The soccer dad, dressed in cream-colored fleece and green pants, eerily blending in with the soccer nets and the field as he stands there like a fixture all Saturday and half of Sunday; The friend emailing with gaze fixed at the computer outputting an update to her friends: “We have hockey three times a week, dance class, violin, and karate…”, with hardly a mention of herself at all (except to tell you that she's upped her dosage of Prozac); The mom, who suddenly short-circuits when after dropping her son off at school he asks her to drive back with a different sandwich for his lunch and yells, "This is what I’ve become?! My kid’s employee?!...

Meet the Automamoms and the Daddroids.

The six-year-olds staring into their i -Phones with masked, not mischievous faces; the kid coming home from a full day of planned activities with two hours left before bedtime who asks, "What are we going to do when we get home?"; the fifteen-year-old cheating on his test because if he doesn’t get the highest score in the class he feels he’s worthless…

Meet the Botkids.

Welcome to Robotic Parenting. Had enough?

With our quest to be perfect parents, we have reduced ourselves to mere machines. We have renounced our own goals, dreams, and needs, for the sole function of raising the perfect child. With the quest to raise the perfect child, we have reduced our children to robots. We have programmed our children simply to perform, while neglecting the development of their inner selves: their imagination, compassion, self-awareness, motivation, creativity…

We are the Automamoms and the Daddroids. It’s nice to meet you. Don’t ask us about ourselves because we really can’t answer – we have lost our identities. Ask us our names and we will pause only long enough to tell you, “I’m Jane’s mom…” and, “I’m Justin’s dad…”

Meet our Robokids. Please note that they won’t care about meeting you unless you talk about them. Ask them their names and anything else that concerns them, and they will tell you. Then they will be silent. Perhaps waiting for instruction.

In our impossible quest to be perfect parents, we have lost our selves as people. And we are destroying all that makes us – and our children – human.

The good news is parenting is a behavior and behavior can be changed.

This is your wakeup call. Hello? Are you in there? Life is calling…

The Ten Steps for going from humanoid parent back to human being

  • 1. Put yourself first (at least sometimes).
  • 2. Keep the family together.
  • 3. Don't be your child's friend.
  • 4. Get disorganized.
  • 5. Bore your kids.
  • 6. Put your children to work.
  • 7. Miss the soccer game.
  • 8. Pare down.
  • 9. Tell your children they did not do a good job.
  • 10. Get back in the real world.

Quiz: Are you a Robotic Parent?

Instructions: choose (1) or (2). Add up the points at the quiz's end.

1. For you, a "driving range" is defined as:

(1) green grass, blue skies, and your yellow golf balls
(2) the miles between hockey rinks (soccer fields, etc.) your child plays on during traveling team games

2. How well does your child know spiderman (barbie, etc.)?

(1) pretty well, by reading or watching a dvd they were in
(2) very well, as spiderman (barbie, etc.) has come to see him personally, at his birthday party

3. You artfully arrange a double sleepover (away) for your two kids on a Saturday night so you can:

(1) seduce your husband
(2) finish up studying how to help your kids with their homework

4. After a game of tennis with your daughter, you:

(1) give her a bottle of water, to rehydrate
(2) give her your remote control, thank her, and leave the room

5. You are cleaning the dinner dishes yourself because:

(1) your kids are in full body casts from a freak accident and can't help
(2) your kids are busy texting their friends

Scoring: If you scored 5 points, you are still a human person. If you scored 7-9, you are in the danger zone. If you scored 9 or 10, you have crossed over and become a robotic parent. Time for the 10 steps...

Monday, June 10, 2013

Am I Giving In?

O.k. now my kids are at the age at which they should be doing sports every day after school.  We older parents (the ones like me who are old enough to conveniently mix up the 1968 for the 1986 date of birth) grew up with sports right at school, after school, every day.  Starting in middle school, you had JV or varsity sports.  Like Kick the Can, Murder in the Dark, and the neighbor's trampoline, these sports, extracurricular activities, energy eliminators, and physical outlets were free (short of the occasional and inevitable emergency room visits from the trampoline), simple, available, and simply available.  And they were much needed.

Today, we have to seek out sports for our kids, even in middle school.  To get an every day sport, you have to sign your kids up for multiple sports teams.  This runs against my instincts thus far, of one sport per season.  One team per season.  But does it really run against my will to not overschedule the kids?
Does it really run contrary to my desire to not objectify my kinds as performers, when it comes to handing them over to club sports?

 "My boys" is one way a local club sports woman spoke of the soccer players on the club team that she directed.  She already had boys of her own.  But when you take possession of a young boy's summer, at least Memorial and Labor Day holidays as tournament weekends, and spend hours driving them cross county in your car for away games every weekend (a surrogate to their parents who are driving their other siblings to other counties for their games), you may as well consider them foster kids.  The state isn't paying you; the parents are.  I am considering giving "my boys" - really my boy and my girl - to the lifestyle choice of Club Sports, with long practices, far away matches, and high price tags for hard-core parents who want their kids in that "desirable league".

But my kids need daily exercise.

What's the answer?

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