A lot of people are annoyed by the recent slew of parenting articles and books that claim that parents in other countries do a better job of raising their children than do American parents. We’re just beginning to find out exactly how detrimental it is to have a helicopter parent and to be a bubble-wrapped child, but the full impact won’t be known for many years to come.
My husband, a university professor, can share with you countless stories of coddled undergrads who whine at an assignment that forces them to think, negotiate (unsuccessfully) for extra credit after slacking off on their assigned work, and constantly ask “Do we have to know this for the test?”. These underachievers didn’t wake up one day and decide they were going to be barnacles on the hull of society; they were MADE this way by parents who over-protect and under-challenge them, and a school system that focuses only on quantifiable achievement and ignores the traits that bring about long-term success and personal satisfaction.
Can we reverse this disturbing trend? Sure, but it takes humility to accept that we’re on the wrong path. Once we put our egos aside for the sake of the children, we might do well to look at cultures (industrially developed or otherwise) whose methods of education are creating independent, focused, and resilient human beings (and by “education” I mean “how we raise our children” and not just “what they learn in school”).
Here are a few articles and books that shed light on what other cultures are doing right… Detractors will read them and say “Yes, but, the entire society is set up to support this type of upbringing.” True. So isn’t it time that we start making changes in our society to support the healthy development of our children???
Why My Child Will Be Your Child’s Boss (an article about education in Switzerland)
Why Are American Kids So Spoiled (an article that contrasts responsible children in the Peruvian Amazon with spoiled American children)
Outdoor Pre-school in Norway (a short documentary demonstrating the importance of outdoor education and the surprising endurance of pre-schoolers)
Bringing Up Bebe (a book that describes how French parents educate children to sleep through the night, wait their turn, and make good choices)