Saturday, March 31, 2007

Parentolescent

Learnt a great new word from reading this essay by an self-confessed over-involved dad - 'dadolescent'. Turning that gender neutral would give us parentolescent. Over zealous parents must have existed since time immemorial but only when the average number of kids in the household came down two or less did its full force come to bear.

Today's parents will pull words out of Vanity Fair magazine while waiting in the dentist's office to prep their kid for the spelling bee, nearly fall off their seats in their enthusiasm over their progeny's efforts on stage or on the playground with decibel levels to match. They will bore friends and family to tears by recounting the latest and greatest on their child's impressive roster of accomplishments every time they get an opportunity.

Enrolling kids to everything imaginable and possible is another venerated sign of adequate parenting and peer pressure to outdo the soccer mom next door is real and oppressing. You begin to second guess yourself and sign your child up for just about anything so her days would not go by fruitless and empty.

Spare time in a child's life is the enemy that must be stamped out with finality. The mantra seems to be : keep the kids so busy that they have no time to be up to no good. The general idea is that if you shove them in many random directions like a human cannon ball going off in the dark, sometimes they will strike the bulls eye; something will stick in the end. That would be your prize.

You have to keep trying until that happens or your little cherub is old enough to say "Quit trying to run my life like a project" whichever comes first. The dadolescent in the essay was trying to be uber-dad who is there in body and spirit for his son all the time. He tries desperately hard to do right by his boy, overcompensate lest he be viewed as distant and aloof. But there is such a thing as too much of a good thing even when being a good parent:

There is today an epidemic of dads who won't let go – helicopter fathers, some call them, because they're always hovering. They try too hard, care too much, fret incessantly. You see these guys in a frenzy of parental concern, building backyard batting cages for their kids, hiring tutors and coaches, second-guessing teachers, or enrolling them in placekickers school when they're 9.


There was a time when one of the worst things you could say about a father was that he was distant and aloof, that he was never there for his kid. But my generation, having become fathers, seems bent on guaranteeing that we'll never be accused of not having time for our kids. We'll never miss a school play or a T-ball game, never let our kids navigate a single experience alone
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