iamtheinvisiblehand

Posts Tagged ‘education

I’m behind the news as usual, but I was lucky enough (?)  to catch about 45 minutes of the interview Lance Armstrong gave Oprah a few weeks ago and even though it was just a tiny piece of the whole thing, I’m pretty sure I caught the gist of it.

Like everyone who has seen the news in recent years, I’d heard a lot about the accusations against Armstrong regarding the use of steroids that allowed him to win 7 Tour de France. I guess I was always a little suspicious, especially since he was a cancer survivor, and now that I’ve seen the toll cancer treatment takes on its victims,  for a while there I was truly impressed despite my doubts.

But after seeing his interview, if I had to say one thing is that although it was supposed to be some sort of act of contrition to come clean about his doping past, I have never seen more a more calculated and rehearsed speech in my life. And Oprah, with all her years of experience said that she had been surprised by his candour, or something like that. I may not be an expert journalist or have a degree in Psychology or in any field remotely related to human behavior. I am, however, a consummate introvert. I’m  the girl sitting in the corner quietly, paying attention to everyone else, observing their attempts to attract attention and be in the spotlight for a while. I may not have many personal or social skills, but I am definitely a good judge of character. And I can say, without any doubt, that Armstrong did a fine job at fooling everyone.

It was clear that he was mortified for getting caught, but not for what he’d done. That he’d lied over and over to everyone and that when anyone hinted at the possibility that he’d been doping himself he’d retaliate like a spoiled child who is denied the pretty shiny toy he wants and showed no mercy until he got his way, no matter what the cost might have been for others. And for that he showed no remorse, no regrets.

He mentioned his kids, and how he’d finally come clean because he saw that he could no longer have them defend him when all the accusations made against him were in fact true. And again, what I saw was that he was almost angry he’d had to tell them the truth, but not truly remorseful. And you know, now that I’m a mother, I’ve learned one thing that has guided me through a lot of situations, and it’s this: if you can’t tell your kid about it, or have to lie about it and risk them getting hurt as a result, it’s probably not a good idea. If we do something that we become ashamed of and can’t afford to let our kids know about it, then we’ve definitely done something wrong.

He also said it was impossible  to win the Tour de France without using steroids, or whatever it was he used to win. That was a hard slap in the face for all the others who have competed honestly and trained long and hard every year to win that competition. What would legendary cyclists like Bernard Hinault and Laurent Fignon think about that? For that matter, what about all the other cyclists who never had the chance to win the race while he was competing because he was on drugs and they were not? Furthermore, the other competitors still fought their way through the competition even though they knew they slim to no chances of winning while they had to race against Armstrong, and that is a tough psychological component to beat.

I’m not naive, and I’m sure doping has become more common in competitive sports than it used to be before. Nevertheless, Armstrong had no right to imply that everyone was doing it if he was not going to present proof to back his words. Actually, I’m kind of shocked no one from the race-cycling industry has come out yet to set the record straight, but I’m pretty sure they won’t – and can’t afford  to – stay quiet for much longer.

Anyway, after all has been said and done, I’ve concluded the many of us out there simply chose to believe that he was a hero, the kind of person everyone admires and wants to be like, because he is the ultimate survivor, living proof that if you put your mind to something you can accomplish anything. What’s really sad is that I’m sure that he would’ve been just as highly regarded and respected no matter what his ranking was at the end of these competitions, because he’d already accomplished su much and gone so far. It is definitely much easier to see a hero, even though we know deep down that there is nothing more than a liar there.

I read an article last week on a mother that was charged with child abuse for “smooshing” (I don’t really know what that means but that is how the article described it) the kid who had recently bullied her son.

It appears that she’d heard that her son had encountered some trouble with a bigger kid, so she escorted her son to take the bus in the morning. The bully showed up and started arguing with the boy before even boarding the bus. The mother took action, the teen retaliated (!!!), and then the mother followed the bully onto the bus and pulled his hair. All this was caught on video and all the mother had to say was that she didn’t really regret it. 

The bullying topic is permanently discussed on parenting sites and blogs and the consensus seems to be the same: even though schools have established policies regarding the topic, at some point someone else has to do something about it (either the parents or the child have to eventually take a stance) because the law constrains the authorities way too much to truly be able to take care of things.

My take is that there is something essentially wrong with the way the issue is being dealt with and with the lack of consequences (or enforcement actions) that somehow conveys the message that bullying is ok.

