The Case for Breaking Up With Your Parents

While Lambert, author of “Nonstop,” admires the multitasking undergraduates Harvard attracts, he also worries about the intellectual and emotional costs of such all-consuming busyness. In a turn toward gravitas, he quotes the French film director Jean Renoir’s observation that “the foundation of all civilization is loitering” and wonders aloud if “unstructured chunks of time” aren’t necessary for creative thinking. And while careful to phrase his concerns ever so delicately—this is the Harvard alumni magazine, after all—he seems afraid that one reason today’s students are so driven and compulsive is that they have been trained up to it since babyhood: From preschool on, they are accustomed to their parents pushing them ferociously to make use of every spare minute. Contemporary middle-class parents—often themselves highly accomplished professionals—”groom their children for high achievement,” he suspects, “in ways that set in motion the culture of scheduled lives and nonstop activity.” He quotes a former Harvard dean of student life:

This is the play-date generation. … There was a time when children came home from school and just played randomly with their friends. Or hung around and got bored, and eventually that would lead you on to something. Kids don’t get to do that now. Busy parents book them into things constantly—violin lessons, ballet lessons, swimming teams. The kids get the idea that someone will always be structuring their time for them.

The Case for Breaking Up With Your Parents – The Chronicle Review – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

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