Spoiling Them Into Rotten Citizens

I read this article in the New Yorker the other day about Americas spoiled children . The article compares American children with those who live along the Puruvian Amazon. Some of the differences sure were shocking. A child at three in america is believed to not have the capacity to take care of themselves and are often hawked over and aided in all thier actions. A child from the Matsigenka tribe in peru at age three is already wielding a machete and helping to cook food.

The article more interestingly points out that our culture supports a child to do nothing. To have things done for them. A child will ask thier dad “and how am i suppose to eat this?” instead of getting the silverwear themselves and has the father bring it to the table. It goes on to state how this kind of do everything for them parenting is breeding a nation of adultecense that end up living back at home with thier parents not able to cope with the real world.

This article really made me think. I practice attatchement parenting which is basically meet the needs of your child in a way that makes them feel secure and loved. But is this also a diservice? Her needs are met as soon as I figure them out. I have taught her to communicate as much as possible using sign language and the limited vocabulary she has, but the real world will not do the same. I am aware she is only a year and a half so even if I wanted to I could not teach her to do most things on her own and deal with her frustrations. But perhaps how I see parenting may change. If I truley want to raise a global citizen who takes responisbility for her own learning, I am going to have to let her be frustrated.

I immediatly started thinking of Montessori school. This curricular model not only focuses on academics but makes a point to teach life skills. Often preschoolers are taught how to sweep, wash dishes, put things back in order, set tables, even prepare food.  So if doing all those things for your young child leads to a negative results, teaching them how to do it for themselves can only build thier self esteem and abilities.

Everything we have is meant to make out life easier, we have dishwashers, washing machines, showers, ovens, etc but yet our young kids are often not allowed to use them. We wash our kids clothes, cook thier food, set the table, make sure they have showered, remind them to do thier homework, we basically run thier lives. How do we convince them that doing all of those things for themselves will make them a better member of society. Its not as much learning to work, but learning to be responible for yourself so you can help others.

The world is frustrating and they will get fursterated, but if they have had everything done for them how are we suppose to expect them to take care of themselves. While our nations children are busy playing video games  in Peru the young kids are working to help the community and by the time they reach adolence they have the ability to survive completley with a proper set of life skills, while or young teens are depressed and bored and dont want to work.

I live in this culture. How can I get her to be more like the children in Peru while still respecting where she comes from? My only thoughts now are how I can start. I can start simple with showing her how to sweep, where to get her fork, and how to pick up her toys. I can also allow her the opportunity to be frustrated. To figure things out on her own. To guide her in knowing how to do things for herself.  I would love to send her to a Montessori or a Reggio Emilia program, but since those are often very costly I debate homeschooling. In the past I would have never thought of that, but the more I learn about education and the more I am trained in how to provide a quality one that creates democratic global thinkers, the more I know the system is broken. Teachers no longer have to room to really integrate curriculum. They are lucky if they do not have 70 students and  a set curriculum with a strict time schedule that offers very little differentiation.

I know good teachers get creative and work with those confinements to still offer a quality education, but I am curious if I could focus all of that theory and understanding I have gained onto one child and really give her the opportunity to explore and become responsible for her own learning. Would that be bad?

Man, being a parent is tough. Figuring out how to raise a global thinker who takes responsibility for their own learning, respects work and wants to help others is overwhelming. I don’t want to fall into the materialistic narcissistic rut. I don’t want a kid with too many toys and whines if they don’t get the latest trinket their friends have. How do I fight something that is being spread like poison throughout our country?


3 thoughts on “Spoiling Them Into Rotten Citizens

  1. I am also practicing AP with my son and at the same time developing an interest in the Montessori approach for homeschooling. I don’t think they have to be mutually exclusive. I have begun giving my son (27 months) more responsibilities and opportunities to learn to do things for himself. Today I showed him how to peel carrots. He can now unload and put away what it in the dishwasher (handing me the items that are too high and pointing to where they go). He also helps to load and starts it in the evening. He helps with the laundry, and gets miffed if I try to get any done without him. Every week he is learning new skills that many children don’t learn for many more years… And he is developmentally delayed. When I told one of his therapists of our new approach she was surprised as I am known as an attachment parent. I told her that if Eli is interested in doing something I don’t want to hold him back, and this age is characterized by the “I do it myself” obsession. At the same time I teach him the new skills by following his interests. I support him until he is ready to do it independantly. I don’t leave him in extreme frustration to figure out things by himself as I want him to move forward and love learning. I think you are right to teach your child sign. She will only use it as long as she needs it and then will transition away from it. It helps develop the language centers of the brain and actually speeds the process of spoken language. Enjoy the journey… For us at least it’s become a lot of fun! (Sorry my comment is so long!)

    • I love your comment… “they don’t have to be mutually exclusive”. I agree. the more I question and discover things the more it has become a good thing to have a melting pot of a parenting style. What will work for my child and my philosophy may end up being bits and pieces of all sorts of things. I love the carrot thing. I want to try it!

      I think my reaction to that article was a bit serious, but Zoe and I are having a blast. I get caught up in the theory of parenting sometimes where everything I do seems so important..I have to remember she will tell me what she needs and I only need to follow the signals.

      • Well stated… I also get caught up in ideas and theories. It can make my head spin trying to figure out how to fit the approaches that resonate with me into daily practice along side the other approaches I’ve also found along the way. In the end, it really does just come back to watching your child’s cues.

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