Tuesday 20 July 2010

Raising kids in the 21st century

Raising kids is not easy they say. According to the french adagium it is: "donner des racines et des ailes", to give roots and wings to children. Roots to make them aware where they come from and wings to make them willing to go somewhere else. I sometimes refer to education as: "shooting at a moving target", because of the speed of my kids' growth process.

On television and elsewhere, I discover a lot of uncertainty with parents concerning the best way to raise kids. There are two major causes. One cause is the deep social gap between those who raise their kids in the best possible way and those who basically... don't. At school, these kids are mixed and this creates obviously a lot of problems.

Another cause is the paradigm shift with respect to previous generations. Education is no longer based on authority and obedience but on persuasion and interaction. Most people, even the older generations, see this as a positive evolution. And most agree that this is more demanding on the parents' side. Perhaps it is also more demanding on the children in the sense that they have to make choices and decisions much earlier, sometimes too early, in life.

In comparison to earlier generations, parents tend to be less demanding in terms of attitude. What strikes me, is how demanding they have become in terms of performance... Children are expected to be perfect in about everything nowadays, from ordinary school to dancing classes, horse riding, music school, school theatre and whatever you like. Of course, there is a positive aspect on all that. But if I look at the agenda of some kids, it looks like all these activities serve yet another purpose: prepare the kids for the toughest of all rat races and in the mean time: let dad/mum do their own thing. Anyway, this child rat race is not nice for the less talented and it will not lead us to paradise.

Picture: Ambrosius Francken, Christ blesses the children, Bonnefantenmuseum Maastricht

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