The helicopter was invented a long time ago

“…she had to stay with him at nursery school every morning for four months, or else he went into a violent frenzy of tears and tantrums.  In first grade, he often vomited in the morning when he had to leave her.  His violence on the playground approached danger to himself and others.  When a neighbor took away from him a baseball bat with which he was about to hit a child on the head, his mother objected violently to the “frustration” of her child.  She found it extremely difficult to discipline him herself…”

“…In a Westchester community whose school system is world famous, it was recently discovered that graduates with excellent high-school records did very poorly in college and did not make much of themselves afterwards.  An investigation revealed a simple psychological cause.  All during high school, the mothers literally had been doing their children’s homework and term papers.  They had been cheating their sons and daughters out of their own mental growth…”

“Whereas in earlier years it had been possible to count on the strong motivation and initiative of students to conduct their own affairs, to form new organizations, to invent new projects either in social welfare, or in intellectual fields, it now became clear that for many studnets the responsibility for self-government was often a burden to bear rather than a right to be maintained… Students who were given complete freedom to manage their own lives and to make their own decisions often did not wish to do so… Students in college seem to find it increasingly difficult to entertain themselves, having become accustomed to depend upon arranged entertainment in which their role is simply to participate in the arrangements already made…”

“…a new and frightening passivity, softness, and boredom in American children… incapable of the effort, the endurance of pain and frustration, the discipline needed to compete on the baseball field, or get into college.”

Today’s overinvolved helicopter parents are robbing kids of the character-building experiences of failure and frustration they need, and raising a generation of incompetent narcissists!

Except of course all this is from Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique, published in 1963.  (The third passage is testimony from the president of Sarah Lawrence, the rest is Friedan herself.)

It’s amazing:  you can open this book to just about any page and find material more relevant to contemporary life than 95% of “how we live now” articles published this month.

 

 

 

 

 

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5 thoughts on “The helicopter was invented a long time ago

  1. Jessie says:

    The first kid sounds like he had a sensory-processing disorder. But of course that’s the mother’s fault, too. ;)

  2. JSE says:

    Actually, there’s a lot of stuff in the chapter about how overinvolved mothering causes autism, but that part felt a little less contemporary…

  3. NDE says:

    You can tell how old this is from the specification of competing “on the baseball field”.

  4. thumbtheorem says:

    I don’t know if an intended side effect of this post was to motivate readers to buy their own copies of Friedan’s book, but I definitely will. How much helping schoolkids is too much is a point where my parenting style (never, ever) isn’t a good match with current schools’ expectation. Maybe things in the US are different, though.

  5. [...] to find the positive side to the experiences gained from Mormonism and learning to parent better by not sacrificing yourself on the altar of [...]

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