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Is 18 the New 8?

In her book released last fall, Deceptively Delicious, Jessica Seinfeld slips chickpeas into her chocolate chip cookies and purees butternut squash into her mac and cheese. The general premise is that kid food is fried and white. But if you can slip in something on the sly—say, cauliflower into mashed potatoes, or sweet potato into pancakes—then you can trick your kids into eating the stuff you want them to, minus the tantrums and tears.

Jessica, who is married to the comic Jerry Seinfeld, has been in the news of late because Missy Chase Lapine, who authored a similar book, called The Sneaky Chef, insists that Deceptively Delicious is nothing but a riff on her ideas. The Seinfelds contest that.

But whatever. The problem isn’t whether Jessica was the first mother to hide flaxseed in chicken nuggets and then write about it. The problem is, as Wall Street Journal‘s Raymond Sokolov wrote a few weeks ago, “These women treat vegetables the way Victorian mothers treated sex, with silence.”

Or, as Stefania Pomponi Butler says, “The bottom line is this: I don’t want my food to be deceptively delicious. I want it to be delicious. Full stop.”

In other words, instead of encouraging kids to try new foods, or simply including them in a meal, the cookbooks infantilize kids’ tastes by both removing choices and pandering to the lowest common denominator in their developing palates, Stefania and others suggest. Instead of simply setting vegetables on the dinner table, gloriously naked and recognizable, the authors suggest that you pull one over on your kids and veil the veggies as something else entirely: macaroni, nuggets, pancakes. You know the stuff.

Food is only part of it. A year or so ago, Verizon and Sprint launched new cell-phone service that alerts you if your kids wander beyond a perimeter that you set for them. Around that time, the Boston Globe wrote about how state and national ruling bodies for youth soccer leagues have recommended that scores and standings not be kept in under-10 leagues, saying it’s best not to track “winners” and “losers.” My 11-year-old daughter’s town soccer team doesn’t keep score, either.

All of these seemingly unrelated things actually are linked. They seem to speak to good intentions gone slightly awry: as if our need to protect our kids has morphed into a tendency to infantilize them. I wonder—about my own two kids and their friends and the generation at large—are we doing them any favors? Is all of this supervision and control and hiding vegetables helping them grow up? Or is it really keeping them young?

At 11 and 16, my own two kids have little of the freedom I did at their age. It’s not that their afternoons are packed with lessons and tutoring and practices. Because they aren’t… although we have our share of all three. It’s just that their lives are more choreographed and coordinated than mine ever was. The older one has a cell phone, and on those free afternoons when he is on his own, he must check in with me when, for example, he walks from the park to Sean’s house. If he does that, Sean’s mother must be home, because I will ask him to hand the phone to her.

Occasionally I compare this to my own 16-year-old self: When I was his age, I had a lot more freedom (and flat-out free time). I’d already made some teenage mistakes and learned a thing or two from them; I’d already experienced a few things in life that I’m certain—more or less—my son hasn’t. Nothing truly serious, but enough to raise the hairs on the back of my neck.

With access to the Internet and technology, my son may be more sophisticated than I was at his age. But, frankly, I was wiser.

Which is frustrating for a parent to realize, and it makes me wonder about the ripple effects of our supervised playtimes, hidden vegetables, and cell-phone leashes. It also makes me wonder what the downside is to a culture increasingly skewed toward staying younger longer.

Sure, 40 is the new 30. But does that make 18 the new 8?

Sokolov writes, “Very few childhood bedwetters go off to college with rubber sheets. Picky eaters also mature….”

That is, if we let them.

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48 Responses to Is 18 the New 8?

  1. Lewis Green says:

    Ann,

    Far be it from me to be an expert on raising kids. I am not. So the following represent opinions only: Freedom is the best and the fastest teacher, because it leads to experiences and the willingness to take calculated risks. We have to allow children to fail on their own, if they are to reach a level of independence necessary for going to college or for getting a job. I don’t think America is doing a good job of raising independent, freedom loving, maturing naturally children.

  2. Lewis Green says:

    Ann,

    Far be it from me to be an expert on raising kids. I am not. So the following represent opinions only: Freedom is the best and the fastest teacher, because it leads to experiences and the willingness to take calculated risks. We have to allow children to fail on their own, if they are to reach a level of independence necessary for going to college or for getting a job. I don’t think America is doing a good job of raising independent, freedom loving, maturing naturally children.

  3. Nicholas says:

    Couldn’t agree more, Ann. This TED talk by Gever Tulley, 5 dangerous things you should let your kids do, seems to dovetail nicely with your thoughts.

