Monday, April 7, 2014

Kids and Parents

In the past few months several articles have highlighted problems that occur from inadequate levels of parental responsibility.

The first, from Fox News, blames parents for obesity risk in their children.  The emphasis of this study is on infant care.  “Obesity-linked feeding habits included exclusive use of formula (45 percent of participants), introducing solid foods before 4 months of age (12 percent), putting infants to bed with their bottles (43 percent), feeding their infants when they cried (20 percent), and propping bottles up instead of holding them by hand (23 percent).”  They also mention that using television as a distraction or babysitter may lead to obesity in later life.

Related to the television comment above is this item with the controversial headline, “Science doesn't lie - modern mothers are lazier.”  It refers to a study by the Mayo clinic comparing energy expenditures over the past 45 years.  The findings were that “physical activity, defined as cleaning the house, cooking, child care and exercise, declined by about 11 hours a week from 1965 to 2010. However, sedentary behavior, like sitting in a car or looking at TV or a computer screen, increased by seven hours in women with older children, and almost six hours in those moms struggling with urchins under 5.”  Also surprisingly, physical activity dropped more for unemployed than employed mothers.  Fast foods, laborsaving devices and the boom in electronics are suspected culprits, all of which can lead to obesity problems for both parents and their children.  Just because the survey asked mothers, I see no reason not to broaden the focus to fathers as well.  When you see families walking down the street it is usually obvious that the children share the same values, habits and diets as both parents.

Finally, this very interesting Forbes article explains how “parents are failing our children today — coddling and crippling them — and keeping them from becoming leaders they are destined to be.”  It lists seven detrimental behaviors that are likely a reaction to the previous generation’s emphasis on planning for the future and saving money for retirement and emergencies.  This generation of parents “live for today” and “embrace the moment,” feeling they deserve it, protecting children against current dangers without regard for the future.  What follows from this perspective includes credit card debt, siding with the child against the teacher, various degrees of "affluenza" and padded playgrounds.

Some of this may be related to ignorance, not knowing any better; few parent instruction manuals are available.  On the other hand, notice how society and the media promote such behavior.  Coddling parents are seen as caring.  Young children using the latest electronics are seen as cute and “with it.”  Having material possessions is seen as a status symbol.  Yet the children who are overfed, underfed, unprepared for kindergarten, can't afford college,  or just plain spoiled are characterized not as a parental failure, but as a national crisis resulting in many government programs that relieve the parents of their primary responsibility.  

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