This post was originally published on Expat Life in Thailand.
I am part of the Generation X, one of the last to follow the traditions of the past: Enjoying the space and freedom of growing up as a child without getting hovered over by our parents.
They say that knowledge is power, and this has largely been shown to be the case as the late 20th and early 21st centuries have witnessed many changes, out of which technological progress has led to the creation of new communications tools allowing information and knowledge to reach a mass audience. Access to knowledge is no longer limited to a few thousand of the select elite but to everyone.
This spread of knowledge has helped increase awareness on important topics that affect parenting. Parents today are fully aware of what could harm their kids both physically and emotionally, and they make sure to prevent this as much as they possibly can… To the extent that they are harming their kids in a brand new way. Too much education has empowered the parents of my generation, but is harming the kids of future generations as, by preventing them from getting hurt, we take from them the basic right of letting them learn from their own mistakes.
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- What is REALLY going on in your toddler’s mind?
- What is takes to have a happy daughter
This, in my opinion, is one of the biggest mistakes that the parents of my generation are making, and here’s why: From the many mistakes I have made in my childhood, I have learned to have no fear in trying new things, from getting hurt or rejected, and the importance of determination and attainment – I feel joy and pride when I achieve something after several failures and trials.
In my childhood, I have found myself in situations where I have learned what could harm me physically, and other situations where I have learned how to overcome disappointment or deception, because yes, no matter how protective parents can be, something or someone will eventually hurt their kids who need to get ready for what is about to come so they can overcome that situation without… Well, getting hurt.
See what’s happening here? At one point or anther in life, pain will come and there is no way to avoid it. So better to adapt to it sooner, so we can master it at a younger age, than later in life when the adaptation instinct is more rigid.
When our kids grow up, they will discover how the world really functions and they will look back at their pain-free childhood thinking that we did it all wrong. Parenting books of the future will focus more on how important it is to empower young kids by teaching them how to make mistakes and how life does go on after getting hurt, or failing, of falling apart, or losing, etc. Those future parents would have received a painful wake-up call to the dreadful truth of how the world functions, and they would want the same thing for their kids that we wanted for them – to get hurt the least amount possible.
The problem is that, future parents will incorporate this fact in the early phase of education, as they would have understood the importance that mistakes take in the growth process of a child.
Knowledge is useful when it increases awareness on some fundamental things such as the causes of early infant death (SIDS), or the importance of seat belts in cars, and the proper types of food to eat during pregnancy, or the awareness of child abuse, etc.
To be brief, knowledge is useful on many levels, and has contributed in saving lives, which is great. But problems start when too much knowledge suffocates our lives. That’s when parents need to step back and learn how to use another important tool to complete the education process: Judgment.
Parents today follow instructions to the letter, to the point of becoming robotic. Instead of just diving into new processes, rules, instructions that are provided by books, they need to take a step back and judge what types of information are useful for their kids and for their families. If not, they will drown in an ocean of contradictions and easily accessible knowledge. Because, yes that’s how knowledge can be described today: A lot of contradictory information to the point that it’s hard to tell what’s right and what’s not.
To me, knowledge without judgment is like dancing without music. You may have a series of movements that feel good, but it doesn’t follow a specific structure, shape or direction. A dancer who doesn’t know how to respect the melody of the music is just an amateur. The same goes for the parents of my generation. We assume that, because we have access to this newfound knowledge, we are smarter than previous generations and this makes us qualified to overprotect our kids. We know what could harm them and we know how to get them out of it.
But in fact, this is all just an illusion to makes us feel better, because at the end of the day, we don’t know what could harm our kids. No one does and no one could really prevent pain.
Truth be told, we are not better than previous generations because we are making mistakes. We’re just making different ones.
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