  4. Nicholas says:

    Couldn’t agree more, Ann. This TED talk by Gever Tulley, 5 dangerous things you should let your kids do, seems to dovetail nicely with your thoughts.

  5. Ann Handley says:

    Lewis — Thanks so much for your comments/support as always! My take is that the intentions are good — but consequences not so good, however unintended.

    Nicholas — Excellent call out… the TED talk video dovetails nicely. The money quote in that Gever’s talk, paraphrased: “As the safety zone in which we place our children grows smaller, we cut off opportunities for them to learn about the world around them. “

  6. Ann Handley says:

    Lewis — Thanks so much for your comments/support as always! My take is that the intentions are good — but consequences not so good, however unintended.

    Nicholas — Excellent call out… the TED talk video dovetails nicely. The money quote in that Gever’s talk, paraphrased: “As the safety zone in which we place our children grows smaller, we cut off opportunities for them to learn about the world around them. “

  7. Ann, I absolutely agree. We have the same situation in the UK. My stepson feels he should be the decision-maker when it comes to choosing a new house to move to, and yet he’s never in my knowledge traveled on public transport on his own. He is 12 years old. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. The internet (and I love it, love it, it changed my life) has a lot to answer for. Kids are savvy, they think they know anything about anything, because you can look it up on the net. But in response, adults have become scared. They worry about what their kids are doing, seeing, saying on the net. They drive them everywhere. They micro manage every part of their existence. I never see 12 yr olds playing (or even walking) in the neighbourhood anymore. The press make things worse and worse. What’s the answer?

  8. Ann, I absolutely agree. We have the same situation in the UK. My stepson feels he should be the decision-maker when it comes to choosing a new house to move to, and yet he’s never in my knowledge traveled on public transport on his own. He is 12 years old. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. The internet (and I love it, love it, it changed my life) has a lot to answer for. Kids are savvy, they think they know anything about anything, because you can look it up on the net. But in response, adults have become scared. They worry about what their kids are doing, seeing, saying on the net. They drive them everywhere. They micro manage every part of their existence. I never see 12 yr olds playing (or even walking) in the neighbourhood anymore. The press make things worse and worse. What’s the answer?

  9. Stephen says:

    Chris Brogan mentioned this post to me. It’s a good one. I wholeheartedly agree.

  10. Stephen says:

    Chris Brogan mentioned this post to me. It’s a good one. I wholeheartedly agree.

  11. Greg says:

    Ann,

    I am the cook in my house. I make one meal a night, if there are vegetables involved (which most of the time there are) my 7 year old is told to try them. If he doesn’t like them, I do not force him to eat them, I remember that he doesn’t like them and do not serve them as often. For instance, he doesn’t like asparagus (big surprise) so if I want asparagus, I’ll make some snow peas (which he does like) as well. I can’t imagine why I would want to go to all the extra effort of hiding vegetables in food.

    Additionally, I am honestly quite frightened by the loss of freedom that my son’s generation is experiencing. I live in the same general area where I grew up and the activity that was present when I was a child has disappeared completely. Gone is the sandlot baseball, pickup basketball and kids running around playing outside.

    I guarantee you that I had a lot more freedom at 16 than my 7 year old will have, my fear is that it will be not because of me, but because of increased restrictions. When I was 16 I had my own car, a job and a curfew. My parents were not constantly checking up on me because they trusted me (and I’m only 27 so it wasn’t that long ago.) Has it gotten so bad that we can’t trust our kids to make their own decisions and learn from the consequences?

  12. Greg says:

    Ann,

    I am the cook in my house. I make one meal a night, if there are vegetables involved (which most of the time there are) my 7 year old is told to try them. If he doesn’t like them, I do not force him to eat them, I remember that he doesn’t like them and do not serve them as often. For instance, he doesn’t like asparagus (big surprise) so if I want asparagus, I’ll make some snow peas (which he does like) as well. I can’t imagine why I would want to go to all the extra effort of hiding vegetables in food.

    Additionally, I am honestly quite frightened by the loss of freedom that my son’s generation is experiencing. I live in the same general area where I grew up and the activity that was present when I was a child has disappeared completely. Gone is the sandlot baseball, pickup basketball and kids running around playing outside.

    I guarantee you that I had a lot more freedom at 16 than my 7 year old will have, my fear is that it will be not because of me, but because of increased restrictions. When I was 16 I had my own car, a job and a curfew. My parents were not constantly checking up on me because they trusted me (and I’m only 27 so it wasn’t that long ago.) Has it gotten so bad that we can’t trust our kids to make their own decisions and learn from the consequences?

  13. Meg says:

    Ann-

    Well put. The recognition is easier than the fix, no?

