Kids Today! So Spoiled

Just relocating some comments from another thread….

When I was a boy, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise and impatient of restraint.

–Hesiod, ~ 800 BC

In the good old days, every man’s son, born in wedlock, was brought up not in the chamber of some hireling nurse, but in his mother’s lap, and at her knee. And that mother could have no higher praise than that she managed the house and gave herself to her children…

Nowadays… our children are handed over at their birth to some little Greek serving maid, with a male slave, who may be anyone, to help her.. it is from the foolish tittle-tattle of such persons that the children receive their first impressions, while their minds are still pliant and unformed… And the parents themselves make no effort to train their little ones in goodness and self-control; they grow up in an atmosphere or laxity and pertness, in which they come gradually to lose all sense of shame, and respect both for themselves and for other people.

–Tacitus, ~100 AD

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42 Responses to Kids Today! So Spoiled

  1. 1
    RonF says:

    Aaron V.:

    it’s shocking that kids need to be encouraged to get out and play. In *my* day, we were running around all day long until our parents told us to come home for dinner or when it was dark.

    In your (all right, our) day overprotective smothering parents didn’t see imaginary perverts around every corner, expected that their kids needed to get filthy, didn’t spray every cut with antibiotic, never used their kids’ name and the term “self-esteem” in the same sentence and would let their kids out of their sight for a couple of hours every day without collapsing in a paranoid fit. Understand that I was the odd kid in the neighborhood who’d rather stay inside and read than go outside and play baseball or tackle football with my two big brothers and our friends ranging from 6th grade through high school. But they dragged my ass outside anyway, and a good thing too.

    But now sports are not seen as a way for kids to have fun and blow off steam and a way for kids to learn how to work together and settle disputes. They are seen as ways to get a college scholarship for their son or daughter. They are seen as a way to develop techniques. They are a way for parents to live out their fantasies through their own kids. Mind you, my kids both played organized sports from 1st grade through college and they were great. But if you’re not careful it’s also a way for you to take over your kid’s recreational time and that really sucks for the kid.

    Sports Illustrated ran a story a few years ago on youth lacrosse. It came out of nowhere to become the fastest growing sport for kids. They interviewed kids to find out why they liked it so much. One of the major reasons the kids gave was that their parents didn’t know anything about the game and so they kept their mouths shut and didn’t try to get involved or yell out coaching advice, etc. from the sidelines. I think that’s one reason why kids get together and play video games – it excludes their parents. It used to be that we could get away from our parents by going over to David’s house and play football in the field next door. But the property owner would ban that now because he’d expect to get sued if some kid broke a finger or cut his knee on a rock, which would not have happened when I was a kid. And the parents would come over to “keep an eye” on the kids and then start playing referee and offer advice on how to play the game.

    [ /rant ]

  2. 2
    Mandolin says:

    In my day, there were none of these hovercars. You drove on the ground or you took a plane. None of this in-between, teaching people you don’t have to be one thing or the other, but that there are other options entirely…

    (Yes, that’s snark, but your take is kind of limited, Ron. Not all parents in this “day” are the ones characterized by a certain set of suburban values–not even all suburban parents. You’re erasing a lot of people by suggesting that what you’re considering is a contrast based solely on time. Additionally, I fail to be sympathetic to the terrible tragedy that is parents considering their children’s self-esteem.)

    We’ve reached derail, and I suggest to Amp that the boy scout theme be split to an open thread.

  3. 3
    Mandolin says:

    “Based on that reaction and how the kids act at meetings and campouts it has become apparent that the parents in my neighborhood rarely use the word “no” to their kids.”

    Kids these days! So spoiled! Like never, ever, ever before!

    You know there are writings thousands of years old that say this?

  4. 4
    RonF says:

    Yeah, I think I can dig up a quote from Cicero about this. The thing is, it’s not all kids by any means. There seems to be a correlation between “used to getting my own way” and “Mom and Dad have money”. But going further down this road IS a threadjack.

  5. 5
    Robert says:

    You know there are writings thousands of years old that say this?

    “When I was a boy, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of
    elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise and impatient of
    restraint.”

    Hesiod, ~ 800 BC

  6. 6
    Mandolin says:

    “Mandolin, this all ties in to “it’s not a fat issue, it’s a fitness issue” and how do you get kids fit without shaming them because they’re overweight.”

