Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Bubble Wrap Generation Goes to College

A while ago, I mentioned in a blog post that one of the reasons that I haven't reproduced was the environmental impact of having a child. But as a I mentioned in that posting, that was a minor reason. The major reasons were much more personal: financial and health. When we weighed the options, the joy of having a child were outweighed by the others. The environmental impact of having a child was piled on as another good reason. Another minor reason that I can pile into the mix is that I don't like how children are reared these days. Too many parents are over-protective. Of course, this not a good reason not to have kids, because no matter when you have a child, there are going to be other parents with styles that are incompatible with yours. I am sure many wouldn't like mine, if I had one.

The definition that the Urban Dictionary has for the Bubble Wrap Generation is very different from the one I use.  I use the term to describe parents that are so protective of their children that they might as well cover them in bubble wrap before they leave the house. This is prevalent in the suburbs where the family is wealthy enough to have at least one parent without a full-time paying job. These are the kids that don't leave the house without knee pads and that aren't allowed to do anything without adult supervision. When I was school age boy, I remember running around our neighborhood without any adult knowing where I was. Yes, I did get hurt sometimes and, yes, I did scrape a knee and bump my head a few times, but these were learning experiences. I healed and I learned. The thing that I learned the most was independence. How to talk my way out of a fight and how to be creative in our play. I am not sure the kids whose summers are filled with soccer camps and play dates are getting this.  Since this parenting style has been going on for years, we can see the affect this has had on them.

I have heard these parents referred to as helicopter parents. They are called this because they hover over their children. I am hearing more and more anecdotal evidence that the Bubble Wrap Generation is somewhat pathetic adults. I recently heard a story from a friend who is a professor on the West Coast that is sometimes contacted by their adult student's parent about grades. These are adult students employing their parents to fight their battles for them. This amazes me. I wouldn't have done this in high school, never mind college. This is a new phenomenon and not the first time I hear it, averaging about one student a year, I am told.

It is not just happening in college. At a prior job, someone showed up at a job interview with a parent. This was a huge red flag to not hire this person.  If they are so dependent on their parents, what kind of worker are they going to be in a professional setting? Probably not a very good one. Also, I heard another story from a teacher friend who was training a student teacher and asked for her to fill out some paper work. She said that her mother always filled out these forms for her. My friend told her, well now that you are an adult and are getting married yourself, you need to fill these out on your own.

Some might say that since I am childless that I shouldn't be commenting on parenting. I reject this notion, obviously. This would be like saying that if you don't own a gun then you don't have a right to complain about gun violence. How people bring up their kids has an affect on everyone, not just their families. If takes a village to raise a child, then that village has every right to complain about shitty parenting skills. That village, also, is quite good at correcting it. I am glad to say that my professor friends have refused to deal with the parents of a adult students, but will only deal with the student directly regardless of who is footing the tuition.

I realize that people love their kids and want to protect them, but wrapping the kid in bubble does no one any good.  As a taxpayer, I am expecting the future generation to carry my generation when we retire, not to ask us to do their paper work.


Olga said...

Another scary aspect is that the kids show no inclination whatsoever to find their own apartments and move on with their lives when their parents are making it so easy to stay on in their home.

My grand children do not go out to play in their neighborhood. They have playdates. My grand son can't wait to leave home though. He wants to live with grandma. That would last for three days!

Mark Peloquin said...

I wonder how much that is on the account the economy. My sister has three kids that won't leave but at least two of them say it is because it is so expensive to rent.