Categories
Social Commentary

Are You Too Busy For a Thumbs Up?

This was originally written for my regular Generation Next Column. It has a handful of comments there that you might like to read.

My 5-year-old son attends swimming lessons each and every Sunday. It’s a busy pool with multiple classes going on at once.

During lessons parents sit around the pool and watch their offspring splash around, offering words of encouragement, the occasional ‘thumbs up’ and many smiles of pride.

You can picture it can’t you? It was pretty much the same as when we learnt to swim… way back when.

However if you’ve actually taken a child to swimming lessons recently you’d know that the picture I’ve painted is actually a fake.

In my experience, parents aren’t offering words of encouragement, thumbs up or even smiles. They’re staring at a screen reading banal Facebook updates, answering ‘important’ emails that simply couldn’t wait until Monday or just surfing mindlessly.

I wonder why?

Have we really convinced ourselves that we are that busy that we can’t devote 30mins of our attention to our kids? Heck even 15mins would be good!

How many of these parents have to lie when their kids ask them, “Did you see me?”

How many of these kids finish a lap to look for a thumbs up, only to find their parents’ thumbs otherwise engaged?

I know this might seem like a trivial matter, but I wonder if it’s just the tip of a much larger iceberg?

I’d be interested to hear what you think… am I worrying about nothing?

Ipad Parents

Categories
Social Commentary Wellbeing Youth

Girls Get A’s, Then Get Surgery

This was originally published for my regular Generation Next column. 

I have a saying that my teaching colleagues will be able to appreciate.

Interesting kids have very interesting parents.

I spent the past two years resisting invitations from schools to give parent talks.

My reasoning was that whilst after 15+ years teaching, I can speak with some authority with regards to working with school students, I have only been a parent for the past five years, and I reckon parenting is the hardest job in the world!

However, this year I broke my duck and have enjoyed chatting with parents on a variety of subjects… but as yet I haven’t broached this one.

This weekend I read an article in which kids are rewarded for impressive academic performances with plastic surgery!

Apparently, according to a cosmetic nurse quoted in the article, ”Lips and cheek augmentation are very, very common with the girls prior to the formal and graduation.”

I honestly don’t know where to start with this. I mean what do you say to parents who think like this?

Here are three of my initial thoughts:

1. If your daughter has issues with her self esteem so serious that the only way to address them is with surgery, then what kind of parent makes her jump through academic hoops in order to get it?

2. If your daughter is only motivated to do well academically by the prospect of having needles inserted into her face, what messages have you been sending her about learning, identity and self worth?

3. Or perhaps I am so out of touch with what’s going on, that I really need to get with the program before my daughter graduates in which case I reckon I’ve got about 12 years to work this parenting thing out.

Parenting is hard. But some parents – and Society as a whole – make it harder than it needs to be.