Redbrick Comment: Leave us kids alone

‘So where are you going?  Who are you going with?  When will you be home?’  These are familiar questions I’m certain most of us have heard.  The plight of concerned parents worried about us venturing into the big bad world alone is becoming more and more common.  I read an article the other day about parents who followed their travelling children around the world on their Gap Years.  Yes, you did read that right.  I also recently witnessed a girl sneezing and her mother calming her with tissues, mints and a carton of orange juice.  With ridiculous stories like these becoming ever present, it raises the question of how protective parents are becoming and if we will ever escape.

In the modern, cotton wool, politically correct world where kids can’t play in the mud in case they get dirty and teachers can’t tell off naughty children in case they upset them, it seems that it would be a crime for any of us to grow up and actually make a mistake.  I understand that we are our parent’s children.  They love and care for us unconditionally; it is their job to moan at us for spending too much of our loan on nights out and for sleeping all day when we ‘should be doing something productive’ but, they need to remember that we are all at least 18 now.  In the eyes of the law, we are adults; we can vote, get married and go to jail (hopefully not the latter!).  I believe it is time for them to back off a little and let us grow up and take control of our lives.  I want to make a mistake and learn from it, I want to go through a hard time to understand it; I don’t want mum to bail me out with the answer or dad to warn me of the consequences.

In reports of recent years, the ‘helicopter parent’ has become a new emergence, famous for hovering overhead and swooping down to rescue their young when needed. This new breed of parent is similar to the recently recognized ‘Lawnmower parent’, so-called for their ability to smooth out their children’s lives and mow down all obstacles. From UCAS forms to graduate job fairs, it is widely becoming known that parents are interfering too much.  Some universities have resorted to sending out ‘Parent Packs’ to advise of how to deal with a child leaving home and have recruited family liaison officers to help deal with any issues.  Some large companies have even had to deal with parents negotiating their graduate sons and daughters’ salaries!

While we laugh at the idea of a swarm of parents acting like predators to protect their offspring, it is actually a serious issue.  More and more parents are now joining up to Facebook, especially when their sons and daughters go to University, to keep tabs on what they are doing.  Luckily, I haven’t had any notifications telling me that my dad ‘liked’ the fact that I went to the library or that my mum commented on a picture of me in Gatecrasher.  But even without the net we are still slaves to what has been described as ‘the world’s longest umbilical cord’: the mobile phone.  Where the generation before us would have had to wait in line for a pay phone to call home once a week, we are contactable at the press of a few buttons, nearly all day every day!  We all love our parents dearly and appreciate all that they do for us but Ma, Pa, let us grow up and venture into the world ourselves.  We would love you even more if you were there to help us when needed and not control our lives totally.

Printed in Redbrick: 12th February 2010

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