    And that wasn’t a derail.

    It was a derail once it became about “Kids and parents today! Such shmucks.”

    900 years later than Robert’s, but still amusing. Tacitus:

    In the good old days, every man’s son, born in wedlock, was brought up not in the chamber of some hireling nurse, but in his mother’s lap, and at her knee. And that mother could have no higher praise than that she managed the house and gave herself to her children…

    And:

    Nowadays… our children are handed over at their birth to some little Greek serving maid, with a male slave, who may be anyone, to help her.. it is from the foolish tittle-tattle of such persons that the children receive their first impressions, while their minds are still pliant and unformed… And the parents themselves make no effort to train their little ones in goodness and self-control; they grow up in an atmosphere or laxity and pertness, in which they come gradually to lose all sense of shame, and respect both for themselves and for other people.

  7. 7
    Robert says:

    Did Tacitus really say “the good old days”? Jove bless his pagan little heart.

  8. 8
    Jake Squid says:

    Are you saying that parenting doesn’t change noticeably from generation to generation in US culture?

  9. 9
    Mandolin says:

    Depends. Are you saying that it’s a realistic description of “parents today” that they all over-protect their children and force them to take their sports too seriously, as compared to parents 30 years ago? Does this hold true when you vary by class? By race? By geography?

    Amazing what the words “suburban, white middle class” would have done to make the argument less silly.

  10. 10
    nobody.really says:

    I’ve been quite impressed with Amp’s guest posters. But to get Hesiod and Tacitus? That’s really something.

    I know some great quotes on this point from Socrates and Peter the Hermit — except that they are almost certainly apocryphal. So here are some quotes from the 1960s:

    Kids! I don’t know what’s wrong with these kids today!
    Kids! Who can understand anything they say?
    Kids! They are disobedient, disrespectful oafs!
    Noisy, crazy, dirty, lazy, loafers – and while we’re on the subject:
    Kids! You can talk and talk till your face is blue!
    Kids! But they still just do what they want to do!
    Why can’t they be like we were, perfect in every way?
    What’s the matter with kids today?

    Kids! I’ve tried to raise him the best I could
    Kids! Kids!
    Laughing, singing, dancing, grinning, morons! And while we’re on the subject:
    Kids! They are just impossible to control!
    Kids! With their awful clothes and their rock an’ roll!
    Why can’t they dance like we did? What’s wrong with Sammy Caine?
    What’s the matter with kids today?

    Lee Adams, 1960, from Bye Bye Birdie

    Dog’s got to bark, a mule’s got to bray.
    Soldiers must fight and preachers must pray.
    And children, I guess, must get their own way
    The minute that you say no.

    Why did the kids pour jam on the cat?
    Raspberry jam all over the cat?
    Why should the kids do something like that,
    When all that we said was no?

    My son was once afraid to swim; the water made him wince.
    Until I said he mustn’t swim: S’been swimmin’ ever since!

    Why did the kids put beans in their ears?
    No one can hear with beans in their ears.
    After a while the reason appears.
    They did it cause we said no.

    Your daughter brings a young man in, says ‘Do you like him, Pa?’
    Just say that he’s a fool and then you’ve got a son-in-law!

    Sure as the June comes right after May!
    Sure as the night comes right after day!
    You can be sure the devil’s to pay
    The minute that you say no.

    Make sure you never say… No!

    Tom Jones & Harvey Schmidt, 1960, from The Fantastics. The show’s premise – that children are so disrespectful, parents must forbid them to do the things parents want them to do – derives from the 1894 play Les Romanesques. So that’s a little pedigree.

  11. 11
    Mike says:

    Depends. Are you saying that it’s a realistic description of “parents today” that they all over-protect their children and force them to take their sports too seriously, as compared to parents 30 years ago? Does this hold true when you vary by class? By race? By geography?

    Amazing what the words “suburban, white middle class” would have done to make the argument less silly.

    While I understand that there’s a tendency to forget about the wide variety of experiences that’s out there, the conversation stemmed from talking about Boy Scouts. They are pretty much the epitome of structured play; the Boy Scouts ranks and earn badges for activities? Community service hours and Eagle Scout status are exactly the kind of college looking in 2nd grade attitude that Ron was describing.

