PL on George Carlin on Child Worship

Did anyone see George Carlin's special on HBO, "Its Bad for Ya" last weekend?
Now, let me be clear, I find a lot of George's "humor" in his later years to be tired and... well... humorless, even though he is a keen observer of the foibles of human beings. His humorlessness notwithstanding, one section of his tirade on modern life in America caught my interest. He decries "a special kind of bullshit" that's taken hold in recent times in our culture: "Child Worship." Carlin defines this as an "excessive devotion to children by professional parents," otherwise referred to as "obsessive diaper sniffers," who are "over-managing their children and robbing them of their childhood." According to Carlin, "Even the simple act of playing has been taken away from children."
At one point, Carlin addresses one of my pet peeves, parents vicariously living through their children. In a most painful bullseye moment, he asks: "Isn't the pressure to succeed placed on kids for the sake of the parents just a sophisticated form of child abuse?" Yes, George, I say it is.
George goes on to say that the so-called "self-esteem movement" has been a complete failure because children never get beyond the artificially indoctrinated notion that they're "special," when in fact, children are "incomplete works." I frequently talk and blog about this "specialness training" as the genesis of narcissism. (Carlin states that studies show "all sociopaths have high self-esteem," a nonclinical misuse of both terms, but his point is understood.)
"A lot of kids never get to hear the truth about themselves," he continues, "until they're in their twenties when their boss fires them," or, I would add, until their love partners leave them because they don't want to be the all-praising parents for a grown-up person.
However jaded George Carlin, now 70 years old, may be, I do agree that child worship is bad for ya!


Elsemarie Hansen said...

I found your web page after I googled George Carlin's comment "professional parents". Wanted to share one of my favorite aricles of all times: The New First Grade – Are Kids Getting Pushed Too Fast, Too Soon?

Cheers Elsa (European-born new mom living here in the US and who foresees an enourmous amount of unhappy kids/teenagers coming our way - due to parent-related-pressure)

Kim said...

Carlin is right on target! In addition to "overmanagement" by "professional parents," an equally insidious trend is allowing children to behave in public however they please, regardless of any inconvenience and/or irritation that they cause to others. Time after time, I hear kids screaming/crying nonstop in stores while their parents obliviously carry on with their business. As a child of the sixties, all my mother had to do was calmly issue the chilling admonition, "Wait 'til your father gets home," and my sisters and I promptly stopped misbehaving. Sadly, today’s parents don't discipline their children. Indeed, they seem almost afraid of the little darlings, or fearful of "scarring" them for life. (NOTE: I'm not advocating child abuse here—merely discipline to help children understand that they are not the center of the universe.)

Then there are the parents who do things like "practice" walking with a newly ambulatory toddler across the floor of a crowded store or restaurant, while everyone behind them is made to crawl at a snail's pace until they’ve reached their destination. Parents who do this sort of thing are in effect saying, “My kid’s needs and my desires—regardless of the situation—are paramount.” Such behavior represents the height of parental egocentrism.

When I hear Carlin's incisive observations on the pitiable state of parenthood today, I'm reminded of how grateful I am that I not only grew up during a different time but also that I was blessed with parents who knew what their job was: not to inflate my self-esteem but to raise me to be a productive, considerate member of society.

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Anonymous said...

I think that we should be able to go up to screaming kids and slap them ourselves if the parents refuse to do it themselves.


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