    I hated tomatoes when I was 5. Now I don’t. I have no idea when I started liking them (sometime between 5-25), because for the longest time I refused them. My kids try food they don’t like- even just a bite, because today might be the day that they like it.

    But that’s not what it’s about. As you explain, our kids are much more accountable for their time, and kids get trophies just for showing up.

    I wonder if there are more accidents/injuries/stupid things happening as college freshman now because until then the leashes are held more tightly than ever before.

    But I don’t think these are all trust issues. Or- trusting our kids issues.

    Thought provoking,

    Megin

  14. Meg says:

    Ann-

    Well put. The recognition is easier than the fix, no?

    I hated tomatoes when I was 5. Now I don’t. I have no idea when I started liking them (sometime between 5-25), because for the longest time I refused them. My kids try food they don’t like- even just a bite, because today might be the day that they like it.

    But that’s not what it’s about. As you explain, our kids are much more accountable for their time, and kids get trophies just for showing up.

    I wonder if there are more accidents/injuries/stupid things happening as college freshman now because until then the leashes are held more tightly than ever before.

    But I don’t think these are all trust issues. Or- trusting our kids issues.

    Thought provoking,

    Megin

  15. Jon Burg says:

    Sure, we shelter our kids, at times ironically from their own growth. But if our parents really knew what we were doing, would we have been able to get away with it?

    The main issue at play here (in my book) is the need for active ignorance. We need to learn to turn off the parenting, and let kids make some mistakes.

    I hated this term when I heard it as a kid, but we need to give them the room to “develop character”.

    My High School Headmaster was actually quite good at this. He allowed us to make mistakes. He allowed us to do dumb things. And then he made us fix those mistakes. The process taught us maturity and responsibility.

    He encouraged us to be angry teenagers by directing and channeling that energy. While my friends in other schools did their rebellious thing, we shouted out at the system by channeling our energies into socially productive causes. We fought for human rights issues. We got the attention teenagers seek, by successfully lobbying major national politicians to support our causes, and then holding rallies as press events. We were on the news. We had the first lady visit our school and congratulate us on our efforts. We were cool. We were local celebrities for a day. And we learned responsibility.

    We made mistakes along the way. And we learned from them.

    It takes a confident parent to let their kids make mistakes. It’s takes a responsible parent to learn when to “stop” parenting… and when to start again.

  16. Jon Burg says:

    Sure, we shelter our kids, at times ironically from their own growth. But if our parents really knew what we were doing, would we have been able to get away with it?

    The main issue at play here (in my book) is the need for active ignorance. We need to learn to turn off the parenting, and let kids make some mistakes.

    I hated this term when I heard it as a kid, but we need to give them the room to “develop character”.

    My High School Headmaster was actually quite good at this. He allowed us to make mistakes. He allowed us to do dumb things. And then he made us fix those mistakes. The process taught us maturity and responsibility.

    He encouraged us to be angry teenagers by directing and channeling that energy. While my friends in other schools did their rebellious thing, we shouted out at the system by channeling our energies into socially productive causes. We fought for human rights issues. We got the attention teenagers seek, by successfully lobbying major national politicians to support our causes, and then holding rallies as press events. We were on the news. We had the first lady visit our school and congratulate us on our efforts. We were cool. We were local celebrities for a day. And we learned responsibility.

    We made mistakes along the way. And we learned from them.

    It takes a confident parent to let their kids make mistakes. It’s takes a responsible parent to learn when to “stop” parenting… and when to start again.

  17. John says:

    You know, we ran around the backyard, skateboarded, rode our bikes with no hands, roller skated on the pavement of our cul de sac, never wore seatbelts (OK, I do not recommend that one), climbed trees, played on the jungle gym, swung so high we thought we’d fly, went down the slide headfirst, skated on the natural ice of the nearby pond, rode our bikes to the town green (across the big street!), and whirled around on the that big metal round thing at the playground (what was that called?) till we threw up. Later we took the bus to the mall – changing buses in scary downtown Bridgeport, CT! – with no adults around. By high school we were riding the train to Manhattan and (gasp!) taking taking the subway to the Village instead of sticking by the museums and trying to pretend we were over 18 at the White Horse Tavern. And we went on to become productive, healthy citizens.

    I feel really sorry for today’s suburban kids, trapped in their subdivisions. In my 50s-style hometown (in the 70s) we had the attitude that we could go as far as we could walk, run, or pedal, and our parents never tried to convince us otherwise. So we explored the world around us.

    Surfing the net doesn’t quite cut it.