    It’s hard for me to think of Boy Scouts as anything but overwhelmingly white, male, and middle class. Poking around I couldn’t really find any statistics to prove or disprove that notion. The closest I could come wassome images of the jamboree from GIS made the crowd look mostly, though not exclusively white.

  12. 12
    Jake Squid says:

    I would never say that all parents are overprotective and unnecessarily restrictive. I would say that, in general, this generation of parents is a lot more afraid of pedophiles and child abduction than parents 30 years ago. I would say that, in general, parents have a more structured schedule for their kids than parents 30 years ago did.

    Do I misremember or did the fear of child abduction by a stranger not even begin to become pervasive until Etan Patz disappeared? Follow that up with the Atlanta Child Murders and that fear really begins to spread.

    I feel unqualified to say if it varies by class, race or geography. In my own tiny sample, class and geography don’t seem to have anything to do with it. My experience leads me to think that the description is apt for more than white, suburban, middle class parents, though. In the absence of any studies on the matter, I don’t see how to conclusively determine it one way or the other. Given that, how do I go against my anecdata?

    I’ve seen it in both urban and suburban parents and I’ve seen it in economic classes ranging from the extremely wealthy to the working class. I’ve seen it in the near total elimination of trick-or-treaters of any age. I’ve seen it in the noticeable absence of kids playing on their own in the city and in suburbia.

    None of this means that all parents subscribe to this type of parenting. I certainly know some who don’t.

    The reason that I don’t think it’s limited to white, suburban, middle class parents is because that sort of parenting is encouraged by the current version of fear mongering in both pop culture and our mass media. Since we have several methods of communication that are a lot faster and a lot more pervasive (notably cable television which allows the exact same “news” broadcast to reach many more places today than in 1980) than those that existed during my childhood, I think that the idea of what is “proper parenting” can be implanted a lot faster and in a wider range of parents than in the past.

    I’m not sure how I would determine what classes/races/geographical locations generational changing of parenting is limited to. I don’t think that I’m equipped to do that.

  13. 13
    RonF says:

    the conversation stemmed from talking about Boy Scouts. They are pretty much the epitome of structured play; the Boy Scouts ranks and earn badges for activities? Community service hours and Eagle Scout status are exactly the kind of college looking in 2nd grade attitude that Ron was describing.

    Not if you run it right. There are Troops that are run such that the point of every activity is advancement. Those Troops are referred to as “Eagle mills”. There’s 8 methods to Scouting – Patrol Method, Adult Association, Youth Leadership, blah, blah. “Advancement” is one of them. Unfortunately it’s the only one that’s quantifiable, so that’s the one that parents looking for their kid to get into the college of their choice focus on. They see the purpose of Scouting to be their kid picking up the Eagle credential, and that’s it. It’s valuable, certainly – my son did it. But he did it because he wanted to, not because I was kicking his ass and calling him up every day at summer camp to see how he’d done in that day’s merit badge class (that kid went home in the middle of the week after a stomachache after about the 6th call).

    No, I tell the kids that I want them all to get First Class because that’s when you pretty much finish up all the camping/cooking/hiking/First Aid/swimming/etc. skills you need. But Eagle should be their personal decision. Eagle is no guarantee that you’re a good Scout and plenty of kids are good Scouts and never get Eagle (e.g., me).

    Personally, when I take the kids to camp I don’t sweat the advancement. I figure that an afternoon running around in the swamp catching frogs is more valuable than earning Basketry Merit Badge. I have found a number of parents disagree with me. I generally suggest that they find another Troop for their kid.

  14. 14
    RonF says:

    Jake, I’ve seen figures that say that actual incidence of child molestation are about the same now as they have been for decades. The difference is that back in the ’60′s and ’70′s when my Dad ran a Scout camp the thinking was that you hushed stuff like this up because a victim would be unable to avoid stigma. I’m not justifying that, but on that basis people didn’t hear about this much, so they didn’t think it happened much. Now every case is trumpeted throughout the media. It’s raised awareness, which is a good thing. But it’s also made people think that perverts are hiding around every corner.

