September 28, 2012

Parenting parenting parenting. What about the children today? How are they growing up? A good friend of mine told me recently this story. “You know, every time I go into the house the kids are playing video games. The television is always on. And they are only 3 and 5 years old. I’ve tried on many occasions to get them to read age-appropriate books and you know what my daughter says? She boldly states that her children are boys and they don’t have to read.”

Where do we start with the parenting issue? I know Generation X cannot claim perfection in this department. In many respects we broke the bond between families and children by emphasizing careers and getting a bigger slice of the economic pie. Generation X invented day care centres. We ran away from domestic duties at warp speed. We invested our time in our own development and advancement. We wanted to reach the top of the mountain. We spun the self-serving rationalization that children were better off away from their parents with child care professionals. We said to ourselves that they would learn more. …

In some respects this was actually true. Daycare was better than babysitting. However, gradually over time, day care and child development theories have changed. We have learned how important the early years are to cognitive development. We have learned that the children’s ability to amass and absorb information is 6 times greater from birth to age 6 than any other time. This is not a period to waste on mindless video games and television. It is a truly amazing phase of human development. Young children can learn several languages and develop all kinds of skills very early – if given the opportunity.

Unfortunately, the price has been high for Generation X’s flight from the home. Even worse, Generation X lost control of the choice to be at home and raise children. They had to pay the bills - the essentials of life and inch by inch, loan by loan, the demand for additional family income soon included the repayment of creditors. By the 1990s middle class Generation Xers were up to their assets in debt with the cost of day care rising and rising. Availability and accessibly became a huge problem for Generation Y.

So, we face many new questions today for rearing children. What happens to the children whose parents cannot afford external scholastic and preschool training? Are they left behind or face a lifelong-upward climb to catch up with the wealthier and more privileged? What happens to those children that get plopped down in front of a television and lack parental guidance? Then there is the question of role models and attachment. Who did Generation Y attach to? Their working parents? Their peers?

If we know that day care and Montessori pre-schools can make such a difference to the quality of life that children will have with language, mathematics and social skills then why aren’t they more affordable and what can be done to allow lower and cash-strapped middle income families access?

Read Part 3

> Generation X Calling Generation Y - Come In Please - Part 1

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