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Are parents coddling their kids too much?

Uploaded: Jan 1, 2019
Consider the following: Teens, the past couple of years, are complaining more and more that they are stressed out, overworked, and feel bad whenever they are criticized in any way. At the same time, many of them, especially those in college, object to listening to people they disagree with because what they hear “hurts” them.

Schools and parents are responding to these complaints. For example, some professors are told that they should warn students before a lecture if it may contain topics that students may feel uncomfortable hearing about, and if so, can skip that class. “Stressed” students can spend time in “safe” rooms, with snuggly couches and with cuddly toys – in high schools and in colleges.

More significant, according to a Wall Street Journal Dec. 12 article, “School districts across the country are banning homework, forbidding it on certain days or just not grading it, in response to parents who complain both of overload and some experts who say too much can be detrimental.” A new policy in Ridgefield Public Schools in Ridgefield, Conn., place nightly time limits on homework for most students.” The average number of hours a week spent on homework by highs schoolers in 2016 was 7.5; the K-8 level was 4.7. Is this enough? Too much?

Lafayette Parish School System in Louisiana told teachers not to grade homework for grades 2-12, starting this school year. “The goal of the changes is to give students more time to read, sleep and spend time with family,” superintendents say. Indeed, in Palo Alto we have two school board members who worry about students being overstressed.

The big questions: Will our kids be better and more well-rounded if they don’t do their homework? Or has our society changed so much that we now have a culture of coddling our kids? Is this due to the decades-long practice of helicoptering kids? Is this good or bad?

On Michael Krasny’s NPR show Tuesday, there was a discussion on the oversensitivity some kids claim they are experiencing. They resent being asked where they come from because that makes them uncomfortable like they don’t belong. I asked a 12-year-old boy originally from the Middle East but living for a decade in Menlo Park if this was true, and he said yes. “It tells me they think I am different.” Yale protestors formally demanded the removal of two professors because they were upset by an email one of them wrote. Berkeley students strongly objected to one conservative speaker so school authorities then decided to cancel, fearing a riot. What is happening to free speech in our universities?

There was a fascinating story in The New York Times recently on “The Relentlessness of Modern Parenting.” It was the second most-read article of the week. While it described so well the anxieties many kids today face in growing up, it also stated that because of peer pressure or the need to have one’s kids succeed, parents today spend considerably more time being around their children day in and day out, 24x7, since the time they are born until beyond college graduation -- much more than stay-at-home mothers did in the 1970s.

I truly feel sorry for the tremendous self-imposed task parents do have today to try to make sure their kids are growing up the right way. It's hard. Yet the article concludes there’s no data on whether being with one’s kids all the time, and hovering over them as good helicopter parents do, is better or worse for kids. That’s the sad part about the article. No data. So is the hovering parental approach all wrong?

My generation did things differently. We got babysitters to go out on weekend nights, never thought of bringing our kids to a party except on Thanksgiving and Christmas. We let our kids go out and play whenever. “Just be home by 5 o’clock,” were their instructions. I always thought my role was to love and correct my children; today’s parents are made to feel that something is wrong with them if they’re not with their children all the time, according to the NYT article.

Today the peer pressure parents experience is overwhelming. One of my neighbors told me that one day she let her 7-year-old walk a half block alone from the nearby park to her home. A woman across the street called to criticize her asking, “What kind of parent are you letting your child walk home alone?” Another parent said she allowed her 9-year-old daughter to take the dog for a walk down the block and she got two calls from her neighbors complaining about the danger she was putting her child in.

I wonder and worry what will happen when these teens get into their thirties. Will they be able to handle the complexities and requirements of their jobs as well as everyday life? Will they be hurt over any criticism about their work or what they are doing? Will they be so self-centered that all that matters are their feelings, not anyone else’s?

I certainly hope not.

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Comments

 +   6 people like this
Posted by Ringing in the New Year with “Kids These Days”, a resident of University South,
on Jan 1, 2019 at 3:32 pm

Glad you have bad takes on things other than housing. Not being a jerk to other people and maintaining mental health are good goals. Kids are kids and won't necessarily have all the right ideas (trigger warning, for instance, are a bad idea), but their intentions to treat themselves and others with respect are admirable.

You congratulate your generation, despite its measurable failings. You are handing GenZ a dying planet and keeping millennials in poverty. Spare me. I'm looking forward to GenZ coming into adulthood. They seem like a kind and politically effective bunch of kids.


 +   15 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jan 2, 2019 at 9:39 am

Dianna, you have hit the nail on the head.

This is not just a Palo Alto issue but world wide. Jordan Peterson writes and speaks about it and many of his followers are young people who have been raised by parents who have never let them prepare for adulthood.