  15. Speaking as a parent and as someone who has experience with kids and parents in both urban and suburban settings, the latter largely, though not overwhelmingly white and middle class, the former far more diverse in all kinds of ways, I have a lot of sympathy for the rant by RonF that gave rise to this thread. Like Mandolin, I would caution that making generalizations is, at best, unfair and inaccurate. For example, parents and children in rural areas probably have very different experiences and so, too, would the experiences of children and parents whose lives correspond pretty accurately to what Ron describes once you consider differences in class. (I am thinking simply that the kinds of “structured play” available to kids from relatively more affluent families can be radically different than that available to, say, working class kids.)

    Nonetheless, not only do I think that Jake is correct in what he says in this comment, but–even if we leave aside for the moment the question of how many parents and children actually fit the descriptions in both Ron’s and Jake’s comments–it does seem to me to be true that there is far more social and cultural pressure on parents to move in that direction in terms of how we deal with our children than there was, say, in the 1970s when I was my son’s age.

  16. 16
    leah says:

    It’s raised awareness, which is a good thing. But it’s also made people think that perverts are hiding around every corner.

    Which is particularly ironic because it’s pretty well documented that most sexual predators are/were known to the victim (and I admit here I fail to provide citation but I’m trying to finish up a busy work day). I’d say hypervigilance combined with rape myths are at play here. To borrow a concept, parents are more worried about the predator they don’t know than the predator they do know.

    But I don’t think this is an entirely new phenomenon. I, myself remember many “stranger danger” talks that occurred, oh let’s say 20-30 years ago, but nothing was said or done about acquaintances and family members. Awareness might have increased (I agree, a good thing) but nothing else changed.

  17. 17
    bean says:

    Coincidentally, I just attended a workshop on “working across the generations” (how to work with, attract, and retain people from all 4 of the generations currently in the workforce). One of the things that came out of the workshop was the idea that complaints about the younger generations go back to ancient times (as shown by the quotes in this thread).

    It’s true that not everyone in one generation will have the same lifestyle, beliefs, etc. Class, gender, race, ethnicity, etc. – not to mention individual personality differences – are all going to impact these things. Nonetheless, I do think that there are some commonalities that impact the majority of a generation and effect the way that generation of people work, think, behave, believe. Partly because what helps define generational characteristics are the large-scale events that are happening in the county/world during the formative years (8-18), many of which are going to be shared regardless of other background differences. And partly because, as Jake was alluding to, what happens in the larger society is reflected and sustained by the mass media and pop culture, and that does impact people from a wide range of racial/class/ethnic/gender differences.

    Today’s young children are being raised, primarily, by Gen Xers — those who can largely be defined by:
    • First generation of latch-key kids (and really, only generation — later there were “afterschool programs” and such)
    • First generation to have two working parents
    • Broken promises from parents and companies: divorce rates tripled, first ever lay-offs
    • World became a dangerous and scary place: AIDS (sex=death), Iran Hostage Crisis — largely seen/heard about with no adult supervision while seeing world developments on tv
    • First generation to be told they would not live up to previous generation
    • First generation to have “family of choice” – “family of origin” is peripheral (former less likely to betray than latter)
    • Extremely small generation sandwiched between 2 large, prominent generations – often ignored (sometimes called the “ignored generation,” the “forgotten generation,” or even the “new lost generation”)

    Gen Xers were the children of Boomers, who had to compete tooth and nail against their 80 million peers to get a toe-hold in the work force. They felt the impact of their parents work-centric lifestyle. Xers generally believe strongly in providing their children a safe, secure childhood that they felt they didn’t get. Combine that with a sense of an unsafe world (developed during formative years) and the wide-spread and immediate notification of each and every missing child alert, which makes it appear that the number of child abductions have dramatically increased, and you’ve got an environment ripe for overprotection. And, even those parents who aren’t inclined to be particularly overprotective themselves are being judged by other parents, and often feel that they have to submit to the larger belief system about what kids are allowed to do. Common theory in “generational studies” say that the next generation (those 10 and younger) are going to be the most overprotected generation ever (but also the most ethnically diverse, and among the most creative and artistic).

    Of course, not all of this can be blamed on Xers — it’s largely the later Boomers who have begat the Millenials, who are probably one of the most confident generations ever — largely because they have grown up being awarded for trying (every team who shows up gets a trophy), being told that they are the best, and who have parents who have shielded their kids from a lot of the hardships of the world. It is not uncommon for Millenials to bring their parents with them to job interviews (and to have their parents call to find out why they didn’t get the job). It’s largely the later Boomers who have become the “helicopter parents” of today (and this is not just a US phenomenon — in Sweden, they call them “curling parents”).