I mean, bullying isn’t new. It’s always been present and is a part of many kids’ daily routine. The thing is, nowadays, it’s just so much more difficult to straighten up your kids when everything is now set up to “protect” the children, even in the cases in which they are the bad guys. And I’m not even talking about spanking the kids, which is not allowed anymore, but about truly and unequivocally letting them know why and how this is unacceptable behavior and making sure they never abuse anyone in any situation again.

Would I have done what the mother in the news did? Probably not. And I’m the mother who shamelessly shouted at another toddler on the beach for throwing sand at my daughter’s face. But it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have gone to the bully’s parents and the school to tell them all about their son’s cowardly actions.

People are always trying to explain bullying by stating that bullies have low self-esteem, are insecure, their parents usually pay no attention to them, and the list goes on and on forever. However, no one ever tries to analyze what happens with the bullied child, or what the long and short-term consequences are. The problem is always focused on the perpetrator and never on the victim. What does that say about us as a society?

In my opinion, there are two types of bullying: traditional bullying, which usually involves boys violently beating up other (smaller) boys. The other, is bullying among girls. This is a lot harder to spot, because it’s subtle. You’ll never see any bruises or scratches. And yet, bullying among girls is just as dangerous because it strips the bullied girls of any self-confidence they may have. It’s more if-you-don’t-bring-me-the-English-paper-by-tomorrow-I-wont-let-you-sit-at-our-lunch-table. Or in the case of smaller girls, if-you-don’t-come-to-school-with-a-ponytail-we-won’t-play-with-you. That is really dangerous, because if you aren’t truly alert, you’ll never see the signs until the damage is done and it’s probably too late.

The topic is way too broad and has so many takes that it’s impossible to condense it in a few lines. I will say, however, that I’m convinced that bad kids who aren’t taught that actions have consequences, turn into bad adults. Not being the religious type or a believer in divine retribution, there is, however, one thing I’ve instilled in my daughter and that is “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. The good part is it’s easy enough to understand and I know she gets it because when other kids treat her or someone else badly she always asks them if they would like to be treated that way too and it usually stops the offender.

But then of course, she’s only 6 and at some point it will no longer be enough. That’s why I’ve also told her to defend herself or fight back if someone does anything to hurt her. It’s not ideal, and my daughter’s school strongly disapproves, but kids have to learn that it’s ok to stand up for themselves if they are being attacked, because the world isn’t an easy place and not all people are good. What’s the alternative, turn the other cheek? No thanks. But even though they have to learn to stay out of trouble, they must also learn that it’s ok to tell a teacher or an adult if someone else is being mistreated. We can’t allow our kids to be bystanders just for the sake of protecting them.

I heard from a friendly couple whose son attends my daughter’s school that last year there was a bully in his class. A full-blown bully who would beat up other kids in the bathroom or in the corridors on a daily basis. Mind you, this was happening in second grade, not junior high. Anyway, the problem was spotted early enough during the year and the bully’s parents were instructed to take the boy to therapy to deal with it. The school told those affected to be patient, that it was being handled, but it just went on and on and it wasn’t until the end of the school year that the kid was expelled.   

As a parent, to be informed that your child is a bully that is physically or psychologically hurting other kids must be a fatal blow. However, seeing it as the parent of a bully’s victim, how can you be told to “be patient” and expect your child to understand that it’s going to be ok, even though he gets slapped around every other day? How can you just stand aside and allow you kid to get hurt? I honestly don’t know how the victims’ parents handled it, but I know I would have pestered my daughter’s teachers and the school’s principal every single day until some effective action was taken. So the bully was expelled? Big deal, he was given a whole school year to inflict pain on so many of his classmates that I’m pretty sure the damage to those he bullied will last longer than the bully’s punishment (if any) or remorse (if any).

Anyway, regardless of the reasons why a child becomes a bully, I’m convinced that the parents are the only ones who can nip the problem in the bud. Sure, schools and the authorities may lend a hand, but if a child doesn’t get the message at home (loud and clear) that abusing others is wrong and unacceptable, there’s really nothing left for the others to do. 

from topnews.in

I was doing my usual “tour of the news” this morning when I found the following headline on msn.com:

White births are now the minority in the U.S.