Reading the thread about the Gunn "back entrance" shows that parents feel it is their right to drive their children to school and must be accommodated to do so. One of their excuses seems to be that it is the only time they have to spend with their children each day! How sad is that! In my generation it was dinner time when we all sat down each day around the table, eating the same food, and granted my Dad always had a newspaper and Mom had to finish by the time she could watch her tv shows, but we did it.

Parenting involves taking time with children, but also involves teaching children how to be ready for adulthood. If young teens are still treated like 10 year olds by over-protected parents, they will arrive at college with no idea of how to find their way somewhere on public transport or how to buy bandaids in the local drugstore. I know of college age kids who come home for breaks and parents have made dental, doctor, hair, etc. appointments and take them out to buy stock up underwear and socks because these college age students have never been taught or seemingly allowed to do these simple tasks for themselves.

Yes I worry about the next generation as adults. They are protected from adult preparedness and they are protected from being "offended" by ideas that are different from their own. I actually wonder if these ideas that are their own are actually their own anyway or just what they have been told by parents or school teachers who are pushing their agenda. Teen years are for being presented with lots of opposing ideas. They are for learning how to think, not what to think.

Teen years are also for making mistakes and learning from them. Nowadays unfortunately, teen mistakes are carried on into later life and there is no escape. Personally, I am quite pleased some of the mistakes I made as a teenager are buried deep. That is exactly where they should remain and should not be used against me in a job interview or political campaign.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by iz cold outside!, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Jan 2, 2019 at 11:10 am

When was the last generation of elders that thought the current generation of parents were NOT coddling their kids too much?

I can only speak to the last three or four, and they ALL thought the current parents were coddling their kids too much.

Just now, we have social media and youtube 'stars' making a quick buck off of it. Come to think of it, when I was a kid I did have to walk to Gunn in the snow, uphill, both ways....

;-)


 +   10 people like this
Posted by Annette, a resident of College Terrace,
on Jan 2, 2019 at 2:41 pm

I think Diana has presented a topic that warrants public attention and good discussion. Our communities may not be as safe as they were in the "Leave it to Beaver" days of yesteryear, but criticizing a parent for letting a child walk a couple of blocks alone says more about the critic than the parent who is allowing a child to learn how to be independent. It tells me that the critic is scared of society. That's just plain sad to me.

Little kids and teens are not a part of my daily life but my sense of those born this century is that they are very capable in ways that were not even considerations when Boomers were growing up but not as self-sufficient or independent as they arguably need to be - probably because the world is much more complicated and hostile and there's more to protect children from. Example: Boomers never had to worry about cyber bullying or on-line personas, or getting hacked or impersonated. Schoolyard problems were usually witnessed and they didn't have the 24/7 stage of opportunity that social media provides. And let's not forget that the kids "lucky" enough to grow up here are being nurtured in the womb of innovation and entrepreneurship. Whether from within or their parents or some other source, kids here do live in a success-oriented sort of pressure cooker. I'll bet it is as daunting as it is enthralling.

Thanks for opening the discussion, Diana.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Midtown,
on Jan 2, 2019 at 5:16 pm

Has anyone mentioned technology in this thread?

As an older milennial who grew up in Palo Alto, while my parents were rather spoiling and overprotective, I feel like they aren't to blame nearly as much as the impact of technology: computers/smartphones/the internet have had a severe impact on youth and how we develop and how we evolve, far more than any kind of parental style.

The parents themselves are getting caught up in technology. It has occupied and distracted us to such an extent that we can't even imagine life without smartphones.

So this is more of an evolutionary/technology problem than a parenting problem, because the parents themselves are affected and their own parenting is influenced by it.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by iz cold outside!, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Jan 2, 2019 at 7:14 pm

>> the "Leave it to Beaver" days of yesteryear

As much as I wish I had a '57 Chevy, etc.., I'd never transport a kid in one these days. The lack of safety in those vehicles (think: just the windshield glass killed a lot of kids every year) is amazing.

In 1957, hundreds of thousands of kids got polio; last year - 22 did. Twenty-two, worldwide.

And how wonderful were the lily-white "Leave it to Beaver" years for children of color? Grand, I'm sure.

Yes, there are challenges today, but, c'mon!! Uphill, both ways, I tells ya!


 +   11 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jan 2, 2019 at 8:42 pm

Cold Outside.

I am highly amused by your anecdote of having to walk to Gunn in the snow, uphill, both ways. Of course we all remember the horrors of the past that we had to suffer at the hands of our parents back in the days of yore.

Saying that, my father made me change a tire, check tire pressure and add air, check the oil and water levels before he allowed me to drive a car.

I had to use a bus schedule to go to the movies and not miss the last bus home and if I did I needed to know how to use a payphone to call home for a ride (and a lecture).

I had to be home for meals unless I had a good excuse to miss one. I had a curfew, an allowance and if I needed more money I had to earn it by doing extra chores either for my parents or others. I was expected to make my own bed and take my turn to do dishes and take out trash.