  18. John says:

    You know, we ran around the backyard, skateboarded, rode our bikes with no hands, roller skated on the pavement of our cul de sac, never wore seatbelts (OK, I do not recommend that one), climbed trees, played on the jungle gym, swung so high we thought we’d fly, went down the slide headfirst, skated on the natural ice of the nearby pond, rode our bikes to the town green (across the big street!), and whirled around on the that big metal round thing at the playground (what was that called?) till we threw up. Later we took the bus to the mall – changing buses in scary downtown Bridgeport, CT! – with no adults around. By high school we were riding the train to Manhattan and (gasp!) taking taking the subway to the Village instead of sticking by the museums and trying to pretend we were over 18 at the White Horse Tavern. And we went on to become productive, healthy citizens.

    I feel really sorry for today’s suburban kids, trapped in their subdivisions. In my 50s-style hometown (in the 70s) we had the attitude that we could go as far as we could walk, run, or pedal, and our parents never tried to convince us otherwise. So we explored the world around us.

    Surfing the net doesn’t quite cut it.

  19. Kelly Rusk says:

    What I want to know is how seemingly all children learn to hate healthy food, and love the most unhealthy food? I mean yes, it tastes good, but so does a lot of good food!

    Anyway, pondering aside, great post, very insightful!

  20. Kelly Rusk says:

    What I want to know is how seemingly all children learn to hate healthy food, and love the most unhealthy food? I mean yes, it tastes good, but so does a lot of good food!

    Anyway, pondering aside, great post, very insightful!

  21. Ann Handley says:

    Greg said: “Has it gotten so bad that we can’t trust our kids to make their own decisions and learn from the consequences?”

    I guess that question is answered in part by Jon, when he says, “But if our parents really knew what we were doing, would we have been able to get away with it?”

    I guess today’s parents are pretty well aware of the kind of trouble that’s easy to get into. Add all of the modern terrors — internet and its glorious “access” of many kinds among them — and I’m about ready to wrap my kids in bubble wrap and lock them in a closet til they’re 21. I know it’s not the best strategy to raising healthy and savvy kids.. nevertheless, the temptation is there. And hence this post.

    To quote Meg above, “The recognition is easier than the fix, no?” Yes!

    Thanks for the comments, all!

  22. Ann Handley says:

    Greg said: “Has it gotten so bad that we can’t trust our kids to make their own decisions and learn from the consequences?”

    I guess that question is answered in part by Jon, when he says, “But if our parents really knew what we were doing, would we have been able to get away with it?”

    I guess today’s parents are pretty well aware of the kind of trouble that’s easy to get into. Add all of the modern terrors — internet and its glorious “access” of many kinds among them — and I’m about ready to wrap my kids in bubble wrap and lock them in a closet til they’re 21. I know it’s not the best strategy to raising healthy and savvy kids.. nevertheless, the temptation is there. And hence this post.

    To quote Meg above, “The recognition is easier than the fix, no?” Yes!

    Thanks for the comments, all!

  23. Bdot says:

    Hiding veggies in the mac and cheese, not keeping score, I just don’t get it.
    Possibly that’s why my mac and cheese just doesn’t taste the same. Maybe that’s why some of my younger co-workers just don’t understand about winning and loosing or the difference between truth and b.s. (sorry, I guess it’s called spin these days).

    Back in the day….winning was everything, and when we lost there was a reason. My impression is today it’s all about laying blame…..i.e. my kid is fat (or whatever they call it today, weight challenged?) because your kid brought in the cupcakes…..

    “Have it your way” isn’t just an old advertising slogan, it’s now a lifestyle excuse…..generation eXcuses!

  24. Bdot says:

    Hiding veggies in the mac and cheese, not keeping score, I just don’t get it.
    Possibly that’s why my mac and cheese just doesn’t taste the same. Maybe that’s why some of my younger co-workers just don’t understand about winning and loosing or the difference between truth and b.s. (sorry, I guess it’s called spin these days).

    Back in the day….winning was everything, and when we lost there was a reason. My impression is today it’s all about laying blame…..i.e. my kid is fat (or whatever they call it today, weight challenged?) because your kid brought in the cupcakes…..

    “Have it your way” isn’t just an old advertising slogan, it’s now a lifestyle excuse…..generation eXcuses!

  25. Jen says:

    Why don’t you ease up a little then? I don’t get why he has to check in with you and you talk to the other kid’s mom unless he has violated your trust in some way in the past.

  26. Jen says:

    Why don’t you ease up a little then? I don’t get why he has to check in with you and you talk to the other kid’s mom unless he has violated your trust in some way in the past.

  27. Ann Handley says:

    Jen: Well, the answer to “why” is part of the idea of this post itself — in short, because I *can*, because technology allows me to.

