This recent article in the New York Times by Alfie Kohn caught my eye. First let me say that I really don’t agree with this well-known progressive educator. His thesis (“unconditional parenting”) is that a parent should be equally approving of his/her child regardless of the child’s behavior. My opinion? Parents cannot act this way—unless they have a heart of stone and are utterly indifferent as to how the child grows up and who the child becomes. Most parents who *think* they raise their kids unconditionally simply try to repress their hopes and desires and hope their kids don’t notice how the parent really feels. But kids always notice.
That said, I do agree with an important observation Kohn makes early on. He says that explicitly behavioral/conditional parenting strategies are gaining in popularity. We have long made this prediction about Generation X (born 1961-1981) parenting—and have pointed out the emergence of it in other contexts. Gen-Xers care less about how perfect their kids really are on the inside (no Bill Bennett’s “Book of Virtues” for them), but they care a lot more about whether their kids behave in ways and acquire habits that maximize their long-term odds of success.
The Homeland Generation is already gestating.
Note: The Homeland Generation (Born 2005-?), now entering pre-school, will include the babies born between now and the mid-2020s. Their always-on-guard nurturing style will be substantially set by Gen-x parents, legislators, and media producers, who are already gaining a reputation for extreme sheltering.