I didn't get a trophy for turning up or just because everyone on the team got a trophy. We kept score in sports and sometimes we celebrated when we won or shared our disappointment when we lost. We often lost and we learned how to deal with it. I was sometimes a winner but quite often I was a loser and not just a regular loser but came in last. I knew my strengths and I knew my weaknesses, and I discovered them by trial and error.

I was also taught in school that I could have my own opinion provided I could support it with substantial reasoning.

All these things taught me independence, self reliance and gave me the ability to solve my own problems. I am just concerned that young people today are not being expected to do the equivalent things of today to give them the right sort of life experiences that will help them become productive adults.

How many today are told to "stand up straight with shoulders back", or to "clean your own room" if you want to make a difference in the world.

Instead, I see as Dianna writes instances of being afraid of having feelings hurt or being "offended". None of these are to do with being compassionate, kind or politically effective, and yes we have moved on in respect to medical advances practically wiping out polio and chicken pox and human rights. But while we can sing praises for society doing this right, we have to ask if helicopter parenting is an advance or not?


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Hopeful educator, a resident of Professorville,
on Jan 2, 2019 at 8:55 pm

Diana is asking the right questions about parenting and some questionable school practices. I speak as an elder who has not been a parent, but has had lots of contact with students over the years in the classroom. While it has been possible to see and appreciate young people with refreshing ideas to bring change to the world with positive needed policies, it was also true to remember those individuals who rose above the others in their actions and sincere and active compassion for those whose lives were impacted by disease, inequalities, disasters, wars and unusual challenges in areas beyond the local. They were rare. The coddling was apparent in many and especially more noticeable in families familiar to this writer, but I have not yet lost faith in the potential good of our younger folk.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Schooled but not Educated, a resident of Midtown,
on Jan 3, 2019 at 8:04 pm

"The average number of hours a week spent on homework by highs schoolers in 2016 was 7.5; the K-8 level was 4.7. Is this enough? Too much?"

I am not exaggerating, my NIGHTLY homework load in high school was 7-8 hours: 7 PM to 2-3 AM, occasioned and enforced by written assignments that had to be handed in daily. College was a huge relief. Where were these reformers when I needed them?


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Peter poper, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jan 4, 2019 at 9:43 am

Thanks for proving my point, diane. You removed my comment regarding your complaints about free speech by saying you should talk to your boss bill Johnson. Did bill order you to remove my posting? Did bill himself remove my comment. Why not just post an answer? Either way, though as bill's lackey and bill himself have proven my point.


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Respect Autonomy, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jan 4, 2019 at 6:04 pm

@Resident,
"reading the thread about the Gunn "back entrance" shows that parents feel it is their right to drive their children to school and must be accommodated to do so. One of their excuses seems to be that it is the only time they have to spend with their children each day!"

Seriously? That's what you got from a discussion about a neighborhood traffic problems resulting from the district and city assuming they could take over a quiet segment of a neighborhood that doesn't face the school, as its back entrance, in order to avoid planning for the traffic on campus, at the front entrance? I think your post highlights the kind of warped ways people can twist what others say when they have an agenda. What IS your agenda?

Going back to 19th century literature, and probably before, you can see people attacking parents for how they choose to raise their children, for "mollycoddling" them, boys on the mother's apron strings (how long has it been since we've had aprons?), what is this but another version of spare the rod spoil the child, i.e., you think you know better how other people should choose to live their lives from the barest of most superficial non-information about them?

I think there were many circumstances in the discussion you listed, by example, such as children with special needs, family needs, etc, but I'll take the bait. What if that person's child was seriously depressed and that time, right when the child first needed to let go after holding it together in school, was in fact the only time they had to talk? I know of at least two cases like that, which in this district can be life and death. Is the problem that people are mollycoddling their children, or that people who have an agenda, such as power in the educational sphere or a book they want to sell, find it easy to twist things and blame parents for everything til Tuesday?

You hired babysitters? In my father's day, they dealt with the dangers of the world by bearing extra children assuming a lot of them would die before adolescence. Many did. Absolutely no mollycoddling. My dad would be the last one to judge other people for their choices now. Sometimes it seems like the people who had the most lucky breaks in their own lives are the ones doing the harshest judging of others.

Why would standing up against homework so that there are boundaries to the school day be "mollycoddling" children? Diana, do you think that school and mindnumbing homework is the only way kids can learn, much less develop personally, and that people in school should have control over what students do every minute of their lives after school, too? This is not 1950, when there was no internet, no Khan Academy, no robotics clubs, no ability to access the whole of human knowledge at the touch of a keystroke. There is a tremendous opportunity cost if children are forced to do homework every moment of their lives, and to assuming that if they are not they are being "mollycoddled". How is assuming that putting students more under the thumb of demonstrably outdated 19th century Prussian model education practices somehow better for their independence?