America has long known this moment was coming, and now it’s official. According to the Census Bureau, white births are now the minority in the United States. Data released today shows that white births represented 49.6 percent of all births between July 2010 and July 2011, with births of minorities tipping the scale at 50.4 percent. Overall, white Americans are still the overwhelming majority (63.4 percent), but, as the population ages, it’s expected their proportion will ebb rapidly
I know governments must keep track of what’s going on, even if only for the sake of statistics, but really?
I’ve always been part of the “minority” wherever I’ve been: as a child in the West Indies, I was part of the white minority. Later on, in South America, as a foreigner (even though I’m a citizen) mainly because of my name. As an adult in Europe, again, the immigrant minority. And even though the only place I ever truly had a hard time was in Europe when I was trying to get a job, I have to say I´ve never thought where a person came from or what their color of skin was should make any difference at all. We can’t control the place where we were born or the color of skin we inherit, so why should it be an advantage or a shortcoming, especially since it has nothing to do with the kind of person we are?
I’m not going to get dragged into the whole “immigrants steal jobs from citizens and don’t pay taxes” discussion because that is not the point here, even though I do have a lot to say on the issue, seeing as I’ve seen and lived enough of it to have an informed opinion. I will say, however, that even more disturbing than the way the headline was written, were the comments made by the people who read the article.
I can’t believe there are still people out there who think that belonging to a certain ethnic group makes them somehow better or superior.
A famous Argentinian comic book character named Mafalda once said: “it’s amazing how far humanity has come and how little intentions have changed”. She couldn’t have said it better.
The world is one big melting pot composed of several smaller ones in each country, there is no denying that. We are all a mix of foreigners blended with the indigenous populations of the places where they finally settled (except maybe the pioneers), so where exactly does “purity of the race” lie or that annoying sense of entitlement come from?
If we are still focusing on this, then as a people we deserve no better than our current fate. If we continue to disregard the lessons of past mistakes, then history will definitely repeat itself with a vengeance.

I went to my daughter’s school yesterday for a conference with my daughter’s teachers and the psychologist. 

The meeting with the teachers was to give us our daughter’s report card; we met with the Psychologist for something else, I’ll tell you in a minute.

Anyway, the report card basically stated what we already knew: our daughter has a hard time concentrating and staying put; she’s a chatterbox and gets easily distracted; she also has a huge, dominant personality that is difficult to handle. However, all learning goals were achieved for this term, regardless of all the BUTs.

Blah, blah, blah. Anyone with a 5 year-old knows that part of being a 5-year old entails focusing on something for a few minutes and moving on to something else just as quickly. Granted, some kids are more focused than others, but I’ve rarely seen kids this age truly engaged in anything for more than 15- 20 minutes. So no surprises on the report card.

The Psychologist was there because we were worried about our daughter’s pre-adolescent behavior (mommy I don’t love you anymore, etc.), so she had been doing some tests and talking with our daughter to figure out what was going on.

And so there was a hint at ADHD. Hubby and I decidedly ignored it, so the Psychologist dropped the subject as soon as it had been brought up, mainly because our daughter doesn’t entirely fit the profile.

Growing up, I took care of a 6 year-old boy who had been diagnosed with ADHD . The kid could be a handful, but once you found ways in which to keep him busy, he would indeed, keep busy for long periods of time, albeit always under a watchful eye because he could turn his bedroom upside down in a matter of minutes. He loved reading, puzzles and building stuff, so that is basically what he’d get to do after, say, finishing his homework.

Based on my experience, ADHD exists, but it is harder on the caretakers than on the child. The child has no way of grasping that he/she has a condition that makes it difficult to focus and stay focused.  I also believe it is getting harder with every passing day, because kids are exposed to a million things each day, a lot more than we were at their age, so it should be more difficult to concentrate.

I’m not in denial, because I know my child isn’t perfect, but I don’t think kids should be slapped with ADHD at the slightest indication of poor concentration. What’s worse: it seems that most of the parents of my daughter’s classmates were told that their kids also got easily distracted and had a hard time focusing. So what is it, then? All of our children are on the road to ADHD or is it a generational thing that we, as parents, will have to deal with?

And then came the rest of the conversation.

It appears that our daughter has a strong personality and is always on the dominant side, a natural leader. But of course, since she is not always the most well-behaved child, she often steers the other kids into mischief. Don’t get me wrong, she’s not the devil reborn either, not even close, but she certainly does enjoy telling others what to do.

This, obviously, is a problem for any caretaker, be it a parent or a teacher. As the parent, I can tell you she can be quite difficult to handle at times. However, I firmly believe a strong, assertive personality is rather a good thing if we manage to deal with it properly. She knows what the rules are at home and she usually follows them, so I know that as long as there is structure and that she respects it, she’ll be ok. I refuse to be the one that crushes her spirit, bans her spontaneity and makes her become a follower instead of the leader. Sure, achieving the balance is hard, ongoing work, but hey, who said parenting was easy?