    Parents generally worry about things we can control, and let go of the things we can’t control, but my point in part is that technology allows us to control more. Had my mother had a cellphone, she would’ve done the same. Technology changes our behavior.

  28. Ann Handley says:

    Jen: Well, the answer to “why” is part of the idea of this post itself — in short, because I *can*, because technology allows me to.

    Parents generally worry about things we can control, and let go of the things we can’t control, but my point in part is that technology allows us to control more. Had my mother had a cellphone, she would’ve done the same. Technology changes our behavior.

  29. Tim says:

    In my day Mom didn’t hide the vegetables, you just couldn’t leave the table till you finished them.

    And in my day keeping score in any sports game was the point of the game.

    I could go on and on, but I’m seriously gonna have problems with people who think we need to protect our children from competition and anything that might hurt their feelings. I have a 1 year old and a 3 year old, and I see lots of verbal fights with school officials and stupid parents in my future.

  30. Tim says:

    In my day Mom didn’t hide the vegetables, you just couldn’t leave the table till you finished them.

    And in my day keeping score in any sports game was the point of the game.

    I could go on and on, but I’m seriously gonna have problems with people who think we need to protect our children from competition and anything that might hurt their feelings. I have a 1 year old and a 3 year old, and I see lots of verbal fights with school officials and stupid parents in my future.

  31. The fact is, it’s scarier bringing up kids these days – the social fabric that once reinforced healthy values has unraveled considerably, while access to destructive influences (via all media) has accelerated. Many are the days I’m tempted to pull it all up and hide in an Amish bubble somewhere! Yet here we are, skating the razor’s edge between trust and paranoia, and endlessly questioning whether we’re getting it right.

    No easy answers. If we had ‘em, we could make a fortune!

  32. The fact is, it’s scarier bringing up kids these days – the social fabric that once reinforced healthy values has unraveled considerably, while access to destructive influences (via all media) has accelerated. Many are the days I’m tempted to pull it all up and hide in an Amish bubble somewhere! Yet here we are, skating the razor’s edge between trust and paranoia, and endlessly questioning whether we’re getting it right.

    No easy answers. If we had ‘em, we could make a fortune!

  33. Toad says:

    Where to begin… I hear you loud and clear on the freedom thing. When I was around 9 years old, I left the house after breakfast on the weekends to go join my friends in the park (we played basketball, baseball or football, depending on the season.) We’d jump on our bikes around noon and ride to the pizza place to get lunch and then return home sometime around dinner. My parents really had no clear idea where I was (just a general trust that I was either in the park, the pizza place or a friend’s house.) And while that was pretty much SOP for parents in the 70s, you’d be arrested today if you let your 9 year old roam around like that.

    It’s not like the opportunity even exists anymore: keep your kids home from soccer leagues, ballet classes and the like and there just aren’t any kids around to play kickball with.

    Which brings us to sports. I coach several of the Tadpoles teams, none of which keep score at the lower levels. And just who do they think they’re fooling? I mean of course the kids all Pkeep score! They’re acutely aware of every goal/basket/run scored, who did it and when. Legislating competitiveness away doesn’t mean it disappears altogether. It just moves slightly underground.

    Part of our culture of overprotectiveness can be blamed on technology. Part of it on the fact that our parents weren’t aware of all the dangers out there (and that we are perhaps too aware: I often think we worry about things that aren’t real threats.) And part of it is due to the overwhelming desire to do better than our parents did, to be there for our kids and involved in their lives in a way our parents never were. (Remember, Strauss and Howe describe the self-involved parents of the 70s as one of the defining characteristics of Gen-X.)

    As for food… I ate about 5 things until I was in college. Literally. I wasn’t a big eater so if all I ate were the mashed potatoes (I didn’t much like steak as a kid) I didn’t consider that a tragedy. Now I eat just about everything… the eldest Tadpole is a picky eater too. We were once at McDonalds (a move we pretty much limit to highway rest stops during road trips, fwiw, a move helped by the absence of fast food chains in our leafy upscale burb) and he was complaining about the presence of a pickle on the burger. My wife removed the pickle, but he took a bite and said “Yuck, you can still taste it.” Whereupon, bad parent that I am, I chimed in “I know! The juice seeps in and you can totally taste it.”
    Old habits die hard, I guess.

  34. Toad says:

    Where to begin… I hear you loud and clear on the freedom thing. When I was around 9 years old, I left the house after breakfast on the weekends to go join my friends in the park (we played basketball, baseball or football, depending on the season.) We’d jump on our bikes around noon and ride to the pizza place to get lunch and then return home sometime around dinner. My parents really had no clear idea where I was (just a general trust that I was either in the park, the pizza place or a friend’s house.) And while that was pretty much SOP for parents in the 70s, you’d be arrested today if you let your 9 year old roam around like that.