"I was also taught in school that I could have my own opinion provided I could support it with substantial reasoning."

Our nation is suffering the negative effects of people who think that just because they can rationalize something, they must be right. And therefore they should be able to judge other people and hold sway over their lives.


I think if you want kids to be independent, start by giving them more control over their learning -- the WHOLE DAY, not just after school. D-Tech High school has been operating by customizing education for its students -- if the school doesn't teach something the children want to learn, the kids get to leave early and go take the class at home or at another institution. Students have much more control of and responsibility in their school day. The way the whole education is set up is to stop making education the constant rats in a maze testing and regurgitating of information, and make it more about independent learning. One of their goals (that they usually achieve) is to not give kids homework. Is that mollycoddling, or does the interpretation of whether it is depend on the students being treated like independent beings for the majority of their education and SCHOOL DAY, too?

Context is key. I think these discussions tend to rely on a few apocryphal anecdotes, inflamed by those like @resident who just love to have a reason to throw stones at their fellow man.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jan 4, 2019 at 7:13 pm

I have to come back to place my position against what has been said by the above poster. Some of the things he has attributed to me and some to Diana, but regardless, some of the points have to be commented on.

Yes, there are a lot of comments on the Gunn thread and at least one parent said that being able to drive their student to school was their right and should be accommodated. I am not sure how that parent imagines that so many parents can sit and wait at a drop off zone for a teen to walk out of school or that there can be some arrangement for every parent to drop off in a 15 minute window. There is just not enough space for that to be done. There may be reasons, but perhaps the teen themselves are actually a bit embarrassed at having their parent there and that may be the root of the depression. Who knows? And really, is that the only method you can think of to help a depressed teen?

The community is suffering from this and I have commented on that angle in the thread, but this blog is about coddling teens, not neighborhood traffic.

I'm not sure what 19th century literature you are speaking of as you give no examples. Mother's apron strings have not been mentioned by anyone other than yourself as far as I recollect.

Not sure what your comment about hiring babysitters is all about.

Homework discussion is valid, but at the same time so much of what teens do is busy work and so much more could be done in school. Having teens cook for french homework, or make posters for history, is not a valuable learning tool but just classroom decoration and partying excuses. I think homework at elementary level is probably not worth the effort and would say that children of this age should be out in their spare time, looking for worms, playing in the park playgrounds and getting scuffed knees from riding bikes and skateboards to get there. Extra tutoring particularly in Palo Alto is an epidemic and the teachers use it to make themselves look wonderful taking pride in how few As they grant rather than taking upon themselves that every student who is worthy of an A gets one and comes out thinking they have done well, rather than that they are not good enough.

Lastly, I think everyone should be able to have their own opinion, which they have thought through themselves and are able to support it. I didn't say that they should be out screaming at others who hold different opinions on college campuses, or closing down invited speakers who dare to say something different than the violent thugs who won't let them speak. If you think that every student should come out of school thinking exactly the same thing then that is a society in which I would want to live. We must allow our teens to formulate their own opinions, teaching them how to think not what to think. If you have problems with people who think differently from you then you have a closed mind and a narrow perspective. Being able to discuss from different positions is debate and society thrives on it. Calling names and shouting down rational debate is something that is very prevalent in this country and not allowing sensible discussion by listening in case you hear something that teaches you something you do not know as well as having your own opinion heard is necessary to grow. Otherwise, there may just be parrots graduating from our schools and colleges.

Context may well be key, but reading and listening to learn from what is being written or said should be done thoughtfully, before opening your mouth and putting your foot in it.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Respect Autonomy, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jan 4, 2019 at 11:47 pm

@ Resident,
"There may be reasons, but perhaps the teen themselves are actually a bit embarrassed at having their parent there and that may be the root of the depression. "

Seriously, you are blaming clinical depression of local teens on their parents dropping them off at school? Seriously? Now I understand why you are having such difficulty understanding that other people may have reasons for leading their own lives and making their own choices to best deal with their own needs without genuflecting first to you.

"I'm not sure what 19th century literature you are speaking of as you give no examples. Mother's apron strings have not been mentioned by anyone other than yourself as far as I recollect."

"tied to one's mother's apron strings" is an idiom, a common phrase, that according to Oxfordreference.com, originated in the 16th century. My point was that this phrase was yet more evidence that petty gossip and self-righteous criticizing of others' childrearing is nothing new.

