For those who have not heard of generation snowflake, it refers to young people, typically college students, who avoid emotionally charged topics or opinions that differ their own. It refers to “safe spaces” in the university setting, and “trigger warnings” on great literary classics because those classics may make these students feel unsafe or be reminded on some past trauma. Basically it refers to a generation of people who have been so coddled that they feel that they should automatically be shielded from anything that may offend, upset, or emotionally harm them. What’s worse is that many of our institutions of higher learning are actually catering to this.
I have heard of situations where a college student gets a bad grade, and parents are actually calling the school to talk to the professor about getting the grade changed. This is the same situation that K-12 educators often encounter, and it is ridiculous when we do. However, I think it is more ridiculous to have it happening in a college setting. College is supposed to be a person’s first chance to experience the real world without their parents. If their parents continue to shield them from their choices in that setting, when are they supposed to learn to function and think for themselves? Why are we, as a society, allowing this to go on?
I always thought that the point of raising children was to make sure that they are able to be functioning members of society who can make a difference in the world. More and more we are seeing children who don’t know how to make choices for themselves, can’t function if they make a mistake, and have so much learned helplessness that they refuse to try even the simplest of tasks. We often have to spend a great deal of time in school un-teaching some of these things. We try to talk to parents about allowing children to do things for themselves, but many times we are met with resistance, or a half assed agreement that is never acted upon.
I understand that sometimes it is easier and faster to do things for your children. If I am running late, it is much quicker for me to dress my son and put his shoes on for him. But in the long run it WILL make my life HARDER. If I am doing it for him, I am sending the message that I’m really good at doing those things quickly and he is not. He will quickly learn that if he takes a long time it’s okay, because mama will do it for him. This will lead to years of me completing my routine to get myself ready, as well as his.
Putting the work in now WILL make a difference for you and your child later. If you are constantly shielding your children from the realities of the world, they will never be able to process those realities in a safe place and with your guidance. This will just lead to another generation of delicate snowflakes who are completely dependent on their parents and don’t know how to independently face the challenges of the real world. They will then be thrust into reality with no real coping skills. This will lead to failure, job loss, and higher instances of mental illness.
We owe it to our children to give them a chance. I always tell my students, as well as my son, that mistakes are our friends because they help us learn. Children need to try things and they NEED to make mistakes. It is the only way that they will learn the right way to do things independently. Experience is the key to education, and it is up to us to allow them to have all types experiences in a safe and controlled environment. Some of these experiences will be good, and some will be bad. The bad ones will show our kids what they don’t want to do, and they will learn from it.
If they are able to experience, learn, and make mistakes while they are young, then they will always carry it with them. This will help to prevent so many problems down the road. The mistakes that they make as young children are generally on a much smaller scale than they will be as adults, and so are the consequences.
Example. There is a child in school that your child does not get along with. You have two choices:
Option 1-You could go into the school and tell the teacher that your child cannot sit by or interact with this child
Option 2- You could tell your child that he/she has to find a way to work with this other child. You could discuss ways to do that and make it into a learning experience.
Let’s say you go with option 2. You feel really good about it until the phone rings. It’s the school. Your child tried to do what you said but ended up getting angry and hitting the other child. Now your child has to suffer the consequences of his/her choice. These consequences may include a loss of privilege, detention, or even an RPC. But the child will learn that what they did is not okay and will hopefully internalize that and make better choices in the future.
But let’s go back and say you went with option 1. All worked out and your child did not hit the other child. It’s a win, right?
Fast forward 20 years. Your son/daughter is grown and encounters someone that they don’t get along with in the workplace. You aren’t there to call the boss and ask that they be separated, so for the first time in his/her life, he/she now has to work with someone that they don’t get along with. Only, it was never required that they learn that skill set, so they end up in a fight with this person. The consequences are a lot more severe as an adult. It could result in job loss, or even jail time.
Although this situation is extreme, it is becoming very realistic in the times that we live in. Children are being so bubble wrapped and shielded from the “evils of the world” that they can’t function once they are grown and forced into situations where they are expected to cope. I am all for keeping children innocent for as long as possible, but we need to strike a balance.
Let children be children, but let them learn. Let them grow. Let them experience all the world has to offer. Most importantly, let them make mistakes and know that it is okay. They aren’t perfect, and neither are we.