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Hyper Parents & Coddled Kids
Saturday October 13 at 7 pm on CBC-TV
Are today's well-meaning parents giving their children a leg up in life, or creating problems that will last their child's lifetime? The new CBC documentary Hyper Parents & Coddled Kids explores the cultural pressures on parents to be hyper-parents and the impact it has on their children.
The current trend of over-parenting began in the early 1980's when baby boomers - who ended up having fewer children, later in life - started having kids, and it has continued down the line.
Ron Alsop, author of The Trophy Kids
At first, Baby on Board signs in car windows proudly announced "precious cargo" inside. Today, however, it is not enough to wait until the baby is born. While pregnant, parents start their single-minded search for ways to create an über child - and there is no shortage of products to help them, including 'prenatal education systems' that claim to give Junior an intellectual, social, creative and emotional advantage. Once the baby is born, the race to keep him or her ahead of the pack intensifies - with baby videos, baby ballet, gymnastics before they can walk, and parents' near-fanatic devotion to finding the right pre-school.
Parents are willing to overextend their budgets so they can maintain a program that will lead to their child's success. And they will do everything in their power to protect their investment - coming to the rescue whenever their child encounters adversity.
Sanaz Esfahani tried unsuccessfully for two years to get her five-year-old daughter Leili into a private school.
Nowhere is this more obvious than in today's classrooms. Ask any teacher and they will tell you that the toughest aspect of their job is dealing with overbearing parents who fiercely intervene at the first sign of trouble. Failure is not an option, and parents will do everything they can to make sure their child graduates top of the class so they attend a good university, which in theory leads to a good job which leads to a good life.
And you can say goodbye to saying goodbye. Reluctant to let go, moms and dads continue to hover even when their kids head to university. Many parents take it upon themselves to fill out application forms and write the admissions essay on their child's behalf. Some even follow their pampered progeny right into the workplace - attending job interviews and even trying to negotiate salary and contracts.
Hyper-parents have the best of intentions. They believe that the world is more dangerous and competitive than the carefree times of their own youth. Obsessing about our kids' safety and success has become the norm, and the pressure to hyper-parent is almost impossible to resist.
After graduating from university, Adrienne Cousins landed a good job with a good salary, but she couldn't quite fit into the corporate culture. She borrowed money to start her own business.
But there are indications that all of the attention parents bestow on their children may not have the outcome they had hoped for. In fact, it appears to be having the opposite effect. As the first batch of hyper-parented kids (Generation Y) emerges into adulthood, they do not seem to be quite ready for the real world. University psychologists report today's students experience higher levels of anxiety than any generation before them. And employers are pulling their hair out as Gen Y employees show up at work with an unprecedented sense of entitlement - 'Paying your dues' is not part of their vernacular. They require a lot of supervision and they challenge everything from dress code to office hierarchy.
Hyper Parents & Coddled Kids presents a snapshot of a great social experiment in parenting whose full results will not be known for years. Will the pendulum swing back? - resulting in the next generation of parents slowing down and letting children be children? Or will they up the ante and escalate hyper-parenting to a point not yet imagined?
Hyper Parents & Coddled Kids is co-directed by Sharon Bartlett and Maria LeRose for by Dreamfilm Productions in association with CBC-TV.