Monday, January 7, 2008
Parents! Get a life and leave your kids alone…
I met a bloke once who got irate with me when I said all private schools should be abolished. He explained that he was (relatively) poor because he was sending all three of his children to private school, just like his parents did with him and his sister. There was no way he would entertain them going to ‘ordinary’ schools because they would be under-educated and fit for nothing. I mused internally that he meant by this, ‘be consigned to the lower orders’.
There have also been a spate of articles recently concerning the degree to which parents are encroaching on their children’s lives in school…and beyond! Not only are they researching for them, helping to write their poems and essays, giving them swotting time and networking good contacts for their field assignments but once they leave school or university, they are preparing them for jobs and even interceding on their behalf regarding pay and rations!
We have reached such a nadir in our consumerist society that our children are becoming our designer dolls. We pour whatever wealth we can scratch together into them and try to sculpt their lives, often towards destinations that we, ourselves, failed to reach. Children are becoming our second chance, our alter egos in life. They are our virtual computer game protagonists, seeking glories in education and work that eluded us, by surmounting obstacles, collecting rewards, climbing the meritocratic ladder.
Where once the very well-off and the aristocracy indulged in this blood-insured road to success, now it has become a widespread obsession. The aforesaid bloke and his ilk are giving up much of their lives to feed the frenzied desire for their progeny’s success. And it will continue in a cycle through oncoming generations.
They don’t stop to wonder about the strange equation that they have created. It is this. If all the energy and resources are poured into the next generation, no-one has a life. Neither the hapless, denuded parent nor the suffocated, manacled child.