Monday, December 13, 2004

Infantilization of the Young

Something that really makes me nuts is how children and young adults are just being treated like they're incapable of being responsible for anything. They turn into adults with the same problems.

You know what? When I was in school, my grades were my responsibility. When I got all A's, I got no reward, other than the satisfaction of making straight A's. When I got a D in English, my mom told me I should probably do better, but she was concerned I got a B in math, because it was obvious I wasn't applying myself. I didn't get punished though. And because of the D in English, was moved out of the honors class. A month in the "regular" class, and I was working my butt off to get back in honors as soon as I could. And did my parents go to the school and beg them to move me back? Of course not. I had to realize that the consequences of my actions was that I'd be stuck in regular-level english for two years. Oh, the horror!

When I was in college, my second semester I had a low (for me) GPA. It was 2.something. I'd just met the man who became my husband, and he worked strange hours, so I found myself out with him at 3 am on a "school night". On a day I'd have an 8 am class. I didn't spend as much time on my studies, and didn't do as well as I could have. But when I finally realized what I wanted to do next -- go to grad school in biophysics -- I realized I had to buckle down. After that I got mostly A's, some B's and I was accepted at Johns Hopkins.

I realized my life and my schooling was my responsibility -- not my parents. They were there to ensure I got all the oppurtunities they could get me. For example, they fought for better programs at the school, they made sure my siblings were placed in appropriate level classes (i didn't have so much trouble with that, due to my personality). They were there to make sure the oppurtunities existed. But it was up to us kids to take what we were given and use it. No carrots, no sticks.

Here's an article about the effects this infantilization is having on the young.

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