    It’s not like the opportunity even exists anymore: keep your kids home from soccer leagues, ballet classes and the like and there just aren’t any kids around to play kickball with.

    Which brings us to sports. I coach several of the Tadpoles teams, none of which keep score at the lower levels. And just who do they think they’re fooling? I mean of course the kids all Pkeep score! They’re acutely aware of every goal/basket/run scored, who did it and when. Legislating competitiveness away doesn’t mean it disappears altogether. It just moves slightly underground.

    Part of our culture of overprotectiveness can be blamed on technology. Part of it on the fact that our parents weren’t aware of all the dangers out there (and that we are perhaps too aware: I often think we worry about things that aren’t real threats.) And part of it is due to the overwhelming desire to do better than our parents did, to be there for our kids and involved in their lives in a way our parents never were. (Remember, Strauss and Howe describe the self-involved parents of the 70s as one of the defining characteristics of Gen-X.)

    As for food… I ate about 5 things until I was in college. Literally. I wasn’t a big eater so if all I ate were the mashed potatoes (I didn’t much like steak as a kid) I didn’t consider that a tragedy. Now I eat just about everything… the eldest Tadpole is a picky eater too. We were once at McDonalds (a move we pretty much limit to highway rest stops during road trips, fwiw, a move helped by the absence of fast food chains in our leafy upscale burb) and he was complaining about the presence of a pickle on the burger. My wife removed the pickle, but he took a bite and said “Yuck, you can still taste it.” Whereupon, bad parent that I am, I chimed in “I know! The juice seeps in and you can totally taste it.”
    Old habits die hard, I guess.

  35. Dusan says:

    Ann, you have hit the target absolutely. Yet just expecting the first child I’m quite into kids and having experience with them.

    And I don’t live in America, yet the same thing here. Parents fear can be seen in the streets. No kids, just every once in a while some of them on bikes – alone, wow.

    And in my childhood it was like Toad explained. We went out in the morning, came back in the evening sometimes. And yes, some of us even got broken arms and legs. Wow, that was a pain.

    And if I didn’t eat that meal, I could be just
    left hungry until next meal. And here I am. All grown up and healthy. Even tough I didn’t eat some meals.

    It is wrong to overprotect and I can’t be more sure of something. I see some young people that were born in 90′s comming into jobs these days or taking their first students jobs. They are spoiled, demanding and have hard time working as a part of a team. They would all like to be on the top, even tough they don’t have the abbilities yet. And mostly they don’t know how to fail. If you talk to them about their weakness, they react emotionally, even leaving the job. You can just praise them if you want to keep them.

    And they grew in simmilar environment, since the 90′s were very “keep them safe” in Slovenia.

    Another thing is their school-time. Teachers can’t say anything to them. They are so protected, that if a teacher even tries to give them a harder school-work, the parents come in next day with tons of unfriendly talk. Protecting their child. The nex thing – kids don’t take their teachers seriously.

    Yet that ain’t protection. It’s about teaching them that there’s allways somebody watching them and taking care that nothing bad happens. And that just ain’t going to happen.

    There will come times that they will be alone in their life. Prepare them for those moments. If you love them. :-)

  36. Dusan says:

    Ann, you have hit the target absolutely. Yet just expecting the first child I’m quite into kids and having experience with them.

    And I don’t live in America, yet the same thing here. Parents fear can be seen in the streets. No kids, just every once in a while some of them on bikes – alone, wow.

    And in my childhood it was like Toad explained. We went out in the morning, came back in the evening sometimes. And yes, some of us even got broken arms and legs. Wow, that was a pain.

    And if I didn’t eat that meal, I could be just
    left hungry until next meal. And here I am. All grown up and healthy. Even tough I didn’t eat some meals.

    It is wrong to overprotect and I can’t be more sure of something. I see some young people that were born in 90′s comming into jobs these days or taking their first students jobs. They are spoiled, demanding and have hard time working as a part of a team. They would all like to be on the top, even tough they don’t have the abbilities yet. And mostly they don’t know how to fail. If you talk to them about their weakness, they react emotionally, even leaving the job. You can just praise them if you want to keep them.

    And they grew in simmilar environment, since the 90′s were very “keep them safe” in Slovenia.

    Another thing is their school-time. Teachers can’t say anything to them. They are so protected, that if a teacher even tries to give them a harder school-work, the parents come in next day with tons of unfriendly talk. Protecting their child. The nex thing – kids don’t take their teachers seriously.

    Yet that ain’t protection. It’s about teaching them that there’s allways somebody watching them and taking care that nothing bad happens. And that just ain’t going to happen.