    Have the “younger generations” changed? Of course — but, in the vast majority of cases, the changes were brought about and created by the parents, usually the very same generation of people who are complaining so loudly about the younger generation.

  18. 18
    bean says:

    But I don’t think this is an entirely new phenomenon. I, myself remember many “stranger danger” talks that occurred, oh let’s say 20-30 years ago, but nothing was said or done about acquaintances and family members. Awareness might have increased (I agree, a good thing) but nothing else changed.

    Stranger Danger is probably one of the most dangerous things to come out of the 80′s. It created a false sense of fear (only about .01% of child abductions are by strangers), and taught kids to fear strangers — even when it’s those strangers that could protect someone in a dangerous situation. Not to mention the false sense of safety it created — family and friends are statistically the most likely people to harm a child.

  19. 19
    chingona says:

    even if we leave aside for the moment the question of how many parents and children actually fit the descriptions in both Ron’s and Jake’s comments–it does seem to me to be true that there is far more social and cultural pressure on parents to move in that direction in terms of how we deal with our children than there was, say, in the 1970s when I was my son’s age.

    This sounds right to me. I had a fairly laid back upbringing with a lot of opportunities for independence, partly out of necessity, with my parents’ work schedules and all. I’d like to bring that same approach to my own parenting, but I also feel a lot of social pressure to be more protective. It’s kind of weird to be at the playground and sitting on the bench and every other parent is following about two feet behind their kid. You start to wonder if maybe you’re the one with the problem, if you’re actually neglectful or something.

    And part of that pressure is the knowledge that if anything were ever to happen to my kid while I wasn’t there, I would be blamed. And maybe not just blamed socially but blamed criminally.

    (And for reference, I’m in my early 30s, so I went to elementary school during the height of the stranger danger/kidnapping/ritual Satanic abuse scares of the 1980s, though my parents didn’t go in for it much. A funny story about that: I remember one day when my dad was unemployed, which happened a lot, he walked up to the end of our block to meet me as I came home from the bus stop. The kids walking with me from the bus stop pointed out the scruffy looking guy at the corner of my street and warned to be careful of that man. He looked like a kidnapper.)

  20. 20
    mythago says:

    What’s “these days”? Any time after 1955? I remember getting the ‘stranger danger’ lectures as a little kid, and that was in the early 1970s.

    I also don’t remember those ‘unsupervised’ days with the halcyon glow RonF does. I spent a good chunk of my childhood in one of those Nice White Suburbs. On non-school days, the stay-at-home moms threw the kids out the door first thing in the morning so they wouldn’t be underfoot. We didn’t have the tiresomely caricatured overprotective, smothering parents in The Good Old Days, but we did have parents who didn’t give a shit unless you happened to bleed on their nice clean carpets!. (Remember, we’re talking about a time when it was considered pretty normal to drink a few beers and drive, and when seatbelts on your kids was optional.) Based on what the honor students at my school were doing, the attitude about kids using drugs and booze was pretty much “don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t fuck up your grade point average.”

  21. 21
    Doug S. says:

    I oppose the Boy Scouts because they discriminate based on religious beliefs. Specifically, atheists are not allowed to join. We’re America’s most hated minority, after all. (I once ended up getting in trouble at Scout Camp because I heckled the chaplain.)

  22. 22
    Kai Jones says:

    You never hear about the wonders of unstructured, self-directed time from the kids who were hurt by it (like being beat up by the neighborhood bullies). You never hear about the importance of doing things on your own from kids who didn’t get enough parental attention. You never hear about the pleasure of kids playing their own games in the empty lot from kids who stumbled over a drunk man who grabbed them in that empty lot.

    bean wrote:

    • First generation of latch-key kids (and really, only generation — later there were “afterschool programs” and such)
    • First generation to have two working parents
    • Broken promises from parents and companies: divorce rates tripled, first ever lay-offs
    • World became a dangerous and scary place: AIDS (sex=death), Iran Hostage Crisis — largely seen/heard about with no adult supervision while seeing world developments on tv

    Yeah, that doesn’t match my experience. I was a latch-key kid in the 1960s. My parents both worked in the 1960s; my mother’s parents both worked in the 1940s and 1950s. My parents divorced about 1967 and my mother’s mother divorced in 1960. The world was a pretty scary place in the 1950s and 60s–duck and cover, anyone? Cuban missile crisis? I remember the Kent State murder (I was 8) and thinking I’d never go to college because soldiers would shoot me.

