The Age of Anxiety
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The Age of Anxiety

A little thought experiment:
 
You're not in charge. The people who are in charge are nice enough, I mean they seem to like you. But they don't seem to trust you all that much. They're always second-guessing you, telling you how you could be better, do things better. You have very little free time or down time because they're always finding things for you to do. They don't ask you what you think but assume that you're on board with plans. You don't have much room to roam or make decisions, and usually you're happy to go along. But...but.
 
Does this scenario make you anxious?
 
I've been reading and hearing so much lately about the state of children today, and that state seems to be: anxious. 
 
On the other hand, parenting in the past couple of decades has changed dramatically, from relatively free-range, kids-should-be-seen-and-not heard style to overbearing helicoptering.
 
Do you suppose there's a connection?
 
One thing we didn't have, those of us raised in the 60s and 70s, was a generation's worth of overstressed, overscheduled, overachieving kids who arrive at the cusp of adulthood unable to bear disagreement and hurt feelings. Or manage straightforward adult tasks and decision-making. Maybe letting kids roam, take risks, and screw up for their own account is a good thing. 
 
There's a reasonable-sounding theory in the medical community that posits that the dramatic increase in allergies in children may be the result of too much cleanliness-- all our years of Purell and sanitizing may have resulted in immune systems that are never tested, and never get a chance to mature.
 
Sound familiar?
 
When kids are overscheduled, overhandled, and overruled, I think the same thing happens to them on an emotional level.  
 
I'm hoping that the pendulum will swing back. That parents will stop making a career out of being in charge and let go some of the control and decisions, stop wondering and second-guessing themselves at every turn and get comfortable with mistakes. Theirs and their kids. That's the only way to nurture a growth mind-set, one that's willing to take  measured risks, and recover from mistakes.
 
Maybe that's the way to address the anxiety epidemic.

 

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