Posts Tagged 'hyper-parenting'

The Busy Life of Ernestine Buckmeister (Book Review)

By: Linda Ravin Lodding
Illustrated by: Suzanne Beaky
Published October 2011 by Flashlight Press

We’ve reached an interesting turning point in children’s literature when the message of a kid’s book is aimed at both parents and children.

The Busy Life of Ernestine Buckmeister by Linda Lodding captures the essence of the over-scheduled child in a fun and friendly way. With so many activities in her schedule, Ernestine has no time to do what she really wants to do – play. Until one day, Ernestine takes control and changes her schedule.

Lodding gently critiques the philosophy that so many of us adhere to. Ernestine’s parents tell her to ‘make every moment count’ and ‘live life to the fullest’. But trying to pack in too many activities can be disastrous. While Ernestine suffers from activity overload, her parents believe that they are providing the best for their daughter.

While the book’s message can be sobering, The Busy Life of Ernestine Buckmeister is far from serious. This light-hearted story will entertain any elementary school-aged child as they read about Ernestine knitting with Mrs. Pearl Stitchem and practicing yoga with Guru Prakash Pretzel. The illustrations by Suzanne Beaky are bright and engaging.

The Busy Life of Ernestine Buckmeister is a wonderful reminder that play is just as important as – if not more important than – organized activities. Dr. Stuart Brown, author of Play and founder of the National Institute for Play, reminds us that play allows children to get in touch with their innate talents. If children are confined to scripted activities all the time, they will never get a chance to explore other interests.

Released just in time for Christmas, this book will make an excellent gift for the child [ahem, parent] who needs a kind reminder to relax and take time to play.

Available October 1, 2011, where children’s books are sold. Visit Amazon or Barnes and Noble to order online.


School Schmool

Photo Credit: Cienpies Design from

I’m all for homeschooling, just let me know which ‘home’ I should drop my children off at.

Today was the Bear’s first day of public school. Although, according to Tom Hodgkinson of The Idle Parent, homeschooling would be preferable. There are many homeschooling parents out there who are advocates of bypassing the system in order to better engage in child-directed learning or perhaps avoid some of the negative outcomes that the ‘system’ can produce.

Alas, I’m more of a work-for-change-within-the-system kinda gal. I’m also more than happy to have some child/parent separation. Therefore, enrolling the Bear in our local community public school was a no-brainer. And, no, there were no tears shed this morning as we dropped her off.

I think it is interesting how slow parenting has become inextricably linked with shunning the so-called shackles of the school structure. I understand the desire to have more control over your day so that you can offer children downtime, a chance for free play and child-directed learning opportunities. However, I wonder if homeschooling can also be a recipe for developing helicopter parents – parents are so intent on overseeing their children’s education that they have a hard time letting the kids develop independence. I do think that slow parenting can be accomplished by both the homeschoolers and public education supporters. At the same time, either type of parent can be prone to hyper parenting.

Here is how I hope public schooling will support my children. And I do say ‘support’ as there are many influences to an individual’s education.

1. I hope the education system supports my children in becoming literate. Sounds obvious, but all learning hereafter stems from my children being accomplished readers and writers.

2. I hope the education system inspires them to be self-learners. Afterall, if you’re motivated and resourceful you can really learn anything throughout life.

3. I hope the education system inspires them to be creative. Because I’m a big believer that ingenuity is the key ingredient in any definition of success.

4. And finally, but most importantly, I hope that the education system supports my children in becoming critical thinkers. Because, I want my kids to be critics of the systems they will inevitably be part of.

Beyond these four hopes, I think the rest is just icing on the cake.

I also want to add that many of the public school critics I have read come from Britain and America (I recently watched Waiting for Superman which documented the American system). The Canadian school system, while not without issues and critics, is fortunately one of the best ‘systems’ in the world to resign oneself to!

What Is It About 20-Somethings?

I’ve always been suspect of the theories that are quick to label a certain generation with specific behaviours, attitudes and morals. Over the last few years, there has been an enormous amount of attention paid to the Millennials (or Gen Y’s). These are our current teens and 20-somethings. The critics say they are lazy, unfocused and quick to challenge their elders or the ‘system.’ Any discussion about the Millennials inevitably begins with the assumption that it is acceptable to paint an entire group with the same brush.

An extension, of course, to the discussion about the Millennials is that they are the byproduct of irresponsible parenting. Critics point their fingers at the helicopter parents or hyper-parenting styles of Mom and Dad. These are the parents who are quick to micro-manage everything in their children’s lives. They plan out their child’s educational path before their third birthday, and enroll their children in a multitude of lessons or activities to ensure that they don’t miss out on acquiring one of those ‘must-needed’ skills of the future.

It was with a bit of relief, then, when I read Robin Marantz Henig’s article in the New York Times Magazine, “What is it about 20-Somethings?” The author points to the academic interest in the theory of ‘emerging adulthood’. This is a term coined by Psychology Professor, Jeffrey Jensen Arnett. Emerging adulthood is about re-writing the timeline for when one becomes ‘adult’. According to Arnett, the 20’s are such a time. “Just as adolescence has its particular psychological profile, Arnett says, so does emerging adulthood: identity exploration, instability, self-focus, feeling in-between and a rather poetic characteristic he calls ‘a sense of possibilities.’”

So is it a generational issue that we are faced with – the Millenials who have their own characteristics like the Gen Xer’s and Baby Boomers before them? Are they the children who are the products of hyper-parenting? Or, is it a newfound recognition of a period of time when individuals are not yet really ‘grown-up’ although society expects them to be? The idea of ‘emerging adulthood’ is where my vote would be.

I wonder if we (as slow parents) can expedite the stage of ‘emerging adulthood’. By leaving our children, especially our teens, to have time and space for “identity exploration, self-focus, experimentation in love, work and worldview” then it will not need to wait until their 20’s. And then, imagine the possibilities of the self-assured, reflective, creative 20-somethings. These new adults will not worry about seeking out a new life script to follow, instead, they will be confident in writing their own.

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