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When 11-year-old Aiden Woodrow of Calgary, Alberta puts on his boots, walks out his front door, and hollers a heartfelt goodbye to his mother, it’s difficult to see how he’s different from any other kid.
His neighbour, Cheryll Marsten, simply shakes her head as she recounts the story of him walking to school on his own. “It’s tragic,” she says. “Kids today just aren’t learning the fundamentals of being doted on like their predecessors did. Did you see how he lifted his own scooter off the front porch? I just can’t believe it. Those parents are failing him.”
As it turns out, Marsten is right. A new study out of the L’Académie canadienne de recherche in Montreal has illuminated the troubling fact that parents are not coddling their children enough and children are suffering as a result.
The day has come, it seems, that a generation of “free range” kids has suddenly started popping up all over the country. These children are being forced into thinking and doing for themselves. They are taking responsibility for their actions, they are problem-solving, prioritizing, and planning. And adults like Marsten are becoming increasingly concerned for the future of Canada.
This childhood independence is a problem that has become rampant in schools. Teachers are giving failing grades to children who aren’t getting their work done and not a single parent is coming in to complain. There is no one stepping up to say that the bad marks are the teacher’s fault and that the failing child is actually an A+ student who has been taught incorrectly.
Nobody is supporting these lost children and they are receiving grades as though teachers are marking their efforts alone, instead of taking into consideration how busy they were with ballet, gymnastics, and art class the night before, and so how could they possibly be expected to get their work done? Children are being brazenly forced to take responsibility for their own actions, a situation that has been, until now, unheard of.
And on playgrounds across the country, children as young as 3 are climbing – yes, climbing – entirely alone, expected to reach the tops of slides and monkey bars with little to no assistance from nearby adults. As unbelievable as that scenario may sound, it’s even less surprising than the fact that some children are actually being left to fend for themselves in sandboxes, building castles without a single adult standing by their side to cheer them on.
But it is perhaps in sports that the world is feeling the greatest impact of this generation of un-coddled children. Parents today merely watch their child play sports and completely neglect their duty and obligation to assess their child’s efforts during the entire car ride home, nitpicking the plays they made, telling them what opportunities they missed, and reminding them of all the things they could have done better. Which means kids are wasting countless hours riding peacefully in cars instead of being told how to play a sport by a parent who has no prior coaching experience. The future of sport in Canada (and, in fact, Canada’s hope for even a single athlete of Olympic caliber) hangs in the balance.
With further studies planned, it is clear that our nation is at a pivotal point in history. “We’re raising a nation of independent thinkers,” says Marsten, “And if we don’t bring back parental coddling soon, we’re going to end up with a country full of confident adults who can fend for themselves.” A fate she – and the rest of the country, no doubt – can’t even bear to imagine.
Read more about this groundbreaking research. And let us know what you think in the comments below.