by an older man and the ushers wouldn't take us seriously, I understood.

Today I just don't see parents easily attempting to give their kids this type of freedom, the authorities may indeed be called in.

I came from a very large family, a farm family . We were given even greater fredom than that which you listed. That freedom came after we did our daily chores. It came with a price. A good lesson learned early on it was. I often did my chores early in the Summer when out on school vacation. That way the rest of the day I could range far and wide all day away from the house hunting or just target shooting to hone in game hunting skills. Many times I left 9am and return at 6 pm. Mom and dad never said a word except how did it go, got my usual answer-- went just fine... Trust, I had earned by proper gun discipline and handling since 6 years old . I was 10 years old then......
These days that would get the parents arrested and the entire family taken away from the parents. Back then it was the norm.--Tyr

Kathianne
05-12-2013, 11:17 PM
I came from a very large family, a farm family . We were given even greater fredom than that which you listed. That freedom came after we did our daily chores. It came with a price. A good lesson learned early on it was. I often did my chores early in the Summer when out on school vacation. That way the rest of the day I could range far and wide all day away from the house hunting or just target shooting to hone in game hunting skills. Many times I left 9am and return at 6 pm. Mom and dad never said a word except how did it go, got my usual answer-- went just fine... Trust, I had earned by proper gun discipline and handling since 6 years old . I was 10 years old then......
These days that would get the parents arrested and the entire family taken away from the parents. Back then it was the norm.--Tyr

Our family 'vacation home' is in rural area, the kids still have most of the freedoms you speak of. They are farm kids and yes, we often see them on mini-bikes or walking far, far from home. While no one I know would tell kids it's ok to 'figure out' boating on Lake Michigan, even with a life guard qualification; kids on the Illinois River from Princeton are often seen heading for falls or rapids, (none of which are extreme), and figuring it out. When they fail, help is nearby. Summer ritual.

For most of my kids young lives, until the oldest was in 2nd year of high school, they were raised in same city and neighborhood I was. Because of that, I gave them far more freedom than any of their friends. However, no where near what I had growing up.

To go to Graue Mill would mean allowing a 7 or 8 year old to cross 2, 4 lane highways, while riding their bikes on a 40 mph thoroughfare. The police would stop that, pronto. I KNOW, my brother was deputy chief of police and I asked. LOL!

They did go to Wilder Park together with lunches at 6, 8, and 10. That was after we'd gone at least several dozen times together, practicing crossing with lights and the route they would take. The daughter, the oldest, had a watch and was told they had to be back by 3:30, they'd left at 9. I admit, I'd driven, parked and made sure they were ok, around 11:30. Unlike my friend and I, they weren't allowed to go the extra blocks to get to the downtown, I wasn't ready for them to go over 6 sets of train tracks.

After that, we began to practice walking to school, which only meant crossing at a light, once. Most days they walked after a few weeks, as long as the weather was ok. That was about a mile walk, each way. No other kids did that, as my daughter continuously pointed out, who realized being 'independent' seemed to mean not only watching her brothers, but also more exercise than she really appreciated. LOL! When the youngest switched to public school, the other two started riding their bikes. By that time I was back in school and would drop the young one off with my parents, after the two oldest left. He'd walk with neighbor kids the 3 blocks to school. I will say, unlike many neighborhoods, the parents at our local elementary tended to let the kids walk to school, including kindergarten kids. Sometimes moms would walk and meet, but rarely was there a line of cars, unless it was pouring or really cold.

In an area of high traffic and many intercity roads, it's easy for parents, even in 'good suburbs' to become concerned with safety. Rural areas are protected from some of this, yet because of the high rate of speed that cars travel, accidents certainly do happen.

Tyr-Ziu Saxnot
05-13-2013, 09:30 AM
Our family 'vacation home' is in rural area, the kids still have most of the freedoms you speak of. They are farm kids and yes, we often see them on mini-bikes or walking far, far from home. While no one I know would tell kids it's ok to 'figure out' boating on Lake Michigan, even with a life guard qualification; kids on the Illinois River from Princeton are often seen heading for falls or rapids, (none of which are extreme), and figuring it out. When they fail, help is nearby. Summer ritual.