Anyway, at the end of the conference, adding insult to injury, the Psychologist suggested we have another child as a way to harness our daughter’s rebellious tendencies.

Wow.

Even though the question was dealt with swiftly, because it is a real physical impossibility (due to my hormonal, metabolic and spine-related health issues), I can’t see how this even concerns her at all.

First of all, in what world does having a second child help resolve “behavioral problems” with the first child? I thought people had children because they wanted to have  a family, and love them and raise them and give them what they need so they could grow up to be decent human beings.

It appears that the notion of having an only child is far from beneficial, because only kids have way too much of everything and tend to be dominant and selfish because they have no one to challenge their turf. I thought having an only child meant I could dedicate more time to her instead of having to clone myself trying to be available for anyone, and providing solid financial security (at least for her education) .

Does that mean that children who have siblings are easier to handle? Are they not dominant and selfish as well, in addition to other stuff? Is it true that having more than one child guarantees that the siblings will have a close relationship and accompany one another?

I have 3 sisters, and I honestly don’t think that it was a pivotal fact that made me the way that I am, even though it probably played a part. I also disagree that just because you have a sibling you will automatically be close and will accompany one another. Again, even though I have a cordial, healthy relationship with all my sisters, I don’t consider them my friends and I don’t even consider them close to me. Sure, there must be people out there who are on both sides of the spectrum: there are those who consider their siblings their best friends, and those who want nothing to do with their siblings. Generalizations don’t seem to apply here either.

And there’s another reason why, even if I could, I wouldn’t want another child.

I already have the life I always wanted. I manage my own business, which allows me to organize my schedule according to my needs. I get to spend as much time I want with my daughter and husband. I get to take care of (almost all) our family’s finances. If I had another child I’d have to start over again and things would never be the same.

And I’m not being selfish here. I’m just well aware that I would never be able to give that second child the same type of life I’ve given my daughter, and that would definitely be unfair. Sacrifices would have to be made, and I’d have to make all of them.

I’m not really complaining about my husband when I say this, it’s just the way things are.

To illustrate my point, I’ll tell you that last week I was reading some magazine, and I found a picture of Ben Affleck with one of his kids (maybe Violet?). Anyway, the caption said something like “Look, how sweet of Ben, babysitting his daughter”. I almost choked. Babysitting? I thought Ben was the father of his children and as such, what he was doing was called parenting, not babysitting. But see, the common mistake here is that since the mommy is supposed to take care of the kids, she is the one doing the parenting and dads are only babysitting. Great.

And that is exactly the underlying issue here. When children are involved, mothers are always expected to step up and take over, while no one expects the dads to do much of anything. Again, I’m not criticizing or generalizing, but let’s be honest, even when dads pitch in, the feeling that they are already doing enough is so ingrained, after centuries and centuries of being told that their duties entail taking care of the family (financially) without really being involved, that it’ll take a few more centuries for them to shake off those teachings completely. 

If another child comes into the picture, guess who’ll have to stop working, at least for a few months and probably start over again. Guess, who ‘ll have to keep doing everything as before and add another million tasks to her everyday life. Guess who’ll have to make sure our daughter doesn’t feel left out and jealous with the arrival of a new baby. Guess who’ll have to suck it up if she never gets her life back.  All of this is added to the smaller things mothers do everyday and go unnoticed, like setting up and taking the child to medical appointments; knowing the date of every single past and upcoming event; knowing which medications and how much they need to take; knowing when your child has had a bad day or is just out of sorts; knowing exactly what clothes are too short or which shoes are too tight. You get the picture. 

It may sound cold, putting it this way, but honestly, I’d rather learn to deal with my spirited daughter and not jeopardize everything we’ve already accomplished as a family. I’m aware of my limitations and I’m not about to ignore my instincts just to see if things could get better. If I knew, without a doubt, that having another baby was not going to be a task that was exclusively mine, that I could maybe drop a few duties to handle everything else, I’d rethink it, although I’m sure my decision would still be the same.

So no, no more children here. AND, no more psychologists either. Three is OUR perfect number.

I read that last week Mr. Karl Lagerfeld, the man behind Chanel, recently stated that Adele was “a little too fat”. And what did Ms. Adele do? She just won 6 Grammys and looked absolutely fabulous in the process, wearing Armani I might add. Ha!

