Hara Estroff Marano has an interesting article on the Psychology Today web site about how American kids are being so babied, pampered and catered to that they are becoming wimps. Soft, sissies, fragile little baby boys...
As a dad who is raising young kids at this stage in my life I realize how much of this is happening with kids. Here is a world of purell sanitizer put on kids after every door knob, pads placed on every inch of the body just to ride a bike, and fear of failure pressed upon kids at every turn in the educational mess of many sectors of public education. Here are a few exerpts:
Behold the wholly sanitized childhood, without skinned knees or the occasional C in history. "Kids need to feel badly sometimes," says child psychologist David Elkind, professor at Tufts University. "We learn through experience and we learn through bad experiences. Through failure we learn how to cope."
Messing up, however, even in the playground, is wildly out of style. Although error and experimentation are the true mothers of success, parents are taking pains to remove failure from the equation.
But taking all the discomfort, disappointment and even the play out of development, especially while increasing pressure for success, turns out to be misguided by just about 180 degrees. With few challenges all their own, kids are unable to forge their creative adaptations to the normal vicissitudes of life. That not only makes them risk-averse, it makes them psychologically fragile, riddled with anxiety. In the process they're robbed of identity, meaning and a sense of accomplishment, to say nothing of a shot at real happiness. Forget, too, about perseverance, not simply a moral virtue but a necessary life skill. These turn out to be the spreading psychic fault lines of 21st-century youth. Whether we want to or not, we're on our way to creating a nation of wimps.
A Nation of Wimps, Psychology Today, accessed 9/9/2006, emphasis added.
This article shows the results of the self-esteem, self-protecting, self-obsessed, self-help, self-inventing society. The article has very telling statistics of how kids raised in this sort of culture are turning out when they hit the college campus.
I personally do not want to raise a bunch of wimps in my house. To be honest I am praying two things for my new born son: 1) That he would fear and know the God of grace 2) That he will be tough to hold things down in a fallen and violent world.
My personal concern is that the coming generations have nothing to die for and therefore they will have nothing to live for. I long for my own kids to be able to echo that ancient truth:
As it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Philippians 1:20-21
It is a sad fact that the gospel to the modern world is "To live is to be safe, to avoid premature death, and seek self-centered security" And this will produce nothing but girly-men who will not be able to protect the good in their communities. Such civilizations will fall.