We’re the worst generation of parents ever

We’ve become so self-obsessed, we don’t even see what it’s doing to our own children.

Meryl D'Souza June 6, 2016

A friend of mine got married when she was about 24. Our college clique knew about the impending wedding about a year prior. For some reason, we all joked about her getting a kid way too early. As fate would have it, she gave birth before she even celebrated her first anniversary – a little baby girl.

It started very well. She had her life together and now she had someone that was truly hers. But when that honeymoon phase ended, she started blaming the child. She called her baby an accident and talked about all the grief she went through because of her daughter. She’s even starting comic series about how difficult her life has become ever since her daughter.

Our group has seen the work in progress strips and heard the stories, they’re quite entertaining. But the fact that she blames her child for not being able to get the career she wanted or travel as much as she’d like, and even call her child an accident, is a little disturbing.

Maybe she’s suffering from postpartum depression and maybe she will get out of it. But as of right now, saying those things must surely be considered wrong. All of us in the group have a problem with it but don’t feel qualified enough to bring it up with her since none of us are parents.

The negligence

By now, you’ve probably heard the tragic story about a 3-year-old boy who climbed through a barrier at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden and tumbled into the gorilla enclosure below.

The 17-year-old western lowland gorilla named Harambe first looked like he was protecting the boy when he scooped the boy toward him with a cupped hand. But then looked like he was going to kill the boy after dragging him violently through the water in his moat. Zoo officials didn’t want to take a chance and so they killed Harambe to save the boy. 

The internet then did what it does best: sensationalize and shame. The video of the boy being dragged around by the gorilla went viral and it didn’t take long for legions of faceless twitter accounts to shame the mother – one tweet said, “The gorilla is doing a better job of looking after the kid than the mum was”. Two days since the incident a change.org petition collected 313,000 of the 1,000,000 signatures it was seeking.

By All means, hold the parents accountable, but show compassion.

That petition is a bit of an extreme, but you get the sentiment. Yes, a three or four-year-old kid is never going to listen to you. And as a parent, you’re allowed the occasional slip up. But how could you not watch your child at zoo? And not realize where was until he climbed through a barrier and fell some 15 feet to a shallow moat.

Closer to home

The epidemic is not restricted to that side of the world though. According to Gulf Today, “This year has witnessed the tragic death of five children falling from elevated buildings…. They were aged between two and five.” 

For anyone keeping score, that’s one kid a month for the year so far. Again the case involved parents leaving their kids alone at home or not being able to say no to their kid. 

The media circus

Perhaps it’s not just the parents to blame. At some level, even reckless media sensationalism plays its part. Take for instance the case of the boy named Xu.

Last week, the 16-year-old from Bazhong, China sneaked into the cargo hold of Emirates passenger flight EK303 from Shanghai and was found when workers started unloading bags in Dubai.

His story has sparked a debate in China over misinformation in the media - as Xu claims he read on social media that beggars in Dubai could make AED 270,000 a month.

Too protective

Earlier this year, an article argued over how previous generations were tough on their kids while ours is overprotective and shields them from every hint of failure. It stated that a lot of kids don’t have coping skills and aren’t independent enough to make decisions by themselves which cripples them as adults. 

Being a parent can be a nightmare. Having a child—even just expecting a child—means being at least a little bit afraid for the rest of your entire life. What makes our generation the absolute worst at this parenting business though – aside from being hooked to our phones and destroying the planet – is that we’re messing with our kids no matter what age spectrum they fall in. 

Being a parent may be tough, but imagine the kind of trauma a kid who’s being blamed for ruining her mother’s life or a kid who fell into a gorilla’s enclosure would be subject to? As always, we’re so concerned about ourselves that we can’t quite comprehend what we’re doing to others. Evidently, not even our own.