Why are American Kids So Spoiled?

by gurumommy on July 10, 2012

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How many people have sent you a link for Elizabeth Kolbert’s ‘Spoiled Rotten’ from the New Yorker?  If you are like me at all, you have spent the time since reading it feeling sick to your stomach agonizing over what Kolbert writes, that “with the exception of the imperial offspring of the Ming dynasty and the dauphins of pre-Revolutionary France, contemporary American kids may represent the most indulged young people in the history of the world,” Ms. Kolbert writes, early on. “It’s not just that they’ve been given unprecedented amounts of stuff,” adding, “They’ve also been granted unprecedented authority.” American parents are raising a generation of “adultescents,” she writes. We don’t say no. We tie their shoes. We do their chores. And so it goes, until the final self-condemnatory passage (Ms. Kolbert says she’s by no means innocent of committing our national failure), and on and on.  Wow, we should probably just give up now, yes?   She basically says that we are all terrible parents: we hover too much, except when we spend too much time texting while we ignore our little darlings shouting “watch me, watch me!” in the park. We (this is an upper-middle-class “we,” of course) do their homework for them, except when we push them too hard to do too much homework to get into college.  Then I read KJ Dell’Antonia’s article in NY Times Motherlode about the conversation and she concludes that:  ‘Every book I buy or article I read isn’t so much a mistake I won’t make as much as it is more time I’ve spent thinking about how I want to do this thing that my husband I have taken on: raising four children into resilient, self-supporting, connected adults capable of eventually raising children of their own.’

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