When the movie Titanic was the hype, I read that James Cameron would call Kate Winslet, Kate “Weighs-a-lot”. Nasty. And what has she done since then? Every single time she is a part of something she gets nominated for an award, and more often than not, she wins. She also looks like a million bucks every time she’s on the red carpet.

When I lived in Paris, and English friend of mine had a French boyfriend who used to say that Cindy Crawford had “big” thighs. Also in Paris,  I was at the movies watching “Mickey Blue Eyes” with Jeanne Tripplehorn, and at a certain point she is wearing a little something to seduce her boyfriend, Hugh Grant, and the ladies behind me said, “Oh My God, that actress is fat”. I remember thinking that if that was the French standard of beauty, ordinary women like me were doomed.

In what universe are these woman fat?

My younger sister, thin as a stick and childless said, upon watching Heidi Klum hit the runway about 2 months after the birth of one of her children, that all new mothers should get their old bodies back just as quickly as Heidi had instead of making excuses not to do it. My older sister and myself, knowing what childbirth entailed, jumped at her immediately, obviously. Not only is it difficult to focus on anything but your child, let alone yourself, but also, normal women don’t have million-dollar contracts forcing them to be in tip-top shape to parade VS underwear (with all due respect to Heidi and VS), nor the helping hands to get you back in shape while someone takes care of your little one, etc..

How is it that men (mostly, but not exclusively) get to dictate what women should look like and what beautiful means? I mean, why did we gave them the right? But also, why would they impose on us things they don’t really care about when it comes to themselves?

If women had a true say in what beauty should look like, we wouldn’t be subjected to unbearable high heels that make walking, let alone standing, a miserable experience;  we wouldn’t feel the need to wear body shapers to fit into clothes that are usually intended for women on the catwalk; eating properly and exercising would come naturally, since no woman would feel so bad about herself to sabotage her own body for not feeling pretty enough or for not having the stick-thin figure we are forced to believe is the only beauty standard worth living up to.

I’m not trying to criticize or judge, but I do firmly believe that our health and beauty standards have been so distorted throughout the years that we are endangering the future generations’ perception of themselves.

I say it because I’ve seen with my own eyes preschoolers that are worried because they think they have a big belly and refuse to eat to avoid “getting fat”. Ergo, the anorexia this population has been increasingly displaying in recent year. And yet, I don’t see anyone alarmed.

My 5 year-old daughter hasn’t shown any of these signs yet, but if this trend continues, I’m sure it won’t be long for her too. The worst part is that even though as parents we try to instill that beauty is an inner condition, that she must love herself for who she is and that looks mean nothing, if she gets it into her head that she doesn’t look like she is supposed to, nothing we say or do will change that.  Our kids are so exposed to pictures of “perfection” everywhere they go that the voice of the minority – their parents – can’t be heard over the din made by the media.

And so in my house, there is now a blanket ban on saying that people are fat or ugly, on criticizing people on how they dress or look and in general, on anything that demeans another human being on how they look vs. what we think they should look like.

Beauty, as it is frequently quoted, is in the eye of the beholder and I hold that statement as my beacon (along with another: live and let live). As long as you think you are beautiful – in the ways that count, anyway – and love yourself as you are, then everything will make sense. Let the others concern themselves over minor stuff if they like.

I’ve seen so many friends of mine trying to change to look like their husbands or partners wish they would look like, working out their butts off at the gym, starving themselves to death, or letting their hair grow out when they’ve always preferred it short, that it breaks my heart. These women, all of them powerful and extraordinary in their own way, and with so much to give, are constantly insecure about the way they look and feel like they are worthless if they are not appreciated by their significant other.

I understand that our perception of ourself is a great part of our self-esteem, but we can’t expect external factors to boost it if inside we feel like the tiniest grain of sand on the bottom of the ocean. Our appreciation of ourself must come from inside, and it must encompass not only what we are, but who we are. Any changes required must be motivated from the inside, not the outside, because, how can anyone that hasn’t lived inside your body and mind know what you need to feel better about yourself?

Recently, a well-known model (locally, I should say), a stunning beauty, went public on some problems she had with a butt filler. It appears that the doctor who put the hyaluronic acid in her butt used a far-from-ideal product, even though the product itself was duly registered and approved by the local equivalent of the FDA. So while the doctor is suing the lab, the model is now telling everyone that she has now had to endure several surgeries to remove the stuff (or at least that’s what I’ve understood so far).