Given how poorly you reacted to examples intended to help you exercise empathy from your high horse, I'm not sure giving you examples of 19th century literature that deals with criticism of parenting is all that constructive, but you asked:
Theories on child rearing and education go back to Locke and Rousseau in the 17th century. Getting into other people's faces and criticizing parents, especially mothers, is and old sport. This little thing called "misogyny" does not end at the boundaries of motherhood. Now as then the issue is really power in our society. Anne Bronte's Tenant of Wildfell Hall just came up on one of the streaming services - much of the story (film and book) involves how the main character is criticized and feared for her choices as a a mother, specifically, that she is might raise an unmanly sissy for trying to protect him and smooth his path in life (from his profligate and alcoholic father). The book was written in the middle of the 19th century.

I have little else to say about your post except that you should read the last two paragraphs you wrote and listen to yourself (then maybe actually listen to others and tone down your caustic judgmentalism).


My point to Diana is that the discussion of whether parents coddle their kids goes way, way back, and then as now, it was about interpersonal power, especially against women. Shaming other people whether you know enough about them or not (usually not) in such spheres is usually about telling them what to do, controlling them, getting the upper hand, feeling superior, terrorizing them.

People who are genuinely interested in children's independence should be taking a harder look at the Prussian model of education that is so embraced in our school district -- it was literally designed to create compliant workers and soldiers for the industrial revolution, and was brought here for its usefulness at inculcating compliance. I think a lot of what is being called helicoptering comes from behavior of parents who are uppity enough to to try to cope with or enough combat the negative influences of this overwhelming cultural influence. The Prussian model is only 150 years old, and is arguably no longer relevant, yet in this very expensive district, families have no choices. It's their way or the highway. I believe in respecting the autonomy other others, and in taking responsibility for understanding and creating better options if you don't like the outcomes of those choices.





 +   3 people like this
Posted by Respect Autonomy, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jan 5, 2019 at 1:33 am

@Diana,
It's always good to hear the other side. Do an internet search for myths about helicopter parenting.

Here's a Psychology Today article:
The Myth of the Helicopter Parent: Indulgent parents of young adults may actually promote their development

An even more thorough article:
Web Link
Especially read the paragraph that starts, "That NSSE survey, for example, didn't find a lot of helicopter parenting going on, but where it was taking place, such students actually reported “higher levels of [academic] engagement and more frequent use of deep learning activities." Jillian Kinzie, a researcher involved with that project, confessed that when she saw those results, her first reaction was, “This can't be right. We have to go back and look at this again." But the benefits did indeed prove impressive."

As a journalist, I'm sure you are well aware of the danger of taking an anecdote with an urban legend ring, and generalizing it to everyone.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jan 5, 2019 at 5:08 am

Respect Autonomy.

We will have to agree to disagree on the subject of free speech and respecting each other's opinion. Respect for opposing opinions is a big part of the discussion.

However, I will say that as a teen I was embarrassed every time I was seen with my parents while out and about with them if I happened to see anyone I knew, likewise if they set foot in my school I would have hoped the earth would have opened up and swallowed me. Nothing against my parents, but having parents was an embarrassment in itself. I also know that my own children were not very happy if they were seen to be given rides to school by parents. If we were ever dropping them off anywhere, it had to be out of sight of their friends and we never got a wave or a look back after the car door had closed. My thoughts are that some of today's teens just might be embarrassed by the way their parents are coddling them and what appears to be depression to parents may just be acute embarrassment. I am no expert on the subject, just throwing out the idea. I could be wrong, because as I say I am no expert. Just an experienced parent who understands my own kids better than they think. Perhaps my kids are different from the norm. Who knows?


 +  Like this comment
Posted by DIana Diamond, a resident of Midtown,
on Jan 5, 2019 at 11:33 am

DIana Diamond is a registered user.

This string has some very interesting thoughts which contribute nicely to the conversation.. But there also are a few irrelevant comments. Comparisons to the Prussian War era seem, to me, a bit of a reach.

The questions I were trying to ask are: Are our children being coddled more than they should be (we all love and care for our kids), but the "more" is the question. Is this good or bad? How will the helicoptered kids function as adults? Perhaps very well, but perhaps we have created coping problems for young adults.

Your thoughts?


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Respect Autonomy, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jan 5, 2019 at 1:04 pm

@Diana,

I should probably clarify. I was not alluding to “Prussian War era". The educational system we have TODAY in our schools is what's called the “Prussian model" " it is virtually unchanged from when it was adopted more than 150 years ago (from Prussia) as a way of creating compliant workers and soldiers for the industrial revolution. The reason it is highly relevant to this discussion is that educational reformers discuss it a lot as being responsible for compromising the development of student independence and independent learning practices in school. It was DESIGNED that way. If you read a lot about education reform, you will see the term “Prussian model" come up a lot " it is the technical name for our educational system, characterized by its working to compromise student independence, not an allusion to Prussian War era anything.

