Can your kids tie their shoes? Can they zip their jackets? Can they use a can opener?
Many kids across American cannot do basic mechanical chores and Associated Press writer Beth Harpaz wonders if we’re raising a generation of incapable kids.
“Second-graders who can’t tie shoes or zip jackets. Four-year-olds in Pull-Ups diapers. Five-year-olds in strollers. Teens and preteens befuddled by can openers and ice-cube trays. College kids who’ve never done laundry, taken a bus alone or addressed an envelope.”
“Are we raising a generation of nincompoops? And do we have only ourselves to blame? Or are some of these things simply the result of kids growing up with push-button technology in an era when mechanical devices are gradually being replaced by electronics?”
“Susan Maushart, a mother of three, says her teenage daughter ‘literally does not know how to use a can opener. Most cans come with pull-tops these days. I see her reaching for a can that requires a can opener, and her shoulders slump and she goes for something else.’ ”
“Teenagers are so accustomed to either throwing their clothes on the floor or hanging them on hooks that Maushart says her ‘kids actually struggle with the mechanics of a clothes hanger.’ ”
“Many kids never learn to do ordinary household tasks. They have no chores. Take-out and drive-through meals have replaced home cooking. And busy families who can afford it often outsource house-cleaning and lawn care.”
” ‘It’s so all laid out for them,’ said Maushart, author of the forthcoming book ‘The Winter of Our Disconnect,’ about her efforts to wean her family from its dependence on technology. ‘Having so much comfort and ease is what has led to this situation — the Velcro sneakers, the Pull-Ups generation. You can pee in your pants and we’ll take care of it for you!’ “
The author of the article was personally affected when a visiting 12-year-old couldn’t get ice out of a regular ice tray as opposed to the automatic dispenser on the refrigerator.
Personally, I am thrilled when my 3-year-old can change from her tap shoes into her ballet shoes by herself at dance class because her 7-year old brother is still mastering tying his shoes thanks to years of Velcro. (Damn you Velcro — so convenient, yet such an enabler!)
When my oldest daughter was in kindergarten I noticed she would still have her jacket on at lunch even though the outdoor temperature had warmed up. I finally realized the poor child didn’t know how to unzip her own jacket!! I had always done it for her out of convenience. (That one is clearly on me! Bad helicopter mother! However, I have made sure the other two children, including the 3-year-old, can zip.)
Through the years teenage babysitters have surprised me with their incompetence in the kitchen. One didn’t know how to use the can opener. Another cooked the pizza when the cardboard still under it and yet another asked if she should boil the corn on the cob still in its husk. I wrote it off to their mothers never cooking at home, but maybe this is about not being exposed to common mechanical tools.
I don’t think this generation is dumb. My 3-year-old knows how to use our digital camera and my 7-year-old downloads movies from Netflix on the computer to the X-Box hard drive to watch later. They create computer games on their own, do algebra in the fourth grade and could make a Power Point presentation in second grade.
I do believe the problem is not the intelligence of the children but with helicopter parents and technology doing things for them.
This may be opening a can of worms but I think that kids who go to day care learn how to zip their jackets, tie their shoes, put on the skates and wipe their bottoms sooner because the day care workers can’t do it for all twenty kids in the class. Because my kids were always home with me I tied their shoes and zipped their jackets (and wiped the bottoms) as we hustled out the door.
I am pleased to say that my second-grader’s class just worked on addressing envelopes last week so I know he can do that one! But now I want to see if my kids can get ice from an old fashioned tray. (I sense a sneaky test coming on!)
So what do you think: Are we raising a generation of incapable nincompoops? Are they actually dumb? Are we doing too much for them? Are we not teaching them basic life skills?
Do you think kids that go to day care learn these everyday life skills better or faster than kids that have stay-at-home moms or dads?
How do you explain he disconnect between the amazing things they can accomplish (like using my smart phone better than me) and the simple things they cannot?
Share with us funny (or sad) examples of stuff your kids can’t do!