For most of my kids young lives, until the oldest was in 2nd year of high school, they were raised in same city and neighborhood I was. Because of that, I gave them far more freedom than any of their friends. However, no where near what I had growing up.

To go to Graue Mill would mean allowing a 7 or 8 year old to cross 2, 4 lane highways, while riding their bikes on a 40 mph thoroughfare. The police would stop that, pronto. I KNOW, my brother was deputy chief of police and I asked. LOL!

They did go to Wilder Park together with lunches at 6, 8, and 10. That was after we'd gone at least several dozen times together, practicing crossing with lights and the route they would take. The daughter, the oldest, had a watch and was told they had to be back by 3:30, they'd left at 9. I admit, I'd driven, parked and made sure they were ok, around 11:30. Unlike my friend and I, they weren't allowed to go the extra blocks to get to the downtown, I wasn't ready for them to go over 6 sets of train tracks.

After that, we began to practice walking to school, which only meant crossing at a light, once. Most days they walked after a few weeks, as long as the weather was ok. That was about a mile walk, each way. No other kids did that, as my daughter continuously pointed out, who realized being 'independent' seemed to mean not only watching her brothers, but also more exercise than she really appreciated. LOL! When the youngest switched to public school, the other two started riding their bikes. By that time I was back in school and would drop the young one off with my parents, after the two oldest left. He'd walk with neighbor kids the 3 blocks to school. I will say, unlike many neighborhoods, the parents at our local elementary tended to let the kids walk to school, including kindergarten kids. Sometimes moms would walk and meet, but rarely was there a line of cars, unless it was pouring or really cold.

In an area of high traffic and many intercity roads, it's easy for parents, even in 'good suburbs' to become concerned with safety. Rural areas are protected from some of this, yet because of the high rate of speed that cars travel, accidents certainly do happen.

It is great that you gave your kids such freedom and checked on their safety as well. You are a better example of practicing what you preach with your kids than I was with my daughter. I did not even let here ride her bike around OUR block until she was about 11. Yes, I was way overprotective ! I guess because we live in the city and I had not the trust of its location as I would have had we lived in a well experienced rural location. I did try to correct that over protection starting when she turned 14 and I got custody of her during my divorce. Only then because even she pointed out my over protection. I plead my guilt on doing that but also point how sick and sexually twisted this world is and how extremely beautiful my daughter was I knew the increased danger she faced from sexual predator perverts, etc. All turned out very well but I made a mistake in too severely limiting her freedom methinks. It is always a safety issue and I realised my not being present to protect her would utterly destroy me should she come to harm for my not being there.

I will try to correct that with my son because I see it already in my care of him too. Even my wife tells me that I am too overprotective but I remind her I used to be very familiar with a lot of very bad people . I was indeed completely in pure contempt of my own safety as a young man , taking many hundreds of life threatening risks/actions. Somebody(unseen) had to have been watching over me, thank God. Perhaps that blessing came by way of my father's family which included several Baptist ministers going way back. Lord knows it wasn't from me, as I was one bigtime hellraiser back then..-Tyr

Kathianne
05-13-2013, 04:52 PM
I've posted this tens of times over the years: Statistically there are no more kidnappings and pedophile attacks than in the 1950's and 60's, controlling for population growth. Of course this can change in certain locales if the demographics change too. But in general, the kids are as safe from predators as ever.

Traffic safety though is an issue. One should not allow untrained children to wander willy nilly. Just like driving, I taught my kids to be 'defensive' regarding traffic. 'Assume the car will not stop, unless the driver comes to a dead stop, is looking for traffic in the other direction, only cross at light or stop signs on busy streets.