So you can't have a discussion about whether parents are coddling their kids too much without a discussion of the educational system and what it is doing to children's independence, since school is the place students spend most of their time throughout their development, and most schools refuse to recognize boundaries between school time and home time, and assign homework that can for many students overwhelm any home time (or personal autonomy) their entire school careers. This has a profound impact on family life and student independence. When you understand that, you can see that parents pushing against that are actually trying to make their students' independence possible, not compromise it.

But that threatens power in the educational sphere; there has long been a necessary (and often beneficial) power tension between parents and educators in that sphere, and this myth of pernicious “helicoptering" (pushed mainly by overgeneralizing a few outlier anecdotes) has become the latest salvo against parents in that conflict. But the idea itself, that parents are damagingly overprotective, has been used as a power-dynamic cudgel against parents for hundreds and hundreds of years " interestingly, as long as their have been educational “systems" (not just Prussian model). Who most influences young minds will be a matter of interest involving power as long as humans are humans. That must be a part of this discussion, since so much of this incarnation of the parent-coddling discussion relates to the educational sphere (directly and indirectly), AND because the Prussian model is so directly designed to create compliance at the expense of independence.

You have asked whether parents are coddling their children now. I have brought up that this has been a concern for hundreds of years, we have it baked into our language and modern idioms, and it is NOW as it was then and all the time since then, about power, especially against women. If you are going to ask the question, it is relevant to see that the question itself in the larger, and historical context. It is always possible to justify virtually any argument; but whether it's true or not is another matter.

Understanding why people are asking the question in the first place can help in the interpretation of the limited data they use to answer it. The above links I provided, for example, provide pretty solid evidence to directly contradict the idea that “helicoptering" is bad, researchers who set out to find out how bad “helicoptering" is actually found it was beneficial. But to agree even with their work requires a more precise and consistent definition of what helicoptering is. Unfortunately, people tend to change the definition to suit their purposes in any argument, which brings me back to the historical reasons people like to blame parents for coddling their children. Usually it's about getting the upper hand against the power of the parents, nothing at all to do with what is actually best for the children or society.

You have brought up parents pushing back against homework as a possible example of parents coddling children. The Prussian model has been a great vehicle for pushing ever more homework on students, taking over their personal and family time after school. There is a huge emotional and educational opportunity cost in that, and a cost to the develop of student independence. Parents pushing against that is healthy for student independence, it is not “coddling" them. Who else will put their foot down to change that in a way that solves the problem for the suffering except the people who are suffering from it? Parents pushing against the homework can also be the real impetus to change our educational system to something more fitting for the 21st Century, including something that supports student independence.

The world is changing and growing in complexity. Even watchfulness from the standpoint of experience is an evolved response. Empowering parents to be able to step down the watchfulness, in a world in which we expect every child to not only survive into adulthood but to thrive (which wasn't even the case in the ‘50s), is the answer. Not reinvoking a tired argument intended to strip parents of the power to do what they think is best under the circumstances that they are best able to appreciate. The educational system " the Prussian model " today is such an overwhelming influence on student independence, any rational interest in increasing student independence must include reform of that model of education (and stop blaming parents for responding as they must to help their children succeed in the face of the ills of an outdated educational system).


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Respect Autonomy, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jan 5, 2019 at 1:46 pm

@Resident,
The fact that someone disagrees with you and destroys a bad or unsupported argument, even does not respect a given opinion, has nothing to do with whether they respect your right to free speech. I realize it is a popular political argument these days to conflate powerful arguments against a given opinion with squelching free speech. The fact that someone is willing to engage with you to try to show you the fallacy of your rationalizations is a sign of respect of your speech and one of the main benefits of free speech.

You narrowly took something from another discussion completely out of context " one of many, many reasons parents might drive their children to school, in fact, the one example you could most easily ridicule " and you generalized to all “parents" and what “parents feel it is their right" to do. Then you dumped all over the straw men you constructed, saying “how sad is that!" You then went on to say how you and your generation are superior.

I called foul on that.

You do not want parents dropping off their children at school by car, that is clear from the other discussion. You are twisting yourself into a pretzel to make arguments against it, including using the tired power-dynamic arguments about helicoptering parents to do it, even going to the extent of projecting your own embarrassment towards your parents onto others and assuming it could be a cause of clinical depression (in a truly insulting way with no basis in fact or evidence, as you yourself admit). Again, I call foul on that.

First of all, you are assuming students in high school who are nearly adults are being taken to school by car against their will, rather that many of them have made convincing arguments to a busy parent for why they need to be dropped off. You are assuming those children have the very same needs, circumstances, and feelings about their parents as you did, and the same apparent lack of a confidence/sense of self at that age as you did. (It is very common in homeschool circles for people to cite the breakdown of intergenerational relationships resulting from sequestering children by tightly-limited age-matched peers, and the more normal relationship to younger and older people including parents that is possible through independent education, as a primary reason to homeschool. You are assuming the embarrassment you experienced is an innate response, but I think taking a look at homeschoolers now and the history of human evolution when children mostly learned with and by watching adults, shows the fallacy of that assumption.)

