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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Working parents create independent kids

    I

    mmature, self-absorbed, irresponsible, lazy and worthless: These adjectives are used in reference to college students everywhere, yet there are always pairs of people who fail to call them these things: their parents. This tendency in itself casts light on what makes the coddled youth of our generation so selfish and indolent; when parents dote on their children as much as ours have doted on us, they do them more harm than good, which is reflected in sociological research as well as real-life examples.

    A recent study published in the June 2006 issue of “”American Behavioral Scientist”” evaluated the “”self-efficacy”” (one’s own perception of their ability to take action, perform tasks and accomplish goals) of 721 college-aged students. The study found that students whose mothers were employed throughout their childhood had a greater self-efficacy than those who were raised by stay-at-home mothers. Children with stay-at-home mothers have lower self-efficacy because when a domiciled parent caters to their every need, they aren’t required to do things for themselves as children with two employed parents are. What this results in for pampered children everywhere is ineptitude in simply managing their lives like adults (paying bills, keeping appointments, meeting deadlines and so forth). Children whose parents provided them with everything now suffer from a case of tetanus that keeps their jaws locked around the silver spoon; they lack genuine autonomy and independence.

    Many of my friends who were raised by stay-at-home mothers in affluent and loving households, for instance, are utterly incapable of waking themselves up for class on time, let alone scheduling their own appointments. Most of them are currently loping their way through college at the pace of a snail, unable to find a major that suits them. They live lives redolent of characters from Bret Easton Ellis novels in houses that are often unclean because they’re used to having their parents pick up after them. Every night they congregate around a bong, smoking hashish whilst watching VH1 as though it were broadcasting the first images of men walking on the moon. In reality, though, they’re watching the “”World Series of Pop Culture”” (“”Jeopardy”” for the insipid members of our generation). On the nights that they aren’t being regaled by reality TV, though, they’re cruising the clubs with the rest of the vampires.

    On the other side of the spectrum, there are those of my friends who had to struggle when they were kids. They were raised by either single parents or parents who had to work and fight in order to support their family. They, too, tend to engage in youthful exuberance, but never in excess. Furthermore, they’re completely autonomous; they are, in essence, fully liberated adults. They’re hard-working and don’t buckle under the pressure of deadlines, bills, appointments and other adult obligations like their overly-nurtured counterparts do. They persevere. They’ve grown up.

    What observations of my friends have shown me, and what sociological research confirms, is that many of us have been impaired by the tender loving care of our parents more than we’ve been empowered by it. Our parents gave us everything we wanted without asking for any form of recompense, and now we’re absolutely clueless as to how we go about procuring things for ourselves. We don’t know how or see the need to work hard because we never had to work hard while living under our parents’ roof. Yes, a portion of us – those who had nurturing parents – are indeed immature, self-absorbed, irresponsible, lazy and worthless (to an extent), but it’s not entirely our fault. Our parents need to take as much credit for our arrested development as we do.

    Andrew is a sophomore majoring in physics. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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