The MeMe Generation

Obesity in children. No one can figure out how it happened or how to solve it. Everywhere I turn, I run into some new "healthy snack" idea. Little packaged apples, little packaged carrots, little packaged cheese cubes. (Gee whiz, I wonder what we did before those little packaged snacks? Oh I know! We handed them an apple!) And sure, a lot of kids will eat those things. And when they're done, they are still hungry for a more substantial and tasty snack!

I don't think the problem is really rooted in the snack choices we offer our children. I think it's that the Me Generation is raising a MeMe Generation.

I'm gonna blame public schools. (The blame goes way back before that, but we'll start here, because public schools is an easy target.) I'm afraid that parents learned early on that the schools would raise their children. That's why parents are so choosy about the schools in an area where they live. Because that's to be their child's newly adopted parent! It's all planned out. From the minute they are born, we are looking forward to getting them out of the house. I wish it were uncommon to hear a parent say (right in front of the child) "Oh! He goes to kindergarten next year! I can't wait to have the break!" And then we are so excited when they are in first grade, because they'll be in school ALL DAY! Even the most involved and loving parents are caught in this trap of looking forward to the break, because most likely they have been paying a babysitter or a nanny and now they get a financial break. And if that weren't enough, we started putting them in pre-school (for their own good, of course) at age two!

So then, they are in school, and we whine about their vacations when they will be home all day long. And how we can't wait for them to go back to school. We can't wait until they graduate and turn 18 so they can move out and we can get on with our lives that we've put on hold for them.

We've learned to put our children away from us. We figured out that if we put them in front of a tv or a computer, they will shut up and we can have some quiet and think. We've had people talking to us all day. We've had traffic and phones and deadlines all day. And now we come home and we have to help with homework! Good God! If a parent is lucky, they will have maybe an hour to themselves. Maybe. And all of this is done in a fragmented way. We can't stop to eat with the family. Everyone is grabbing something and running out the door. Soccer, football, ballet, music, yoga, whatever! Whatever we can do to essentially fill up every minute of every day with productive shit!

And we feed them. We feed them to shut them up. We feed them first at events or family gatherings. At home, we let them eat an entire bag of chips, because we can't be bothered with spending time training them to put some in a bowl and stop at that. Every once in awhile, we awaken from our coma and say, "Oh my! You can't eat just chips! Here! Have some carrots! They're good for you!" So they learn that, not only do they take precedence, but they need to be fed! And they need to leave us alone to do grown up things!

So what we've done is we've raised a generation of people who are entirely gluttonous. We neglect them, so we appease them. Then neglect and appease. They wind up with too many clothes, too many toys, too many gadgets and too much food! I thank God for parents who don't have the means to appease them in such a way! Single parents have become the best parents because they just can't fucking afford it!

So it's not really obesity that is the problem. It's that we, of the self-absorbed lot, have taught them to be like us. Even anorexic children are consumed with self. It's all rooted in this and there is no solution.

But we can start by having dinner with our children every night. At least they can learn some table manners.


super des said...

*notes this for future use*

cathouse teri said...

Good girl. :)

Gunfighter said...

I don't blame public schools Teri... I always find that they are the easy target for so much, when the problem is lazy parents.

Lazy parents don't ensure that their children exercise... or study... or learn... or develop good manners or respectful behavior.


Jenn in Holland said...

Actually this is one of the keen benefits to the change in our lifestyle that came about because of moving to The Netherlands. We spend a lot more time at the dinner table together, and do a lot more wholesome food eating.
I am glad of that. We were definitely victims of the fast-food/convenience eating life in the states.
Also, we do a lot more walking and of course bike riding here. That is showing up as a benefit on lots of levels for all of us.

viciousrumours said...

Oh...where to begin? I don't blame public school, per say....but you're right that people have learned to "put their children away from them". There's even a book and a movie now, "Little Children", that deals with "the monotany of parenting". Huh? Apparently parents are bored being parents. They want more. Apparently their children aren't nearly as entertaining as these folks thought they would be....and they want everyone to know it.

Personally? I hate summer break. It means I have to send my daughter to visit her dad. I'm glad she gets to see her dad...I hate that I have to be without her for three whole months.

GF hit it on the head...lazy parents. What a crime.

Anonymous said...

It will only be a MeMe generation if we allow it.

I don't think that I'm a better parent as a single parent than I was when I was with my children's father, except for the fact that I have to do it all instead of sharing the responsibilities with their father.

Family dinner time has always been a must. I have had no cable in my home (voluntarily) for the past 8 or so years (my children are 9 & 11) and watching movies together is the norm. We have an active lifestyle that takes us lots of places together on our weekend time and weeknight time when there's no homework, which includes being active. My children are older now and don't need my immediate supervision for homework time, but they can ask for help when needed. Before that, I would sit with them while they worked.

They are in one extracurricular activity that allows some balance when it comes to food choices, homework, routine, hygiene and quality family time.

I do need my breaks too. I appreciate the time the children are with their father, the hour or so after they are in bed so that I can focus on being me, but they know that they are loved whole heartedly. There are known expectations on when my children are expected to be self-supporting and it is not at age 18 and gradual lessons along the way that I'll teach them to support that. I am looking forward to my children's gradual autonomy simply because it means that I have raised them successfully, but also because I have a lot of interests as well. Teach by example. To raise an active adult, you must first be one. To teach the importance of growth, they must see your desire to grow.

Of course, I do acknowledge that I may not be the norm in today's society, but I do not believe it's the school's fault. They are their to teach your children the core subject material, but we are their ultimate teachers.

coronaincorona said... go girl!!
People still look at me funny when I preach the same message...but it is so so true...