By Joe Messina, Special for USDR
This one had my head spinning. I had to watch and listen twice! Now, I know, some may say this guy has issues of his own, but the audience was proof that he was on target.
Jerry Seinfeld was on the new Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and I am sure his audience was not a bunch of old folks.
After a few minutes of standup comedy, Seinfeld sat down with Fallon and got into a conversation about parenting. Seinfeld stated that he was not in agreement with this “new style” of parenting and reminded the audience that when many of us were kids, our parents didn’t give a da@@ about a lot of things.
Seinfeld went on to say that our parents never made deals with us to eat our food, brush our teeth, and so on. Our parents didn’t have to ask us 147 times to go to bed, “get back into your bed,” “what did I tell you?” “did you brush your teeth,” “did you use water,” and so on and so on.
How many books do you read your children at night? How many hours of TV do they watch in their bedroom before going to bed? The inmates are running the asylum!
Look, I’ve had 4 children. Based on how different each was, they may as well have been born to 4 different sets of parents. My ex-wife and I had different parenting styles. (I am not picking on my ex-wife. Simply stating fact and using my own real-life example since I can’t use yours!)
I heard on a regular basis on how she couldn’t get them to eat. She couldn’t get them to go to sleep, clean their rooms, make their beds, do their homework.
On the other hand, when they were at my house, we all ate at the dinner table at the same time. We cleaned up together. Everyone was in bed at the assigned time. Beds were made and rooms cleaned every Saturday before they went outside. Sounds a little like a militant lifestyle? Well, so what?
Kids love consistency. Kids want to know things are the way they should be. They want to be able count on mommy and daddy and other adults to be there for them, to guide them and help them. Sometimes help is not in the form of, “it’s OK honey, you broke the TV while playing ball in the house, I am sure you didn’t mean it”… (insert buzzer sound here) Wrong answer!
Life has consequences. When you are doing something you shouldn’t be doing like, drinking and driving, speeding in a residential zone, cheating on a test, or consistently showing up late for work, it’s not going to be all right. They all carry serious consequences… jail time, fines, failing a class, or getting fired.
The best time for your kids to fail and feel the consequences is at a young age while they are still with you. Parents discipline in a loving and caring way, not demeaning.
According to Dr. Robi Ludwig, Psychotherapist, there is a real backlash against these helicopter parenting strategies, described by Seinfeld, and practiced by millennial moms.
Helicopter parenting is when parents hang over the kids, never allowing them to feel bad about anything, fail, or make non-life threatening mistakes. These kids ultimately learn nothing about real life or how to interact in the real world.
Dr. Ludwig goes on to say, “certainly there is a generation of moms who waited a long time before they had kids. They’re working many hours. So due to guilt or just falling in love with motherhood, they’re creating this whole ritual” of a feel-good eating experience or a bedtime experience or whatever.
Many of the offspring of these helicopter parents and the kids of the “no score,” “no-grades” era are having real problems in today’s society and in the workplace.
When they encounter problems with authority at work many go into shutdown mode. Friends who own businesses have plenty of stories to tell about that generation. People who show up late… a lot! And use excuses like: traffic, couldn’t find a parking space, long line at Starbucks, I’m not a morning person, or talked to another parent too long when I dropped my kid off. Really?
In the past, I have had employees who got extremely upset with me because they weren’t paid for 40 hours even though they only worked 36. Let that sink in. Then there were those who came in at 8:35 or 8:40 when everyone else starts at 8:30. They went to lunch at 11:45ish come back at 1ish when lunch is 12 to 1, like everyone else. It was my experience that most of these people grew up in a very “open” parenting environment.
According to Dr. Ludwig these kids who were raised by a helicopter mom consistently say they are not so happy with the way the world worked out. The world does not actually revolve around them. Shocking!
Dr. Ludwig says it’s better for children not to think that everything is going to be easy because life is not easy. And in order to be successful in the world, you have to be prepared for reality. You have to believe in yourself. But you have to know things are not always going to go your way and learn how to strategize.
By not allowing children to achieve on their own, good or bad, I believe we are doing them a disservice. They need to see what working hard will get you and what working “kind of” hard gets you and what “not trying at all” gets you.
To Seinfeld’s point, our parents didn’t care if you were always happy, got everything you wanted, or faced hardships. These things built character and they taught us how to deal with them and work through them. Parents need to be there to guide and encourage, not do and shelter.
America, be parents, or be prepared for your kids to be lost!