One of the things that gave me 'permission' was having a brother that could access all the stats. There actually was a decrease in predator crimes in the 80's and 90's in our city.

tailfins
06-24-2013, 11:31 PM
I've posted this tens of times over the years: Statistically there are no more kidnappings and pedophile attacks than in the 1950's and 60's, controlling for population growth. Of course this can change in certain locales if the demographics change too. But in general, the kids are as safe from predators as ever.

Traffic safety though is an issue. One should not allow untrained children to wander willy nilly. Just like driving, I taught my kids to be 'defensive' regarding traffic. 'Assume the car will not stop, unless the driver comes to a dead stop, is looking for traffic in the other direction, only cross at light or stop signs on busy streets.

One of the things that gave me 'permission' was having a brother that could access all the stats. There actually was a decrease in predator crimes in the 80's and 90's in our city.

On my 16th birthday I was given free roam of the entire state (Missouri). Even parts of Illinois were allowed on a case-by-case basis. The only stipulation was to stay out of colored areas. My old man told me if he caught me in a colored area, I could figure on handing over the car keys.

gabosaurus
06-24-2013, 11:57 PM
On my 16th birthday I was given free roam of the entire state (Missouri). Even parts of Illinois were allowed on a case-by-case basis. The only stipulation was to stay out of colored areas. My old man told me if he caught me in a colored area, I could figure on handing over the car keys.

Sounds like your father possessed the same level of racial hatred and lack of understanding that my grandfather did. He never got over the fact that one of his boys married a Mexican and the other married a German.

It is true that American parents do not stress education and achievement as much as those from other countries. At the same time, we don't have the level of teen suicides as are present in Asian countries. In many European countries, not passing your exams means you are pretty much screwed.
My parents were pretty strict. I couldn't go anyplace that my parents did not approve of. Nor could I read or listen to anything that was not approved. At the same time, my parents didn't tell me what to think. They never told me what was expected of me. I was not pushed into a specific field of study or steered toward any occupation.
The parents I worry about now are those who want to hover over their offspring 24/7 (the dreaded "helicopter parents." ) If you are of the opinion that your children are never wrong and would never exhibit incorrect behavior, you need a swift kick in the head to push you back into reality.
And if you believe your kids tell you everything and never lie to you, prepare for a cruel awakening.

Abbey
07-03-2013, 04:55 PM
...
And if you believe your kids tell you everything and never lie to you, prepare for a cruel awakening.

Ain't that the truth. Our 21 year old has recently started telling us of little things she did when she was younger that we never knew about. Luckily they aren't bad, but we wouldn't have liked them had we known back then.
The fact that we never had a clue is not lost on me. :laugh2:

I don't make an issue out of it, since she still is more forthcoming than I ever was at her age. When she was young, I told her that I won't know everything she does, but God will. That only goes so far when you are young and your friends are having fun. :laugh:

Tyr-Ziu Saxnot
07-03-2013, 09:58 PM
Ain't that the truth. Our 21 year old has recently started telling us of little things she did when she was younger that we never knew about. Luckily they aren't bad, but we wouldn't have liked them had we known back then.
The fact that we never had a clue is not lost on me. :laugh2:

I don't make an issue out of it, since she still is more forthcoming than I ever was at her age. When she was young, I told her that I won't know everything she does, but God will. That only goes so far when you are young and your friends are having fun. :laugh: My daughter now 24 has recently in our talks admitted to several things she did that would have had very serious consequences back then if we had only known. Kids are great at such deception because we as parents love them and so often give them the benefit of the doubt. She never did drugs but did admit she got hammered a couple times at 17!!! Always when away on an overnight stay at a school friend's home. ALL YE PARENTS : BEWARE OF THE DREADED OVERNIGHT STAY FIASCOS AND ESCAPADES.. :laugh:--Tyr Note: Says a lot to me about her character that she (on her own) decides to admit her transgressions as a teenager. We've always been very close and she always knew that I'd be there for her come hell or high water!--Tyr