The irony is that when asked what surgeries she had before, she stated something like this in the following lines: “only breast implants and a nose job, the normal surgeries women get done”.  I wanted to slap her square in the face for saying such a stupid thing. Yes, I know, cosmetic surgery is a reality and millions of people get things lifted, augmented, eliminated or reduced every single day across the globe. But does that mean that cosmetic surgery is now a normal thing for people to do? If it is, then stupid me for thinking that people still cared about the important stuff.

Don’t get me wrong, I know cosmetic surgery changes the life of many people every day, such as burned, disabled or maimed people, but these people truly need it to be able to fully live their lives and regain their self-esteem. Elective cosmetic surgery, such as the model’s choice, is exactly that: elective. You can either choose to live with what you have and make the most of it, or live in misery because you don’t have a bigger backside, smaller breasts or that button nose you think you need to be complete.

So, basically, my thought for today is, forget what other people have to say or what they think. The only opinion that matters, is yours. The only person’s appreciation and approval you truly need to get you through each day is your own. And don’t let anyone try and convince you otherwise.

My five year-old daughter finally pronounced these piercing words to me yesterday. It felt like I was being stabbed to death, or at least what I assume it must feel like.

She’d been acting up for some time now and the day before, she decided to throw away her dinner in the garbage and then lie to me about it. So, she had been warned that there would be no movies or TV the next few days and that she would have to stay in her room as soon she got home from school.

She was truly sad, I could tell by the way she was crying, but I knew I just couldn’t let this one go. I had to follow through with the punishment, come what may. First, she just begged and tried to negotiate, as only little ones can do. Any adult who’s tried ignoring a toddler with negotiation skills knows what I’m talking about, because even though you are sure you have it covered, after a while you figure out that you have yielded something you didn’t mean to and suddenly you have agreed to do things you hadn’t even thought of to begin with. (That happens a lot to my mother and my mother in law when they’re trying to deal with my daughter, the expert negotiator. It’s amazing how, as adults, we think we have everything under control when it comes to our kids, until we realize that we don’t).

A few minutes later, seeing that I wasn’t budging, she then said she would never play or have fun with me again. The point of the knife’s blade started sinking into my heart at this point. And then she told me “I don’t love you anymore, mommy, and I’m serious”. And that was that.

The worst part is, at the time she said it, she probably meant it, even though by bedtime she was her usual sweet self.

I know that as parents it’s up to us to guide our kids so they grow up to be good, responsible people. I know that everything I do is for my daughter’s own good, even if she can’t (and will probably never) appreciate or understand it.

So does this mean that if my daughter tells me she hates me (which will surely come again at some point in the not-so-far-away future)  it’s because I’m doing my job right? Because if it is, then these 5 years will have been the shortest ride into adolescence. Ever.

Honestly, I was expecting this type of behavior 10 years from now (I know, too optimistic, right?), but not now when my daughter is supposed to be sweet, innocent, good and pure, but most of all, willing to go along with mommy’s instructions.

Wow, this was a rough awakening!

I know kids have changed a lot since I was a kid myself. I remember being an obedient and respectful child (most of the time) because I knew the consequences of bad behavior were serious and proportional to the infraction. And I remember most of my friends were raised the same way too, so in general, we were all more or less well-behaved.

I also remember just trying to swallow my veggies with a mouthful of something else to help them go down, because they would not go down on their own, and not even attempting to persuade my parents not to make me eat them because that road would lead nowhere.

Tantrums, whining and all these other unpleasant scenes were swiftly dealt with and the urge to start them wore off immediately because they weren’t tolerated. At all.

But I see kids like my daughter now, and I have to marvel (or freak out is more like it) at how much things have changed in 30 years since I was her age.

It’s not just my daughter, who at age 5 is already acting like a teenage drama queen and diva, but all her friends as well. 

I don’t know if we (and by we I’m referring to the generation of parents ranging from age 25 to 40)  have become pushover parents because we were so restricted as children, or if we just don’t have the guts to be strict parents, but something is seriously wrong.  

I consider myself to be a strict parent, and so is my husband. This doesn’t make her declaring her absence of love for me any easier. I’ve tried to instill in her that actions – good and bad – have consequences and that she must accept what comes to her accordingly. I’ve had to do many things in my attempt to teach her right from wrong. And yet I feel I am failing horribly.

I know I’m not a pushover, but I also don’t feel the need of being as strict as my parents were with me, so where on earth is the middle of that?

