Monday, September 16, 2013

Perpetual Childhood: Are parents too involved in the lives of their grown children?

When I was in high school, there was a very popular surfing movie called, "Endless Summer." It was about surfers who traveled the world in perpetual pursuit of the perfect wave. But what our children can now look forward to, apparently, is "Endless Childhood."

I heard somewhere recently (NPR, I think) that college professors are getting more and more calls from the parents of their students who are dissatisfied by the grades they [their children] are receiving or the nature of instruction and so forth. And the first thought I have, after hearing of this, is to ponder just how perpetually adolescent our culture has become that a person needs the assistance of his parents into adulthood.

By the time a person has graduated from college, he should be able to assist his parents, his parents should not be having to assist him. At bottom, he should not have to have his parents still managing his affairs.

But  here is John Hayword, waxing anxious on a recent Wall Street Journal article on parental involvement in the employment life of their grown children, including the interview and recruitment process and the process of advancement:
I don’t want to come off like an old fuddy-duddy here, but it seems to me that some of the traits employers value – independence, resourcefulness, initiative – are undermined by bringing parents into the office, not to mention involving them in job interviews. I’m a big proponent of the importance of family, and its value for putting young people on the road to success, but at some point you’ve got to leave the nest.  
It’s also not a good idea to encourage the new social trend of extended adolescence. The current American culture is quite impatient with childhood - they’re working on sex-ed classes for five-year-olds in Chicago – but it wants to drag adolescence out as long as possible. The life of the college student will now extend into the early years of career life, where company functions increasingly resemble PTA meetings. Couple this with the growing trend of young people living with their parents for an uncomfortably long time, and it’s getting hard to see where “adulthood” really begins.
It will be interesting to see, in modern culture, just how long we can extend childhood.

1 comment:

mccsmagistra said...

Maybe part of the reason for perpetual adolescence is because children are robbed of their childhood by being taught sex ed when they're five.