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Are we raising a nation of wimps?

In the book Culture Shift, author R. Albert Mohler Jr. diagnoses a number of the things that are breaking down in our culture. Of particular concern is the poor parenting going on in our homes and families. Today’s parents have turned into hyper-protectors, Mohler says. Here are some of th…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
the book Culture
, author R. Albert Mohler Jr. diagnoses a number of the things that
are breaking down in our culture. Of
particular concern is the poor parenting going on in our homes and
families. Today’s parents have turned
into hyper-protectors, Mohler says. Here
are some of the key points he makes along these lines:

Today’s parents
are now spending a great deal of their time doing little more than
protecting their children from life. Our kids are growing up to be
pampered wimps who are incapable of assuming adult responsibility and
have no idea how to handle the routine challenges of life.

Kids have to excel at everything, even if parents have to actually do
the work or negotiate an assisted success. Although error and
experimentation are the true mothers of success, parents are taking
pains to remove failure from the equation.

Smothered by parental attention and decision making during childhood
and adolescence, these young people arrive on college campuses without
the ability to make their own decision, live with their choices, learn
from their experiences, and grapple with the issues of adult life.

Even in prekindergarten programs, parents now show up with a list of
special demands, insisting that their child must be treated with
special care. Inevitably, this is often transformed into diagnoses of
learning disabilities that will require special instructional

Cell phones are partly to blame. Even in college…students are
typically in contact with their parents several times a day, reporting
every flicker of experience…. When parents play along with this
dependency, they ‘infantilize’ their children, ‘keeping them in a
permanent state of dependency.’ Life is lived in an endless present
tense, with no need to frame long-term decisions, make plans, or engage
in sustained interpersonal conversations.

Many see life as a competitive game, and they are determined to do
whatever it takes to get their children on top. One college student
said, “I wish my parents had some hobby other than me.”

In tomorrow’s blog, we’ll take a look at what to do if you wake up one day and discover you’ve become a helicopter parent.

Comments (9)

  • Yeah…um…when exactly did we get rid of that mandatory trial-by-wilderness experience? I think that cleared up a lot of things.

  • I am the father of 4, w/ #5 due in November. Our oldest is 7. We catch heat from “friends” and inlaws b/c we give our kids choices to make, then expect them to live w/ the choice they made. At this point the choices they are making are pretty benign in the grand scheme of things.
    Do you want to take a nap now, or go to bed early tonight?
    If they leave the table before dessert, Then they get no dessert.
    They are learning that their choices have consequences. It can be so hard to see their little heart hurting as they may miss out on something fun, but I would much rather see them hurt over a brownie or a nap, than grow up thinking that they can do what they want and someone else will make things better for them if it doesn’t work out for them.
    Thank you for leading/discipling young people, teaching/showing them the value of integrity. Doing what you said you would do, even if it is going to cost more than anticipated.

  • it’s funny you’re posting about this. a friend and i were just discussing this a couple of days ago. my friend made a point of how over the past few years there has been a sharp incline in the number of college students who are developing anxiety disorders because their parents protected them so much that when they go to college and their parents can’t protect them anymore and they begin to fail at something.

    we also discussed how this creates a sense of entitlement within kids. have worked in a therapeutic environment i have seen this time and time again. their parents have always bailed them out so every adult that they have some kind of relationship with should work that hard to protect them

  • 2 things:
    as a i plan the orientation program for new students at the college i work at, there is intentional dicussion about how to get parents to leave! parents want to stay in the room with the kids sometimes even. you can see it on the faces of the students they want their parents out of there but the parents can’t release.

    second, does the book address families outside of the economic bracket where they actually have time to smother the kids and make demands and afford pre-k care for their kids? I don’t know many parents who are actually doing this in the metro ny environment…

  • And what about the parents who make their kids feel guilty when they want them to leave…wanting to grow up…wanting their independence. My parents have held this against me my whole life. They made some poor decisions when I was younger, and they have made me pay for it my entire life…by smothering me…and making me feel guilty and bad when I don’t want to be smothered. They still make me feel bad…to this day that I choose to live in IL with my husband, while they remain in TN. They tell me that if I moved back home THEY could do SO MUCH for me. They want my life to be problem and trouble free…but on their terms. That is the problem with this…it always comes at a cost.

    Yet I read this and I strangely wonder if I participate in this strange kind of parenting. How do you stop? It really does hurt to have to watch your children get consequences…even silly consequences like no dessert or going to bed early. It hurts when they blame you because they know you can fix it. God probably feels similarly. He lets us face our consequences so that we can change…yet instead of changing we get mad at him for our consequences, knowing that he could speak into them at any time and take them away. That is why there are so many churches with Christian babies. We don’t face consequences…we don’t change…we get mad at God…and we never grow.

  • Christi,

    Will cover it some in tomorrow’s blog. I recommend “How to Really Love Your Child” by Ross Campbell.

  • That is too true. It has created an epidemic in my generation (20 somethings) of young adults who are indecisive, incapable of managing money, can’t think through their decisions, and are living at home or living off of friends.

    My husband and I are taking pains to bring up our children learning responsibility to avoid how much pain the smothering type of parenting causes in the future.

    I still have trouble with my parents smothering me and enabling me to continue with lazy behaviors or not planning well enough and then expecting them to bail me out. I have to refuse my mother’s help almost daily now that we live in the same town as them.

    Parents: have the confidence to parent with the future in mind! Raise your children up in the way they should go – raise them so that one day they won’t need you, because one day you won’t be there.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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