A Generation at Stake
A detailed comprehensive “How To Parent” Manual is not given by God at the time of childbirth. Though there are a plethora of parenting self-help books given to new parents at baby showers from no parenting friends, one would soon discover that parenting is strictly trial and error and hopefully it will be more concrete by the third child.
Nevertheless, once that little person glazes into their parents’ eyes, the parent (s) make an unwritten proclamation that no matter what it takes, they will be loved, cherished, and protected. As they grow into the toddler stage, the parent(s) begin to teach them new things and allow for exploration and discovery to take place. Even as they start their first day of kindergarten, though, with hesitation, their parent (s) enable(s) them to branch out to discovery without being right at their side. The pattern continues in this fashion throughout their primary school years.
Conversely, in their teenage years, this stance is altered because now they are experiencing the world and being bombarded with concepts and ideas that will shape whom they become in adulthood. Some are contradictory to how the parent(s) have raised them according to their upbringing, morals, and belief systems. At once they realize the world is changing around them and their teenage is the subject of its focus.
The Landscape is Shifting
Being a child of the late 70’s parenting was stern yet fluid. Stern in the aspect that there were rules, moral standards, and respect ingrained in within us which allowed no more to cross the boundaries. Fluid because it allowed us to challenge thinking, commence on daily adventures exploring the world around us and experience life in a way to develop our character.
In the 1980s “free range” childhood became less frequent.
“Stories of abducted children appeared more frequently in the news, and in 1984, images of them began showing up on milk cartons. In response, many parents pulled in the reins and worked harder to keep their children safe. In a variety of ways, children born after 1980 – Millennials – got a consistent message from adults: Life is dangerous, but adults will do everything in their power to protect you from harm, not just from strangers but from one another as well”.
The change in the parenting climate eventually lead to the great debate of nurture vs. nature and the issue of helicopter parenting.
As Generation X or Xennials began to have their children, it appeared that yet another unwritten proclamation was forged not to raise their children regulated by the strict parenting structures of their parent. They embraced this new parenting concept while still had to deal with the issues of the world and the latest advancements in technology. With the Gen X’s and Xennials as parents, the landscape of parenting began to shift once again in North America.
Xennials, in particular, parent from a position of utilizes traditional and technological technique, encompassing parenting skills passed down from their childhood while incorporating new techniques researched through the internet. They are not per se “Helicopter parents” since they allow for innovative play; however, they do have some non-negotiable rules.
Dynamics of parenting styles remain inconclusive since Gen X and Xennials as well as the generations before them can only parent for the context in which involves cultural influences, parental exposure, and childhood experiences.
The Current Dilemma
Now the children of Gen X and Xennials are storming the grounds of universities from a life of being sheltered. While college should be a time of exploration, it becomes a breeding ground for needs of trigger warnings, fragile moral behavior, maladaptive intellectual behavior, physiological harm, and microaggression.
According to Haidt and Lukainoff, these students also enter with the following three untruths:
- What doesn’t kill you, makes you weaker.
- Always trust your feelings.
- Life is a battle between good people and evil people.
Instead of creating an environment where learning and constructive opposition are encouraged; it becomes a place where most shrink deeper into their protective shells.
Parenting with Knowledge
Acknowledge the need to let go and clearly understand the difference between nurturing and coddling.
Nurturing is about meeting the child’s basic physical and emotional needs in a way that encourages the child to want to be capable. Coddling is more about taking opportunities to be capable away from kids so that they don’t grow and develop confidence in their abilities, especially when disappointment or problems arise.
Simply put, nurturing a child makes him capable while coddling a child makes him incapable.
Acknowledge the world is changing and character is developed through life experiences, positive and negative. Be secure and help guide and not lead them.
The current college campus has to deal with increasing corporatization and consumerization, new ideas about social justice and identity politics and rise in political polarization and the student is in the central point to experience them all at once. It is the duties of the parent to assist in the navigation of the student through these uncharted territories.
 David Palumbo-Liu, “‘Coddled Students? That’s Not the Problem’,” Huff Post, September 2, 2016, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/coddled-students-thats-not-the-problem_b_8080166?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAHfTmqCuVP12KtZQtjU1ACT7s0SP6VDgeE0U5wXTfD2xZxtX5sPFIhvtQLuDOozJiE4RG.
 Laura McClain, “19 Signs You’re a Xennial Mom,” Mothering, August 30, 2017, https://www.mothering.com/articles/9-signs-you-are-a-xennial-mom/.
 Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting up a Generation for Failure (New York City: Penguin Press, 2018), 22.
 Ibid. 202
 Ibid. 70
 Shiloh Lundahl, “What Is the Difference between Nurturing and Coddling?,” Arizona Family Therapy Group, March 22, 2014, https://www.arizonafamilytherapygroup.com/what-is-the-difference-between-nurturing-and-coddling/.
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Thank you Shermika for this message on parenting challenges we are facing now. It is a true challenge worldwide and learning is equally a serious problem in our communities. Once upon a time, colleges and university were institutions of high respect where learners were coming out to help shape the world in various disciplines and respect to each other. They were known to be areas of strong civil rights movements because they understood life and treated all learners with respect especially their fellow learned friends. but it is not so today. Thank you for raising this and continues to be a challenge with no answer.