    And I’m 48: are most young children now being raised by people my age? I have adult children and 2 small grandchildren!

  23. 23
    bean says:

    Well, of course there will *always* be individuals that are not part of the larger norm. There have always been women (poor women, women of color) who worked outside the home — but that doesn’t change the fact that there was a much larger influx of women into the workplace in the 1970s, and that particular influx greatly influenced the larger society. Were there latch-key kids before the late 60′s/early 70s? OF COURSE! But it wasn’t the majority of kids — it wasn’t the norm that it became later (just like having after school programs became the norm much later, even though there were a few programs here and there before that).

    The fact that there are exceptions to the norms doesn’t mean the norms don’t matter. Yes, the exceptions must be acknowledged, but acknowledging them doesn’t mean ignoring how and when they are different.

    Yes, there were scary times in the 50s and 60s — but *most* children were not watching these things unravel on TV without adult supervision — these things do have an impact on development and belief systems when they are happening during the formative years.

    And if you’re 48, then you are a Baby Boomer, not an Xer, so no, young children aren’t being raised by people your age (on the whole).

  24. 24
    Tapetum says:

    As a complete aside – I will note that what counts as “spoiling” can also change from generation to generation. My FIL, a man who by all accounts was massively spoiled by his mother (among other things she ironed his underwear), has accused me of spoiling my boys because I pick them up from school rather than having them walk/take the bus home. Because in his day, everyone walked by themselves basically from kindergarten on. My kids’ elementary school won’t even release the k-2 kids until the parent is in sight. Failing to pick them up would have resulted in being checked out by CPS.

  25. 25
    Mhaille says:

    I live in New Jersey, which seems to be pretty much ground zero for overprotective ninnies.
    Some examples:
    You remember CITs, from summer camps? The idea is to take pre-teens and teenagers and give them some responsibility over younger campers, so they can learn leadership and so forth. In NJ, they are not allowed to supervise younger campers without an adult present. Yeeeeeeeeah.

    On a more personal note, when my son was 10 (considered old enough by his school and the YMCA to walk home alone) I had to run in and pay for his after school program. He asked to stay in the car so he could finish a chapter in his book. When I came back out, I had a police officer in my face about what a god-awful irresponsible parent I was, because there are Bad People Everywhere, donchaknow. I wound up with a “local ordinance violation” and a fine, because some kindly local person dropped a dime on me. The cop even said I was lucky he hadn’t called DYFS.

    So, yeah. Even for those of us who want to give their kids a free-range childhood, the pressure to conform to overprotective standards is out there, and it has teeth.

  26. 26
    RonF says:

    First generation to have two working parents

    I was born in 1952. My mother did not work when I was a child, but she started back full-time when I was a junior in High School and had worked part-time before then.

    You never hear about the wonders of unstructured, self-directed time from the kids who were hurt by it (like being beat up by the neighborhood bullies).

    Yes you have. Because that would be me. My older brothers’ response was to teach me how to defend myself.

    On non-school days, the stay-at-home moms threw the kids out the door first thing in the morning so they wouldn’t be underfoot.

    Yep, that’s about right.

    We didn’t have the tiresomely caricatured overprotective, smothering parents in The Good Old Days, but we did have parents who didn’t give a shit unless you happened to bleed on their nice clean carpets!

    Which is why Mom had us call her outside if major medical care was needed. Minor medical care we were expected to take care of ourselves after the age of about 8.

    Mom may have been an outlier, though. She was brought up on a farm during the Depression that in her youth still occasionally used draft animals. Mom once stitched up a cut on my forehead herself when I was 6 with needle and thread instead of calling a doctor. When the doctor came (yes, I can remember when doctors made house calls) he peeled up the bandaids (red, yellow and blue), took a look, stuck them back down and told Mom “I’ll be back in a week to take those out.”