    There will come times that they will be alone in their life. Prepare them for those moments. If you love them. :-)

  37. Christian Gulliksen says:

    I had lunch with my mother a few days ago and this book — which she just bought for my sister — came up.

    She raised us at the opposite extreme, on the guidance of our Malibu nutritionist. (How ’70s, right?) Ours was a primarily vegetarian diet with dinners dominated by brown rice with steamed broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. We were allowed a little butter and a “liquid amino” seasoning called Braggs, which is just as appetizing as it sounds. All our groceries came from co-ops and health food stores like (I still remember the name) Follow Your Heart in the Valley.

    She wishes now that she hadn’t been so hardcore. On the one hand, we were extraordinarily healthy. (I can’t recall ever going to the doctor, except for check-ups, and the first time I ever took an antibiotic was as a teenager when I got an ear infection.) On the other, it was a total drag, and as an adult I still refuse to eat most of the staples from my childhood diet.

    I guess the middle ground seems the most sensible route — sneak some stuff in, leave others out in the open.

  38. Christian Gulliksen says:

    I had lunch with my mother a few days ago and this book — which she just bought for my sister — came up.

    She raised us at the opposite extreme, on the guidance of our Malibu nutritionist. (How ’70s, right?) Ours was a primarily vegetarian diet with dinners dominated by brown rice with steamed broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. We were allowed a little butter and a “liquid amino” seasoning called Braggs, which is just as appetizing as it sounds. All our groceries came from co-ops and health food stores like (I still remember the name) Follow Your Heart in the Valley.

    She wishes now that she hadn’t been so hardcore. On the one hand, we were extraordinarily healthy. (I can’t recall ever going to the doctor, except for check-ups, and the first time I ever took an antibiotic was as a teenager when I got an ear infection.) On the other, it was a total drag, and as an adult I still refuse to eat most of the staples from my childhood diet.

    I guess the middle ground seems the most sensible route — sneak some stuff in, leave others out in the open.

  39. Shelley says:

    Weird. I read your posting right after Michael Ruhlman’s rant on America’s Fat Problem.

    I often wonder about how my overprotective parenting tendencies will affect Kinsey as an adult. But then I remember one of my favorite quotes: “Have I been a bad mother? After all, my children CAN afford their own therapy.”

  40. Shelley says:

    Weird. I read your posting right after Michael Ruhlman’s rant on America’s Fat Problem.

    I often wonder about how my overprotective parenting tendencies will affect Kinsey as an adult. But then I remember one of my favorite quotes: “Have I been a bad mother? After all, my children CAN afford their own therapy.”

  41. Michele says:

    I guess I just don’t see what the big deal is. I wasn’t fond of vegetables growing up. What kid is?

    I eat them now. I’m not overweight or with serious health problems.

    I don’t think making your kid sit at the dinner table for an hour chewing up and spitting out peas for an hour after everyone else has finished makes you a better Mom than the Mom that takes the seemingly easy way out.

    The truth is forcing your kids to sit and eat food they don’t want to eat is keeping them infantalized as well. Don’t you want your child to make the right choices even when you aren’t there? If you keep the junkfood out of your home they will have no choice but to either eat the food or not.

    The real problem is the family that offers healthy food for dinner, doesn’t ‘make’ the child eat it, but allows a bag of chips two hours afterward because the child is hungry. That’s a bigger no-no than hiding veggies in the food.

    Or if you really want to concern yourself with America’s Fat problems…Why don’t we first battle the reason why America has become this way in the first place…And I don’t think that reason is hidden.

  42. Michele says:

    I guess I just don’t see what the big deal is. I wasn’t fond of vegetables growing up. What kid is?

    I eat them now. I’m not overweight or with serious health problems.

    I don’t think making your kid sit at the dinner table for an hour chewing up and spitting out peas for an hour after everyone else has finished makes you a better Mom than the Mom that takes the seemingly easy way out.

    The truth is forcing your kids to sit and eat food they don’t want to eat is keeping them infantalized as well. Don’t you want your child to make the right choices even when you aren’t there? If you keep the junkfood out of your home they will have no choice but to either eat the food or not.

    The real problem is the family that offers healthy food for dinner, doesn’t ‘make’ the child eat it, but allows a bag of chips two hours afterward because the child is hungry. That’s a bigger no-no than hiding veggies in the food.

    Or if you really want to concern yourself with America’s Fat problems…Why don’t we first battle the reason why America has become this way in the first place…And I don’t think that reason is hidden.

