The Over-Scheduled Child Essay

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The  book   The  Over-Scheduled  Child:  Avoiding the   Hyper-Parenting  Trap,   formerly   published under  the title Hyper-Parenting: Are You  Hurting Your  Child  by Trying  Too  Hard? was written  by Alvin Rosenfeld and Nicole Wise. Rosenfeld, a psychiatrist in New York City and Greenwich, Connecticut, has worked extensively with children, adolescents,  and adults. Wise is a freelance journalist who  specializes in family life topics.  In this book, Rosenfeld and Wise first provide an overview  of  what  hyper-parenting is. They  then explore   both   cultural    and   individual    factors leading  to  such  parenting behavior. They  further describe several specific hyper-parenting practices, such  as  micromanaging, seeking  perfection, and pushing  for  winning.  Subsequently,  they  discuss the negative effects of hyper-parenting on both children  and parents.  Finally, they provide  several suggestions  for parents  to avoid  hyper-parenting. The   ultimate   goal   is  to   achieve  “what  really matters  in life.” Since its publication, the book has received a great deal of attention from journalists, educators, researchers,  practitioners, and parents.

The State  Of Overscheduling And Hyper-Parenting

According   to   Rosenfeld   and   Wise,  in  today’s society,   to   help   their   children   succeed,   many parents  seek out every bit of information they can find  on  parenting and  child  development, make aggressive  schedules  of  extracurricular  activities for  their  children,  and  try  to  do  everything  to satisfy their children’s needs. Such a practice is described by Rosenfeld and Wise as hyper-parenting,  a term  that  is now  widely used in the media  and  research.  Rosenfeld  and  Wise suggest that overscheduling and hyper-parenting are reflected everywhere—parenting magazines, newspapers, popular websites,  and  parenting programs. Furthermore, hyper-parenting is practiced  by parents  of all social classes, not  just by  those   from   the   middle   and   upper   classes. Finally,  such  parenting practice  is prevalent  not only in America but also in many other  countries.

The Antecedents Of Hyper-Parenting

From   a  broader  social  context,   Rosenfeld   and Wise believe that  hyper-parenting is a product of the media, which reflect culture  in America. First, the media portray the world  as a dangerous place (e.g., filled with violence, drugs, and sex). Therefore, parents  need  to  work  ceaselessly to  protect  their children.   In  the  mind   of  many  parents,   to  do anything  less would  imply negligence. Second, the media lead parents  into believing that “perfection is possible” and that “winning is everything.” As a result,  parents   are  making  every  effort  to  raise their children to be above average and become winners.  In American  culture,  being average is no longer   good   enough,    and   winning    is   more important than  being a team  player or respecting the feelings of others.  Third,  adding  to the media pressure, Rosenfeld and Wise also attribute technological  advances   as  a  factor   influencing hyper-parenting. Today’s  technology  (e.g.,  e-mail and  cell phones)  makes  parents  move  faster  and stay  involved  constantly. Furthermore, under  the impact of information overload,  corporate marketing,  and   rampant  consumerism, parents would  buy  any  product for  their  children  (e.g., high-tech safety products, electronic gadgets, name brand   toys,   clothes,   and   fashion   accessories). Finally, Rosenfeld and Wise point out that the economy  plays  a major  role  in the  prevalence  of hyper-parenting and that today’s parents  are “parenting in  a  state  of  anxiety  and  pessimism about  the future.”

Rosenfeld  and Wise suggest that,  influenced  by the broader social context,  hyper-parenting is, therefore, practiced  out  of the  best  intentions of parents, because parents want the best for their children.  However,  they also point  out  that  while trying  to be serious, rational, and scientific, many parents  ignore their instincts, give up their control, and are over-dependent on experts for help.

The Consequences Of Hyper-Parenting On Children And Parents

Regarding the effect of hyper-parenting on children, first Rosenfeld  and  Wise ask the central  question “Whose   life  is  it?”  For  example,   they  question what  benefit it would  bring a 12-year-old to move a 1,000 miles away from home to live with a coach in order to pursue her or his Olympic potential but to see her or his family only occasionally.  Indeed, when parents over-function by making their children’s   lives   their   responsibility,  they   may actually  deprive  their  children  of the opportunity to make decisions for themselves, to live their own lives, and to learn important life lessons from their experiences.  Furthermore, Rosenfeld  and Wise illustrate  the pressure and stress that  these parents put on their children when they seek micromanagement, perfectionism, and competition (e.g., by creating  custom kids).

Not  only  does  hyper-parenting take  a  toll  on children,   but  it  also  affects  parents.   Hoping   to make  their  children’s  lives better  through hyper-parenting, many  parents  put  their  personal  needs last and sacrifice their well-being. As a result, many parents,   both   financially   and   emotionally, are “overworked, overwhelmed, and over the top!”

Proposed Solutions

At the end, Rosenfeld and Wise propose several fundamental principles  to  help  parents  avoid  the hyper-parenting trap, such as limiting activities, leaving  empty  spaces  on  the  calendar,   taking   a break, setting family as a priority, and realizing that childhood is not a performance but a preparation.

Conclusion

Through  their   book,   Rosenfeld   and   Wise  ask parents to rethink their parenting priorities and the ultimate   goal  of  parenting. They  point  out  that true success in life sometimes  has little to do with the diploma that hangs on the wall. Instead, the ultimate  goal is for parents  to raise happy, healthy, and  responsible  children  and  for  everyone  in the family to live a happier  life. As Rosenfeld and Wise put   it,  “hyper-parenting  less  and   enjoying   life more” as a family is what this book is really about.

Bibliography:

  1. Chua, Amy. The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. New York: Penguin Press, 2011.
  2. Clarke, Jean I., Connie Dawson, and David Bredehoft. How  Much  Is Enough?  New York: Marlowe, 2004.
  3. Kindlon, Too  Much  of a Good  Thing. New York: Hyperion, 2001.
  4. Rosenfeld, Alvin and Nicole Wise. The Over-Scheduled Child: Avoiding the Hyper-Parenting Trap. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2000.

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