I don’t appreciate my daughter’s efforts at negotiation, because at some point she must realize that there are some things that can’t be avoided and just have to be done no matter what (picking up her toys after playing, eating her meals, going to bed when she’s told to, etc.). I do, however, let her speak her mind even though I know that the answer is no.

I’m not an absent mother and my husband is not an absent father either and I feel she is well looked after and has everything she needs, nothing more, nothing less. So where is she (and all her friends) getting all this attitude?  Do they know something we don’t? Or is just that we are such bad examples that they disregard everything we say and do?

All I know is I was hoping I would still have some more peaceful years before age, growth and maturity kicked in, but I see the new generation is way ahead of us.

I just came from a meeting at the school with the teachers of my daughter’s class.

Although there is a wide variety of parent types (pushy, my-son/daughter-is-a-genius/perfect/flawless, careless, servant-and-chauffeur, overachiever, etc. although all of them are loving and caring just the same) the overbearing, helicopter type seems to dominate the scene.

They usually make me laugh, but some times they are just flat-out infuriating. For instance, you see them at one of the other kids’ birthday party and they keep hovering around their child, disturbing their playtime with their other friends, or their alone time if they want to be left alone exploring and discovering, like a regular toddler should be allowed to do.  They are also the type to enroll the kids in endless courses and classes, not only in the hopes that they will always be ahead of the rest, but also because they just can’t resist being the ultimate ruler of the kid’s life or just don’t think they’ll ever be able to amount to much without them.

The children of these parents are usually seen doing what they are told, without displaying any kind of emotion or initiative that would reveal their liking/disliking of the activities they are forced to be a part of.  And I’ve seen this up-close virtually everywhere: at the supermarket, you’ll see the parent (notice how I don’t say the mommy, as dads are also guilty) with the child in tow, lecturing him/her on how sugar is bad for you and if you drink a soda you’ll get sick or worse, fat; at ballet lessons, the mommy (yes, in this case it is the mommy) telling the girl to suck it in and watch her posture (Barbara Hershey’s character in Black Swan was exactly the type albeit taken to the extreme); at the park, you see them telling the poor kid what to do instead of letting them run around freely till they drop of exhaustion; if there is a project to be done for school, you can be sure these parents will ace it, because the child will never have a say in it and they’ll do everything and more to ensure their child gets the best grade and the highest praise. And what’s worse, it doesn’t stop during childhood: it goes all the way into adulthood (I even read somewhere that there are some who keep doing their kids’ laundry even though they’ve already left for college).

What exactly are they doing? And more importantly, why? Is there ever a good reason to overcompensate?

There are 2 examples that are close to home and are frankly embarrassing. 

The first is my own sister. Although she is only 3 years younger than me, she is already in her early 30s and for some reason, my mother still feels the need to protect her from everything and everyone.

I realize my mother must have some feelings of guilt, mostly due to the fact that she uprooted us all from our home to take us to live with our grandmother (her mother) in the southern part of the American continent when she left our dad. I’m not complaining, for even though our life with grandma was trying  – to say the  least -, it would’ve been worse had we stayed. But as to why she only feels guilty about her remains a mystery to me.

In my mother’s place, I would’ve been extra caring with my eldest, as they were truly taken away from a life they already knew well and were already set in their ways. As for my youngest sister and I, we were just kids and did not have that much to lose or miss.  Besides, let’s face it, kids are tremendously resilient and they can find it in themselves to overcome almost anything.

Anyway, the trouble with all this is that my sister grew up to be a selfish, permanently frustrated and undeserving adult, who only seeks to take what she feels life owes her (which is everything) and never stops to think how she can give back or at least contribute in some form to society. She is so used to getting her own way, that she has forgotten what basic and common courtesy is like and acts like a tyrant. She is always ready to jump on you if you contradict her and basically complains all day long about everything. She works hard, I’ll admit that, but is that enough? I mean, is it OK to just live your life expecting things will turn out your way because you feel you’re entitled to them?

I’ve spoken about this with my mother many times and she admits she was “soft” on her growing up. What she has never been able to explain is why she still is. And I’m not saying that she shouldn’t have taken my sister in when she quit her last job, no. I am saying that she at least should’ve told her to pull her own weight while she stayed there (she made some money providing consulting services). Not only did my mother refuse to ask her, but my sister also failed to propose, so she lived quite comfortably at hotel mom for about a year. The worst part was that when we, her sisters, told her to pitch in with whatever she could, she would get furious and storm out of the room. This is her usual response to anything that goes against her interests. And yet my mother always finds reasons to defend her no matter what, or to praise her for even the smallest thing.