  43. Whitney says:

    There’s a great talk over at TED called 5 Dangerous Things you Should Let Your Kids do”- and I think we have to stop infantilizing kids so much and let them grow up, scaffolding independence and responsibility- if we never let them practice these skills, they’ll never learn them.

  44. Whitney says:

    There’s a great talk over at TED called 5 Dangerous Things you Should Let Your Kids do”- and I think we have to stop infantilizing kids so much and let them grow up, scaffolding independence and responsibility- if we never let them practice these skills, they’ll never learn them.

  45. I’ve been thinking about your excellent post a lot these last few days. It touches on so much I’m concerned about as a parent.

    I’ve read that the media and news reports of crimes and abductions are completely overblown and don’t represent real levels of risk out there. This instills so much fear, perhaps completely unwarranted. Yet none of us can prove how safe the world is, so we err on the cautious side.

    When I was a kid, we rode our bikes everywhere and had to find our own way back when we got lost (no cell phones to call for rescue). I’m proud of these experiences I had, when I look back on them. I’d love to encourage my child to ride bikes and explore aimlessly, but it would be alone: I never see other kids even riding bikes in the neighborhood or even walking to the store by themselves. This really saddens me.

    Now for the veggies: hiding them is a bad idea. Often kids don’t like a certain food for a very valid reason. “It tastes yucky” is a good reason in my book. Adults don’t like to eat things that taste gross to them — why should kids?

    Instead of food trickery, parents should be open to conversations with their kids about likes and dislikes. That way, parents learn more about their own kids, kids can find veggies they truly like, and there is no bond of trust broken. Win-win!

    Like on the Web, an authentic, transparent conversation is the way to go.

    Did I mention that I really like your post? ;-)

  46. I’ve been thinking about your excellent post a lot these last few days. It touches on so much I’m concerned about as a parent.

    I’ve read that the media and news reports of crimes and abductions are completely overblown and don’t represent real levels of risk out there. This instills so much fear, perhaps completely unwarranted. Yet none of us can prove how safe the world is, so we err on the cautious side.

    When I was a kid, we rode our bikes everywhere and had to find our own way back when we got lost (no cell phones to call for rescue). I’m proud of these experiences I had, when I look back on them. I’d love to encourage my child to ride bikes and explore aimlessly, but it would be alone: I never see other kids even riding bikes in the neighborhood or even walking to the store by themselves. This really saddens me.

    Now for the veggies: hiding them is a bad idea. Often kids don’t like a certain food for a very valid reason. “It tastes yucky” is a good reason in my book. Adults don’t like to eat things that taste gross to them — why should kids?

    Instead of food trickery, parents should be open to conversations with their kids about likes and dislikes. That way, parents learn more about their own kids, kids can find veggies they truly like, and there is no bond of trust broken. Win-win!

    Like on the Web, an authentic, transparent conversation is the way to go.

    Did I mention that I really like your post? ;-)

  47. Beth Mazin says:

    Isn’t part of the problem that there just aren’t kids around the neighborhood much anymore? They’re mostly being driven to programmed activities. Would you give your kids more freedom and free time if there were other kids around to do things with?

    I personally wasn’t a very attentive parent. I was thrilled (in the 80s and early 90s) if my kids were away doing something and leaving me alone. I didn’t ask TOO many questions. I didn’t nag about homework – took too much energy. I didn’t think much about what they ate – too frustrating. I didn’t hassle them about grades – that was their business. I didn’t wait at the bus stop with them – I wanted to drink coffe and read the paper.

    They seemed to grow up just fine. They have their complaints about me – you didn’t give me a good work ethic, you didn’t make me get enough sleep, you should have paid me for every A, yada yada yada. But they are gainfully employed and not in jail.

    I did make them clean up their rooms. I hated the argument that it was their space to do with what they wanted. We all have our limits.

  48. Beth Mazin says:

    Isn’t part of the problem that there just aren’t kids around the neighborhood much anymore? They’re mostly being driven to programmed activities. Would you give your kids more freedom and free time if there were other kids around to do things with?

    I personally wasn’t a very attentive parent. I was thrilled (in the 80s and early 90s) if my kids were away doing something and leaving me alone. I didn’t ask TOO many questions. I didn’t nag about homework – took too much energy. I didn’t think much about what they ate – too frustrating. I didn’t hassle them about grades – that was their business. I didn’t wait at the bus stop with them – I wanted to drink coffe and read the paper.

    They seemed to grow up just fine. They have their complaints about me – you didn’t give me a good work ethic, you didn’t make me get enough sleep, you should have paid me for every A, yada yada yada. But they are gainfully employed and not in jail.

    I did make them clean up their rooms. I hated the argument that it was their space to do with what they wanted. We all have our limits.

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