The Saeculum Decoded
A Blog by Neil Howe
Nov 232009
 

The cover of Time Magazine this week features on article on overparenting:

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1940395-1,00.html

(thanks to JenX67 for the link)

The claim is that a backlash is forming, but I wonder whether that will really be the case. The author of the Time article doesn’t seem to discriminate between over-achieving parenting (typical of Boomer (born 1943-1960)) and over-protective parenting (typical of  Generation X (born 1961-1981)). Things like “slow parenting” are a good example of where Gen X is rejecting the Boomer over-achiever style:

This is a Slow Family Living class, taught by perinatal psychologist Carrie Contey and Bernadette Noll. “Our whole culture,” says Contey, 38, “is geared around ‘Is your kid making the benchmarks?’ There’s this fear of ‘Is my kid’s head the right size?’ People think there’s some mythical Good Mother out there that they aren’t living up to and that it’s hurting their child. I just want to pull the plug on that.”

There is definitely a Gen X driven backlash against the whole perfectionist Boomer “hyper-parenting” style. But the whole move back to simple, slow, home-based child rearing often leads to parenting styles that are even more hands-on and protective than they were before. Workshops on how to help kids by “letting go” and the mathematical reassessment of which risks are worth guarding against has a comical aspect. You will know when the next generation of young children are arriving (their parents will be late-wave Millennial (born 1982-200?)) when no one is any longer interested in this subject. We’ve built a whole new world that is basically safe, so now let’s just ignore them and not worry any longer. When we reach that point, young Prophets (the next incarnation of the Boomers) will be among us.

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  • Hertha

    The GenX "backlash" sounds like a perfect way to create a generation of Artists. The style is no less protective, but designed more to create thinkers who are sensitive and adaptive to changing social situations. Good thing, as they'll start life in the beginning of a Crisis.

  • Samuel Clemmons

    Neil, Fantastic concept and book (4th Turning). It would be great to hear the recent interview on Coast To Coast AM. If possible, please post mp3 file or link.

    Thanks.

  • I think I found it: http://www.coasttocoastam.com/guest/howe-neil/711… This page seems to have audio links to all of my shows on Coast to Coast.  Someone might want to try them to see if they work.  –NEIL

  • Nice find Neil! I had listened to a “bootleg” copy of one of those talks on YouTube, but this is MUCH better. Thanks for pointing it out. It does require a subscription ($7 per month), but with many hours of talks from you on it, it would be worth it for a month!

  • Curious observer

    I love this line from the article: "…when schools debate whether to drop recess to free up more test-prep time, parents need to let a school know if they think that's a trade-off worth making."

    Good luck with that in a No Child Left Behind world. Whether parents like it or not, the Homeland generation is going to be the most docile and imbecilic ever, rendered incapable of independent thought by the twin evils of standardized testing and mind-altering drugs (Ritalin, Prozac, etc.) prescribed the moment a child exhibits, well, child-like behavior.

  • Curious observer

    One more thought… Until Xer and Millie parents stand up and raise hell against this….

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/arti

    …the Homelanders are doomed. And I don't think Xers and Millies get it yet.

  • hickchick

    I guess you guys that have missed the growing homeschool movement….

  • @hickchick – But homeschooling is a great example of Gen X overparenting style: protect the child from most (or all) outside influences. It shows a distrust of institutions coupled with a desire to shelter the child. In general, Boomers homeschool because they wanted to instill high-minded ideals, while Gen X'ers homeschool because they want to protect.

  • Well said!

    I think that we may be nearing a tipping point….

    London teachers calling to replace the word "fail" with "deferred success"

    http://failblog.org/2009/11/25/deferred-success-f

  • Hertha

    The GenX "backlash" sounds like a perfect way to create a generation of Artists. The style is no less protective, but designed more to create thinkers who are sensitive and adaptive to changing social situations. Good thing, as they'll start life in the beginning of a Crisis.

  • dsohigian

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  • Mo Merrier

    My Fourth Turning Experience TODAY 3-19-10

    My Millennial son has twice a week visits to occupational therapy. He travels from his dorm, 10 miles away, to the PT office, almost next door to our house. I drive. I, one straddling the line between Boomers and 13ers – born 1960, and feeling way more like a 13er but sensitive to boomers, just found out I got a new job in a new career that starts next Monday at 8am. I call my Silent mother who “demands” we re-schedule his morning appointments next week if she is to drive him there because – being other centered – she must oversee her student teachers on their time or that of the principals, even though she’s the supervisor in this relationship.

    Then as I’m making brunch I hear the lead on a TV news story: “… a father calls his young children super heroes” after they deliver a baby…

    Even though I just finished The Fourth Turning this week, I get the feeling I will have a lot of days like this.

    • Mo Merrier

      I didn't even have to wait one day… on the same day, my other Millennial son posts this on his facebook status:

      china still uses the death penalty for rapists and murderers… death by gun shot, no dickin' around. i think that our fifty year death row wait with cotton swab before injection is rediculous and weak.