BOGOTÁ — A 2021 report from the United States (the Youth Risk Behavior Survey) found that 42% of the country’s high-school students persistently felt sad and 22% had thought about suicide. This means that nearly half of the nation’s young people live in despair and a fifth are considering suicide.
These chilling statistics are unheard of in human history. Although many suggested this was due to the COVID-19 pandemic that killed thousands, it is not. Unfortunately, depression has deeper causes. The pandemic only highlighted its complexity.
I’ve written previously about possible connections between severe depression, social media use and young people using it. This is only one aspect of the problem. Young people today are experiencing intense emotional crises and frequent relapses. This is not only due to the amount of screen time. A change in the family structure and authority patterns may be another important factor.
Firstly, today’s family has fewer members who communicate less with each other.
Young people get married later, have fewer kids and choose to work on their own projects and keep animals as pets rather than having children. Families tend to be more flexible and diverse. There are many countries where the number of children per mother is less or equal to one (Singapore among others), Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong.
On average, Colombian women have 1.9 children, as opposed to 7.6 in 1970. The average number of children for women between the ages of 15 and 49 is 2.4, which is less than half the figure in 1970. These changes are more prominent in cities, and between middle- and upper-income families.
The decline in communication between children and parents is another concern. It is hard to know why, but it could be due to fewer household members, the pervasive use screens, mothers going back to work, microwave ovens, which have eliminated family cooking and meals, and an increase in work time, even at home, thanks to new technology. Our society is obsessed with work and has little time for minors.
The 2019 Family Barometer study by the Sabana University in Chía, Colombia found that 81% of Colombian women believed intensive work was harming the time they spent with their children. Similar results were found in Spain where 63% of families said that communication between parents had declined in the past decade.
The siblings learn to be more open-minded, more understanding, and less selfish among other things. We get clothes, CDs, toys and, admittedly, we have rivalries and tensions that we will continue to deal with throughout our lives.
Many children today are without their life teachers. This situation is made worse by the absence or inability of their fathers. Fathers were often associated with helping children develop a sense for goals and the ability to persevere and overcome obstacles.
Today, 85 percent of single-parent families are managed by their moms. The West has quietly experienced quiet changes, even if they have been profound in recent decades.
Overprotective and permissive families are on the rise
These include the weakening and loss of communication between the home and extended families. These two factors can lead to a great deal of isolation that precedes emotional crises.
Although the consequences are not yet clear, we know that there will be new generations with brittle emotions. This could result from having been more alone or receiving less emotional support from their parents, close family members, or even neighbours.
Secondly, why is there an increase in overprotective and permissive families among the middle-upper classes?
UN’s 2021/22 Human Development Report on (Uncertain Times, Unsettled LifesFear was the key to understanding this sudden rise in helicopter parents. The title of the report is very suggestive.
The study analyzed 13,000,000 news reports over the past 115 years. It found that negative reports are far more common than those made public in the First or Second World Wars. The majority of people live in anxiety.
They believe that crime is rampant and modern life has only brought about threats, wars, murder and more. They draw this conclusion from the vast amount of news they see, which is partly why many parents are so protective.
Do you want to give your child a chip?
Johan Norberg, a prominent researcher, and Steven Pinker believe we have overestimated the risks we face today. They say this despite living in a relatively peaceful and prosperous time in our history.
They attribute the misperception to mainstream and social media. However, perceptions and misperceptions are subjective realities. Most adults feel unsafe in today’s world.
Overprotective parenting can have severe emotional consequences. Anxious parents might have an unconfessed need to see their anxiety replicated by their children.
Their children may be more comfortable sleeping if they are mimicking their concerns and so proving them right. Overprotection has the paradox that children grow up unprotected and less autonomous.
Parents would often put a chip in their children to track their movements at all times. This task can be accomplished by tweaking cell phones. Some playgrounds in wealthy precincts have security cameras that allow them to see all their movements in real-time.
Expect more emotional crises within society without any changes in educational norms at school or at home.
These are temporary solutions that will have unquestionable, long-term consequences for a child’s emotional growth and development.
Separately, a world that overvalues personal achievements and equates happiness with an accumulation of material goods has fomented a new form of authority — the equally harmful, permissive family.
These parents are driven to ensure their children are happy, healthy, and have everything they desire. Tim Elmore, a writer who is also a motivator, observes that such parents are very demanding of their children and quick to praise them.
These same children may grow up to be naive, selfish, and unable to empathize. Many children learn early the hateful art and technique of manipulation.
Overprotective or indulgent parenting will result in sensitive children and adults.
You can expect more emotional crises in society if there is no change to educational norms at school and home. Cultural change is slow.
*De Zubiría is an educator and headmaster of the Alberto Merani school in Bogotá.
From Your Site Articles
Leave a Reply