Parents must learn dangers of speeding at home
By Josephine Tovey & Amy McNeilage
To the helicopter parents who micro-manage their children’s lives, obsess over academic performance and treat child-rearing as a competitive sport, Wendy Mogel has a simple message: you’re not helping.
The Los Angeles child psychologist and best-selling author says this modern, middle-class form of parenting is so out of control many of today’s teenagers resemble ‘‘teacups’’ and ‘‘crispies’’ by the time they get to university.
’‘The teacups are so fragile that they get their first bad grade, they don’t like the professor and they just fall apart,’’ Mogel said.
’‘And the ‘crispies’ are so burned out from the academic load they’ve been carrying since they were in pre-school that they’ve lost their intrinsic pleasure in learning, they don’t challenge the professor and they don’t take intellectual risks.’‘
Mogel, author of The Blessing of a B Minus, is one of a number of speakers who will be advocating a more relaxed, tolerant style of parenting at the Young Minds conference in Sydney this week.
Building resilience and character, not the perfect school record, should be a parent’s goal, she says.
One of the major targets of Mogel’s concern is the growing popularity of private tutoring for children who are not really struggling, but whose parents expect perfection in all areas of schooling.
’‘They feel like they’re being considered handicapped, when all they are is average instead of above average in some area,’’ she said.
’‘It deprives them of developing learning grit, which is persistence, curiosity, self-control, optimism.’‘
Carl Honore, author of the 2008 book Under Pressure, has a similar view. He coined the term slow parenting, a philosophy which encourages children to explore the world at their own pace and on their own terms.
’‘It’s understanding that child-rearing is not a competitive sport, it’s not product development and it’s not project management,’’ Honore said. ‘‘It’s about bringing a sane balance back into the home because it seems that this virus of hurry has infected our approach to childhood.’‘
’‘Children nowadays are often born and they hit the ground running with Baby Einstein DVDs and Mozart to generate brain development and baby sign language and Mandarin lessons. We’ve turned childhood into a race to perfection.’‘
June 16, 2013