    Under the heading of “shit you could do with kids when I was a kid you can’t do now”:

    I’m a summer camp counselor in training, age 14. One day me and my 20 colleagues were told “Report to the rear of the dining hall after lunch in swim trunks”. Said dining hall was set into the side of a hill, with the front door at the top of the hill facing away from the lake and the bottom facing towards the lake but screened from it by trees. Following orders we found two adults, one holding a large knife, also in swim trunks. There was also a pole lashed horizontally between two trees, a pot of boiling water and a crate of live chickens. The adult with the knife reached into the crate, removed a chicken, tied it to the pole, lopped off it’s head, waited until it stopped flapping, dipped it in the boiling water, plucked it and eviscerated it – pulling out an egg and loudly proclaiming that he was saving it for tomorrow’s breakfast.

    Then he handed me the knife. We all took a turn slaughtering a chicken. Afte we were done it was through the trees and into the lake to clean up. The camp ran a chicken barbecue every second weekend and these chickens were destined for that. The motivation was never explained. I presume it was a team building concept. But while a few of us were squeamish, nobody demurred. Nobody’s parent had a complaint. And we all learned a useful skill and where our chicken dinners came from.

    If I tried this with my kids these days I’d end up arrested. I imagine that at least half if not more of the families would pull their kids out of the Troop. But why?

  27. 27
    RonF says:

    My kids’ elementary school won’t even release the k-2 kids until the parent is in sight.

    In my childhood town bus service was not provided for any family that lived closer than 1.5 miles to school. None of those kids got driven unless it was actively snowing. The young kids would walk in groups.

    In my present school district there are still a number of kids who walk or ride bikes to school. But there are numerous others of all ages who are driven, to the point that they had to redesign the school driveway so that backed-up minivans wouldn’t block the street. It’s not entirely clear how many of those kids live within walking distance but won’t walk (if they COULDN’T walk they’d get bus service) and how many of them are just too cool to ride a school bus.

  28. 28
    mythago says:

    If I tried this with my kids these days I’d end up arrested.

    That’s funny – people in the next county over have farms, and their kids are involved in raising and slaughtering the animals. One young woman I know, a vegetarian, jokes about how her cattle-raising parents refused to allow her to name the cows. Nobody gets arrested for that. Where do you live, downtown Manhattan?

    Oh, I’m sorry. I was harshing on your rant about how coddled kids are these days and how in the magical times of our own childhood, any kid willing to invest five minutes in learning to put up his dukes had nothing to fear from silly old bullies.

    Don’t get me started on “free-range parenting”. There’s letting go of being overprotective of your kids, and then there’s latching onto the latest yuppie Mommier Than Thou trend.

  29. Pingback: Basket of Kisses | Kids these days

  30. 29
    Mhaille says:

    Since when is encouraging your kids to become independent adults a trend, mythago? I’ve been using that term to describe my own childhood for 15 years now, and I had no idea it’s the bicker du jour of the mommywebs.
    I have been slackening the leash gradually, with my best judgement of what each kid’s relative maturity level is, and trying to give them opportunities to try and solve problems themselves, including failing from time to time rather than swooping in. I offer them responsibility on a trial basis and watch to see how they handle it. And now I should stop doing that, because it’s holier than thou and trendy?
    As I said, I live in a state where everyone knows better than me what my child is capable of, to the point where I was *fined* for letting a 10 year old sit by himself in a car on a cool spring day for 5 minutes. Whatever you want to call it, I object like crazy to that mentality, and I am limited in my ability to push back without risking very real sanctions.
    You want to get upset about something? Get upset about how everyone feels like they have a right to step in and adjust someone’s childrearing to suit their preferences.

  31. 30
    Elusis says:

    I was hanging out with some new-ish friends last night and our talk turned to our school days. We all had stories to tell of being bullied that included physical and emotional abuse, and in every case, adults around us did little or nothing to intervene. Most of the time we were blamed for “provoking it.”

    The good old days weren’t so good for us, I guess.

  32. 31
    mythago says:

    You want to get upset about something? Get upset about how everyone feels like they have a right to step in and adjust someone’s childrearing to suit their preferences.

    Oh. You mean like insisting that parents (i.e., mothers) These Days are helicopter mommies, smothering their children, paranoid and overprotective and need to be shut out of being involved in, say, their kids’ schooling because in Those Days we didn’t do that?

    I’m very familiar with the type of mentality that panics over seeing a 10-year-old reading quietly in a car. I don’t think the solution to that is to run very hard in the other direction. It’s just more blaming and mommier-than-thou game-playing.