Furthermore, while you don't want students to be taken to school by car, but you are unwilling to believe that it is possible for the students who are being dropped off at the back entrance to be dropped off on campus. That may be true now, until you realize things were designed that way on purpose and could have been designed differently (and could be changed) if the district and City had used that as a reasonable design constraint. What you CAN'T do is force everyone to do what YOU want. Those parents are right, they do have a right to take their children to school by car and they do not have to answer to you for it.

Now whether that's coddling or not is another issue. But I think it's a very small issue compared to the fact that the student will then spend the rest of their day (and for most after school) in an educational setting that was literally designed to compromise their independence. Your willingness to dump all over parents for your own purposes, without any support, in this thread and the other, exemplifies what I have just said in my above post: this current incarnation of attacking parents is at its core about interpersonal power (and has been for hundreds of years).

You want parents not to drop their kids at school by car. The teachers at school want to continue teaching the way they always have and don't want anyone interfering. Administrators may get power (school board as stepping stone), glory and money for beefing up data, like the number of APs students take or the number that go to school by bike, so they are innovation averse. But this may not be in the best interest of the children, and the parents are the ones who push back against it. Trying to cast that in such a negative light that they lose that power is what this whole helicoptering smear really all about, even though there is a lot of evidence that what people rail against isn't actually negative after all.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Civilities please , a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Jan 5, 2019 at 11:42 pm

This new generation is dealing with new stressors, and it is unclear how technology impacts the social and neural development of our youngsters. Much longitudinal research is needed to reach a substantial conclusion.

Please be aware of etiquette and civilities, Palo Alto neighbors. Good karma for all of us.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by III, a resident of Midtown,
on Jan 7, 2019 at 7:25 am

III is a registered user.

Yes and No.....
Yes a lot more sympathy and help from parents today vs our coddling in
1950s and 1960s. Many reasons for this, rules, regs, research and
of course including technology.
Is it bad? Sometimes in high school sports have seen parents interfere.
But IMO, parenting has been evolving since WWII. Each generation complains
about the other, and what they have. Heck I do it, as grew up on black and
white TV, no microwave, cell phones, rode our bikes everywhere.
Is it affecting their lives? Not sure. I do know that many seem to want to
live at home vs being out and about on their own. Is it cost? or Coddling?
Again, I am not overly concerned at this time....
III


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jan 7, 2019 at 10:39 am

I'm a senior (age, that is, not high school) who has seen massive changes since the baby boom I grew up with. Way back when, lots of families were large, and there always seemed to be a background of "With six of you, two of you -might- amount to something- maybe." Middle class was good enough for anyone. But, the middle class also was a lot bigger, too, what with the effective seriously graduated income tax. Today, families have all their eggs in one or two baskets, and failure is not an option. Failure isn't an option for society, either. Back then, sometimes teachers and civil servants had criminal records and would share cautionary tales, and explain why they went straight. Now, there is "zero tolerance" everywhere. You don't get the same second chances to get into seriously selective universities anymore. People with any kind of blemish are shut out of so many jobs now. Do parents hover too much nowadays? I think so-- but, I also think that to change that, we have to go back to allowing more failure, and giving people more second, and third, chances.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by ferdinand, a resident of Barron Park,
on Jan 8, 2019 at 11:19 am

"Are our children being coddled more than they should be (we all love and care for our kids), but the "more" is the question. Is this good or bad?"

Families are all different, and I try not to judge unless there is an obvious harmful result to the child. For example, a friend [with a traumatic childhood] would never let her anxious son out of his sight nor visit without being there. Eventually, she trusted me and our old-fashioned [ie, normal dangers due to hand tools, rough terrain, freedom, etc.]. It was beneficial to him to stretch outside his fears. There is no one-way--we can help each other and come together while doing it.

Having worked in schools, I see all sorts of good kids who seem respectful, caring, and balanced. There are kids, however, who are stressed beyond what is normal [in self-development]. But this is also true of some of their parents! My feeling is they do need protections until they can be guided into a calmer place. What sort of guidance? Parents could experiment with different sorts of protections that work for their situation. Having a peaceful, supportive, and enjoyable home life is a priority for us, and although not perfect, here are some things that have helped us:

• Restrict media: When they're young, don't given them iPhones for amusement, let them absorb the natural world, play with tangible toys; put limits on computer/game/TV time [passwords or even hide the devices :)]; if little ones are tantrum-prone out in public, plan a time/place where you remove them. It won't take long for them to learn.

• Books: Leave good ones in their path [literally].

