I came across this op-ed post by my dear friend Celene Loo, and had to share this straight-up observation of our generation.
Are we guilty of only existing in our comfort zone, and not pushing the boundaries?
Are we helicopter parenting so much, that our children no longer need to make their own decisions, since everything in their lives are planned down to the second?
Are we raising a generation of WIMPS??
Read on and let me know what you think…
THIS GENERATION OF WIMPS NEEDS TO LIVE DANGEROUSLY
BY CELENE P. LOO
We are a generation of wimps. Unlike our forefathers, we have not experienced any war or significant hardships. The only scars of battle we have are from failed culinary attempts or high school bullying. We are soft, scared and risk-averse.
The other day a 30-something female friend announced on her Facebook page (with trepidation, she confessed) that she would be doing something she has never done before – travel to Switzerland for a two-week holiday , without first consulting any travel guides. (Ooooh Aaaah!) However to mitigate this great adventure, she would be loaded with four credit cards and pre-booked hotel accommodation. That was her definition of ‘danger’.
Pardon me for blowing my own trumpet: I have backpacked alone on a shoestring budget to 80 countries including war-torn Afghanistan and Iraq and across challenging terrain such as the Silk Road and the Amazon jungle. I understand that safety and comfort are primary concerns for most travellers, but then there are ‘Rolls-Royce adventurers’. Take the the fat rich braggart who did a five-day trek in Nepal because a platoon of skinny gungas carried his luggage. (Hardly a sweat inducing adventure) He never needed to eat camp food, console himself on energy bars or baked beans because two donkeys carried his fresh produce during entire the journey.
These days it seems that even climbing to Everest Base Camp is more of a matter of financial finesse than physical challenge. If you can have the means to assemble a solid team of experienced guides, the latest technology and the best sports apparatus, then your chances of reaching base camp are almost guaranteed. But if your sorry ass is too exhausted, the Sherpa can carry you on his back, trek to the top, so that you can snap the victory picture and post it on Instagram and Facebook.
Our children are even more pathetic. During the volunteer events of my charity Giving Bread, where we distribute bread to the elderly, I have seen teenagers purse their lips and make faces while entering old buildings in Kowloon. We are not talking about extreme dilapidation or even the cage homes in Sham Shui Po or the homeless shelters in Yau Ma Tei. Nursing homes for the aged are clean, airy and managed by nurses. Sure, it is not your lovely apartment in Mid-levels with a shiny lobby and security guards who dash to open the door for you. For your information, your dad pays for all these comforts. You did not earn the love.
Getting a little rough or dirty for these children, even while playing, is no longer fashionable. In today’s playground, surfaces are rubber-cushioned and ‘danger spots’ closely monitored by mum, helicoptering over their princes and princesses with precise coaching.
My colleague, a father of two, shared that the locals have a phrase to describe today’s youngsters: ‘scarecrow children’ – arms stretched out, stationary, waiting to be served. Waiting for the maid to dress them, the driver to take them to school, mum to decide if piano or violin class is more favourable for entry into Ivy League.
The Eternal Umbilicus
Behold the wholly sanitised childhood, without skinned knees or a C in mathematics. Today’s wimps are raised in a psychological hothouse where they are over-monitored and over-sheltered, thanks to the army of domestic helpers, tutors, drivers, mobile phones and Skype calls. This perpetual access to parents infantilises the young, keeping them in a permanent state of dependency. So whenever the slightest difficulty arises, instead of trying to figure it themselves they call home for help.
Take More Risks
I read in a Harvard psychology report that one of the greatest factors in producing anxiety among children today is parents hovering and protecting them incessantly, which is counter-intuitive as one would assume that parental protection reduces childhood stress. These children become so protected that their nervous system has developed to be overly sensitive to stimulation, often assigning (wrongly) danger or risks even to safe and mundane situations. They are fearful of unfamiliar people and events, and become withdrawn, cautious and even depressed.
Our generation of wimps need to take more risks. Heroes are made not during peace but war. We need to get out of our comfort zone, to live more dangerously. Everything is overly planned with risk-reward calibrations. I mean, we even want to know who is sitting at our dinner table before we commit to an event!
About the Author
Harvard- and Cambridge-educated financier Celene P. Loo has a penchant for speed, including fast cars and marathon running. She is also a keen artist, the author of two books, and the founder of local charity Giving Bread.