  33. 32
    Mhaille says:

    You need to respond to what I’m saying, and not the thread in general, if you want to quote me.
    Where do I say that everyone today is an overprotective ninny?

  34. 33
    Jake Squid says:

    Oh. You mean like insisting that parents (i.e., mothers) These Days are helicopter mommies, smothering their children, paranoid and overprotective and need to be shut out of being involved in, say, their kids’ schooling because in Those Days we didn’t do that?

    Other than RonF, who is saying these things?

  35. 34
    acm says:

    man, the quotes that started this thread made my day, but the comments that followed showed pretty much no perspective or sense of humor. yes! the end has been nigh for thousands of years! get a grip!

    sigh. nothing brings out the experts like Other People’s Children.

  36. 35
    Jake Squid says:

    yes! the end has been nigh for thousands of years! get a grip!

    acm,

    Who is saying the end is nigh, blah, blah, blah?

  37. 36
    mythago says:

    Jake @34, well obviously Ron, but “helicopter parenting” wasn’t a phrase I just invented all by myself right now.

  38. 37
    RonF says:

    mythago, I live in the suburbs of Chicago. And yeah – fifty miles (hm, or maybe 100 miles) away from me there’s probably kids who have done this at least once in their lives and no one’s thought twice about it. By no means do I represent that the community I live in is the uniform situation across the U.S. All I know is that when I tell this story the kids’ moms universally are revolted at the thought. Then I go down to the Illinois State Fair in Springfield and I see plenty of kids who do stuff like this commonly.

    But in suburban or urban areas I think I’m pretty spot on as to what the reactions are.

    It’s funny. PETA cobbled together a couple of kids to front for them and publicly petitioned the BSA to get rid of Fishing merit badge (one of the most popular MBs at summer camp) because one of the requirements is to catch two fish and cook one of them. It’s the cruelty to the fish, you see. I guess none of them ever looked at the requirements for Animal Science or Fish and Wildlife Management merit badges.

  39. 38
    RonF says:

    Jake, my son graduated from college recently and has been out in the job market – which just recently ended up quite successfully for him, BTW. But in reading up on it I’ve seen reports from HR managers that they’ve been facing a whole new phenomena the last few years – parents who have been getting directly involved in their kids’ job searches, to the extent of contacting HR departments themselves for their kids, arranging interviews, inquiring as to why their kids didn’t get hired, etc., etc. That’s new. “Helicopter parents” is indeed not a phrase that either mythago or I invented. Try doing a search on the term and see what you come up with.

  40. 39
    Jake Squid says:

    I was asking mythago who, in this thread, was saying things like:

    Oh. You mean like insisting that parents (i.e., mothers) These Days are helicopter mommies, smothering their children, paranoid and overprotective and need to be shut out of being involved in, say, their kids’ schooling because in Those Days we didn’t do that?

    It’s obvious that the “in this thread” part of my question wasn’t clear enough. But I wasn’t referring to the world at large since the world at large isn’t involved in this thread. It looked to me like mythago was saying that there were multiple people on this thread saying stuff like the quote above and I wasn’t seeing it.

    I’m not sure why either of you thought I was questioning the term “helicopter parenting.” I don’t think anything I wrote gives the slightest suggestion that I was doing so.

    I’ve seen reports from HR managers that they’ve been facing a whole new phenomena the last few years – parents who have been getting directly involved in their kids’ job searches, to the extent of contacting HR departments themselves for their kids, arranging interviews, inquiring as to why their kids didn’t get hired, etc., etc.

    That’s just weird. IMO, it’s a failure of the HR department if they deal with the applicant’s parents at all. Sure, you may not be able to tell on the phone that it isn’t the applicant setting up the interview, but you should damn well know that you can’t discuss the hiring decision with somebody who isn’t the applicant.

  41. 40
    RonF says:

    Me, if I was in the HR department and got a phone call like that I’d be very polite. Then I’d get off the phone and put the kid’s name down on the “Do Not Hire” list.

  42. 41
    nobody.really says:

    Me, if I was in the HR department and got a phone call like that I’d be very polite. Then I’d get off the phone and put the kid’s name down on the “Do Not Hire” list.

    Never thought of that. Next time I’m competing with someone for a job, I’ll be sure to call up the HR department while claiming to be my competitor’s daddy!