• Talk to your kids: talk about things that interest/amuse YOU--comedy writing, funny shows, environmental issues, etc. This is how they get to know what you care about. For older students, talk about your expectations [grade-wise/career-wise]. Teens make all sorts of unfounded assumptions by osmosis!

• Invite kids over, or try to get them visiting other homes. Different rules and ways of being are very valuable. It isn't easy in this over-scheduled world, but try.

• Network News: Protect the hopefulness of your young kids despite the horrors of the world [or things outside their understanding]. Don't let young kids see/hear unsupervised news with extreme trauma [your call, but roughly up to age 10]; when appropriate talk/interpret these events with them so they are gradually brought into adulthood without being petrified by fear/feeling hopeless. The amount of stranger fear many kids walk around with is so sad, and ultimately makes them more vulnerable. But excessive doom about the climate is having some similar effects.

• Trust teachers more: yes, there can be some boring parts to school, but focus on their privilege to attend a clean, warm, funded school not in a war-zone, with largely clever and caring teachers. The elitism in the community--that "my" child is deserving of more--doesn't necessarily benefit them. If they are special, you can treat them that way at home. We probably err in the other direction, as I don't expect the world to treat my kids as though they are exceptional. Usually respect and fairness are good enough for us when they step outside the door.


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Posted by History Buff, a resident of another community,
on Jan 13, 2019 at 5:40 pm

I agree with Diana. Examples abound.

- A petting zoo at Gunn to relieve exam stress. When these kids are out working and their project is late or their boss finds fault with their work, will there be a petting zoo in the parking lot where they can go to relieve stress?

- A friend who teaches at San Jose State told me that there's no more Pass/Fail grade. It's now Pass/No Pass because no one is allowed to Fail.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Tani, a resident of Los Altos Hills,
on Jan 14, 2019 at 11:10 am

This is an article that with proper editing from a high school teacher would have been seriously edited. This was ALL OVER the map.

Teenagers these days are forced to do much more homework than their parents' generation did ... it is most likely NOT healthy. This article went to so many different read of current parental and school problems that I am not sure what there original point actually was.

I think this is absolutely a discussion that should be had, but this article was NOT the way to do it. It seemed like someone who read current headlines and wrote something without any substantive information.

This is so much more damaging than helpful. Our young people are really important, and this trite mish mash of pseudo-information is in no way helpful. Perhaps this author had one of those awful working over midnight deadlines


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Tani, a resident of Los Altos Hills,
on Jan 14, 2019 at 11:12 am

This is an article that with proper editing from a high school teacher would have been seriously edited. This was ALL OVER the map.

Teenagers these days are forced to do much more homework than their parents' generation did ... it is most likely NOT healthy. This article went to so many different levels of current parental and school problems that I am not sure what there original point actually was.

I think this is absolutely a discussion that should be had, but this article was NOT the way to do it. It seemed like someone who read current headlines and wrote something without any substantive information.

This is so much more damaging than helpful. Our young people are really important, and this trite mish mash of pseudo-information is in no way helpful. Perhaps this author had one of those awful working over midnight deadlines


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Ferdinand, a resident of Barron Park,
on Jan 14, 2019 at 12:15 pm

Following up from Tani...
Maybe she's just trying to be provocative, but agree this is more harmful than helpful. I can give Diamond the benefit of the doubt but too bad she didn't delve deeper into some of her sources, eg, the NYT article: "More recently mothers spend about 3 more hours per WEEK [vs. in 1975] on activities like reading to children; doing crafts; taking them to lessons; attending recitals and games; and helping with homework." Sounds like love to me.

Yes, she quotes sources but over-relies on "some" professors, "some" students, "some" school districts, etc. Frankly, I'm tired of generalizations without closer inspection of details. It also blames parents without looking at the broader changes in our society: very few kids hanging out/available to play with, narrowing of interests due to computer/phone influences, expense of living here requiring 2 incomes, lack of neighborhood contact with children, lack of teen jobs, the economic-based transiency of the community, and the over-focusing on making money/career success. Being home with one's kids playing in another room or outdoors with friends, reading, listening to music, or making something isn't a punishment nor solitary confinement. In some ways we parents are more controlling but with the aim of preserving something that is in danger in this changing world: humor, solitude and connection.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by ferdinand, a resident of Barron Park,
on Jan 14, 2019 at 1:29 pm

Not sure this will get through security:

This is "100 persons like this" rolled into 1 for Respect Autonomy. Could you leave some very subtle clues about your identity for the Sherlock in me?


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Ladies, Is Your Ex ALWAYS On Your Mind?, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Mar 7, 2019 at 6:35 am

Ladies, Is Your Ex ALWAYS On Your Mind? is a registered user.

I am adopted and I don't think most of these questions are that offensive. I agree some of the questions depend on how well you know the person. Some of the questions are rude, but you have to chalk some of them up to basic curiosity.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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