The other example is my brother-in-law. Now, he is in his mid twenties and curiously enough, he is also the youngest child. (I think I am going to coin the phrase “the youngest child syndrome” because it fits so well with so many people I know. That is, if doesn’t exist already).

I know things on his side are a bit different, because my husband’s father died when my husband was in his early 20s and his brother wasn’t a teenager yet.  My mother in law had never needed to work for money before, as she was a proud housewife, but all that changed when her husband died. So, she had to change gears immediately, since she could no longer be the same housewife and mother she had been all those years. If my guess is right, this is when she started feeling guilty about her youngest child, as she was no longer there for him  (and I mean that physically, because of course she could still be counted on, but she couldn’t stay at the house anymore) as she had been with the two eldest.

My brother-in-law is a good guy, but in all honesty, he is the portrayal of uselessness. He is a Historian, which is great if you are either a researcher, a writer or want to teach. Research is not big in the country where I live, and he is clearly not teaching material, but he’s supposed to be good at writing. The thing is, writing requires discipline and hard work, and I don’t think he has it in him, and I’m not being judgmental, just blunt (he had a whole semester to write his dissertation and he ended up writing it the week before the deadline, to the general applause of his mother and sister and the overall dismay of everyone else).

You see, for instance, he knew from day one in college that he would be required to take a mandatory English test in order to finish the curriculum and graduate. He had to take it before a certain date in order to graduate in 10 semesters, as is usual. About a year before finishing his studies, my husband started inquiring after the exam, when he planned to take it, what he needed, etc. My mother in law was even paying for additional lessons to prepare him for this test. Long story short, the deadline came and went and he ended up having to take an additional semester to make up for time lost. If we consider what a semester costs at a private university, I’d say that that was extremely inconsiderate, not to mention irresponsible.  And yet my mother in law said nothing and preferred to commiserate with him, scolding my husband for being too hard on him.  

Another example: on his 18th birthday, my husband told him he would pay for his driving lessons and for his driver’s license, since they boy had been quite insistent that he needed his license to drive his mother’s car. The condition was that he had to take care of organizing the whole thing, so as soon as he was ready my husband would only have to pay. Believe it or not, it took him 2 whole years to take the course and get his license. Good thing he couldn’t wait to get his license, eh?  The worst part: he doesn’t even drive his mother’s car, although she leaves it sitting in her garage 5 days a week. That was money well spent…

As if that wasn’t enough illustration, in April this year he got a 2-month contract with a publishing house editing school textbooks for 4th graders. He complained every single day about the job, how far away it was, the long hours, having to go in on the weekend, the awful and mediocre boss….you name it. We told him that yes, we could relate to his disappointment (real life is a b##$&) but that sadly, more often than not, this is how it was and that it was up to him to choose: he could either suck it up and keep on going if he really liked it, or he could finish his contract and move on to something else.  His contract ended in June and he’s been out of a job since, and is therefore still at my mother in law’s, who keeps feeling sorry for him, even though he is quite capable of taking care of himself.

The worst part is, she keeps trying to heighten every single thing he does, even if it’s something he had to do in the first place. E.G. they recently moved, and yet my MIL kept telling everyone how helpful her son had been, when it was clear that he had to do all that anyway because he still lives with her!

He shows the same traits of my sister: storming out of the room when someone contradicts his point of view, unable to keep a conversation when people disagree with him, frustrated permanently because real life is so much more difficult than he thought…it’s quite sad actually. No matter what good things may be in store, he misses them because he, like my sister, is always focusing on what he deserves and not on appreciating what he already has. 

So, to sum up this lengthy blog, yes, I understand why parents may feel guilty and think it is their obligation to protect their children, since they were unable to protect them at some earlier point or  because they were unable to provide for them like they wanted to or for whatever reason they find to justify their behavior. But still, an explanation is not a justification. The damage overbearing parents do to their children is appalling, even though they do it out of love, and shockingly,  it is now the global trend.

I’m not an expert, it’s just how I see it.



  • None
  • Carrie Rubin: I don't always remember names well, but I remember circumstances. I especially remembered yours because it's such a rare cancer, and you were the firs
  • iamtheinvisiblehand: Thank you for your kind words, but also thank you for remembering it was me....it's amazing that you'd remember this considering the endless stream of
  • Carrie Rubin: I am so sorry to hear about your mother. After you commented on my blog yesterday, I remembered that your mother was the one who had cholangiocarcinom

Categories