Getting real about intensive parenting

Recently, a trend in parenting called intensive parenting has been getting a lot of attention. A style known for a high amount of time spent hands on with children and lots of activities, some have seen it as the antithesis of the hands off approach of earlier generations. Parents who practice this style tend to helicopter around and over their children and stay active in just about every activity, ensuring that their children are always getting the most and best opportunities to learn, grow, and succeed. But is it really all that different?
Today’s parents worry about the opportunities their children will have as adults in an extremely competitive world. With automation reducing manual labor and potentially even office and administrative work, the children of today will enter a more competitive job market than ever before. Parents want to ensure their children get the experience and knowledge to win in such a landscape. Going to college is just table stakes, so a strong school, major, and distinctive athletic and academic experiences that stand out are needed.
Parents today have a lot to worry about, jobs are going away, recessions seem.more frequent, climate change is quickly shaping the world’s future, and the income gap is widening. Children who can succeed and be above that gap are much more likely to succeed than those below. These factors have created a generation of worriers, who as parents, want to make sure that their children don’t have to have the same worries. But with all of these factors, it may be one of the first times where parents worry their children may not be better off than them.
Now, a lot of this may be overblown. Every parent worries about the success of their children and wants them to do better than they could. For as bad as some things about the future seem, it is still unquestionably the best time to be alive with lowest ever levels of hunger, disease, poverty, and lack of education. Generally, things are continuing to get even better.
But for parents, the concerns are easy to over-index on and forget about the positives. Because of this, parents in this generation are waiting longer to have kids and having fewer, putting their hopes of success into a larger focus and making the results of failureeven higher stakes. Parents are willing to sacrifice even more of their resources; time and money, to raise their children.
It’s not uncommon to see parents playing on playground equipment or on the athletic fields with their kids these days. Looking at it negatively, one could say these parents continue to act like children because they never learned to be functioning adults, a sentiment easy to find online. However, it’s just as easy to see that these parents may actually be sacrificing the most valuable resource they have, time, to their children. Sure, some parents yelling at coaches at soccer games may not exactly be benefiting their children. Others though might be giving every thing they have to make sure their kids have every small advantage possible.
Many parents of today grew up with a ton of freedom and parents that let them roam free. The world changed substantially though with terrorism, Amber alerts, 24/7 news coverage, and a general sense of fear and uncertainty about the future. No longer can kids just wander around the neighborhood like I did when I was a kid, hanging out without being in constant contact with parents, often jumping between different locations and activities. In reaction, parents exert finer control over their kids and remain in touch all the time. While parents that get kicked out of their children’s classes or sports activities because they are always there may go to the extreme, there is a reason for that fear.
Like just about everything around parenting techniques, there are extremes when it comes to parenting in 2019. Intensive parents can certainly go to the extreme, overloading their children and destroying their independence, but there can be some benefits to this approach as well. Parents who practice aspects of intensive parenting do at least remain present, give their children the benefit of experiences, and may give them opportunities to get ahead in life. This just needs to be balanced with restraint so that children can grow, develop, make mistakes, and learn.

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