But wasn’t it our generation that caused ths loss of independence? Wasn’t it us, perhaps looking to replace that benign neglect with a greater involvement, that started the trend of micro-management, of not allowing kids time alone, time to be bored, time to play on their own. Of slicing the day into one-hour slots of activities, of doing their homework for them, of agonising over their exams, of taking them on a nationwide tour of universities, and of letting them hang around the house until they’re thirty. I expect
technology and social media probably bowled a few bouncers along the way, but frankly it’s a wonder they can even feed themselves (they don’t of course, they use Just Eat).
Now, I don’t have kids, so this is a bit like me yelling at the TV, shouting at a jockey’s inability to ride a strong finish on a horse I’ve backed, without facing up to the fact I have never even sat on a horse my entire life, and am indeed totally terrified of them. Plus, I also l know that I would have been similarly interfering.
Because I have Bobby. When I was young, we lived in a row of twelve houses backing onto an open field. Our boxer dog, Honey, would be thrown out of the house to take herself off for a walk. She’d trot off into the field, amble into a few back gardens, say hallo to similarly roaming delinquent mutts, perhaps snaffle a treat or two along the way, before strolling back home along the main road. No-one thought this unusual. (If you read Mark Wallington’s 500 Mile Walkies, written in 1983, you’ll find that the dog wanders about entirely at its own leisure.) Bobby, not so much. Weeks go by and he has never been out of my company. We tell people that he suffers from separation anxiety and he does, but I think it’s increasingly obvious that the bigger problem is so do I. Precious parenting, there you have it.
Now, personally, I like most of the kids I know. They seem much more emotionally mature than I ever was (or am). I’d say my friends generally have done a much better job than their parents did. But say it’s true that today’s kids are indeed millennial snowflakes, or some other sneering pejorative, that our generation applies to them (often in Daily Mail articles bemoaning something or other) isn’t that, um, down to us?