Pigeon-Holing Children

Every generation asks the same question: What’s wrong with kids today? I chuckle every time I ask that same question of myself. I notice we try to pin the blame on some external source; TV, video games, computers, etc. The bottom line though is that the blame really rests with us, the parents.

I noticed a trend starting when I had my son. People would set “play dates” for their babies – I’m talking about babies from birth to 3 years old. I didn’t get that, I still don’t. From there they move on to other structured environments like pre-school, pre-kindergarten, then onto kindergarten and school.

Now, I’m all for teaching and educating our children. I’m definitely all for nurturing our children and instilling in them a set of values that will carry them through life. Such as honesty, knowing right from wrong, treating others as you want others to treat you, etc.

What I see happening these days is that people are having sex, making babies, having babies and then not wanting to carry the responsibility of teaching and raising that child. Instead they rely on others to do the job for them.

I see children incapable of entertaining themselves because they were never allowed the benefit of being free enough to think for themselves and discover what they like and don’t like on their own. Instead they are forced into “play dates” and school activities almost from birth. Their lives are scheduled for them. It’s no wonder they are not capable of sitting quietly with a good book and letting their imaginations take them places.

I was reading a blog the other day and found this link to a story that after pondering for several days realized is probably going to cause more chaos in a child’s life than it will any real benefit. Thank you Cracker Lilo for finding this article and posting the link to it.

Born to Run? Little Ones Get Test for Sports Gene

Kevin Moloney for The New York Times

DNA collected by swabbing the inside of a cheek can be used to determine whether a child is likely to excel at a particular sport.

Published: November 29, 2008

BOULDER, Colo. — When Donna Campiglia learned recently that a genetic test might be able to determine which sports suit the talents of her 2 ½-year-old son, Noah, she instantly said, Where can I get it and how much does it cost?

“I could see how some people might think the test would pigeonhole your child into doing fewer sports or being exposed to fewer things, but I still think it’s good to match them with the right activity,” Ms. Campiglia, 36, said as she watched a toddler class at Boulder Indoor Soccer in which Noah struggled to take direction from the coach between juice and potty breaks.

“I think it would prevent a lot of parental frustration,” she said.

I can understand where this woman is coming from with her thinking, initially one would think it is a good idea. But in thinking on it further, I realized that it may create more problems than ever.

I also disagree with her notion that it would prevent a lot of parental frustration. Parental frustration? What about the child’s frustration?

We’ve all heard the stories of parents pushing their kids to do some sport or activity that the parent has their heart set on for the child. We’ve all heard the stories of the disappointment and self-esteem issues when a child doesn’t or can’t live up to a parents’ expectations for them. On these grounds this testing sounds like a good idea.

But…………you knew there had to be a ‘but’ in here – admit it…………WHAT happens if the child’s DNA test shows that your son would be good at football? The parent then pushes the child to play football because that is what he’ll be good at, right? NOW what if that child doesn’t like football and his heart and mind set on science, or music, or art, or, God/dess forbid, dancing? How many parents will still allow that child to pursue and investigate the things that interest the child rather than push that child to do what some test says he’d be good at?

What IF a girls tests strong in say swimming, but she hates swimming and wants to play football or basketball instead?

At least this article is balanced in that it also states the professional concerns about how right or accurate this testing is. It also mentions some of my concerns here:

Still, some athletes prove science, and seemingly their genetics, wrong. Research on an Olympic long jumper from Spain showed that he had no copies of the R variant, indicating that athletic success is probably affected by a combination of genes as well as factors like environment, training, nutrition and luck.

“Just think if that Spanish kid’s parents had done the test and said, ‘No, your genes show that you are going to be a bad long jumper, so we are going to make you a golfer,’ ” said Carl Foster, a co-author of the study, who is the director of the human performance laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. “Now look at him. He’s the springiest guy in Spain. He’s Tigger. We don’t yet understand what combination of genes creates that kind of explosiveness.”

Then there’s the issue of this kind of testing closely resembling Hitler’s Eugenics program to create his “perfect race”.

Kevin Reilly, the president of Atlas Sports Genetics and a former weight-lifting coach, expected the test to be controversial. He said some people were concerned that it would cause “a rebirth of eugenics, similar to what Hitler did in trying to create this race of perfect athletes.”

Mr. Reilly said he feared what he called misuse by parents who go overboard with the results and specialize their children too quickly and fervently.

And here we see someone else who agrees with me about the results not matching a parents expectations of/for their child:

“I’m nervous about people who get back results that don’t match their expectations,” he said. “What will they do if their son would not be good at football? How will they mentally and emotionally deal with that?”

Unfortunately, I see more problems arising with this than I see good from it.

Whatever happened to letting children be children and discover, question, investigate and find their own interests and paths. Children are NOT the brainless idiots many would like to believe they are.

I’m glad I was born when I was and that I grew up in a world where we were allowed to find our own identities and dream our own dreams. Where we were free to pursue our own pleasures and interests and not those of what some test said we should. I’m glad I held onto that and raised my own child that way.

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~ by swfreedomlover on December 7, 2008.

3 Responses to “Pigeon-Holing Children”

  1. I suffer slightly from what I have termed “Sport’s Dad Syndrome.”
    While I was always small, and not the best talent in the world, I loved copetitive sports, especially football. When we brought home my first son, I thought, “here’s my football player!” now we find out, without his glasses, he’s practically blind as a bat. Something with his depth perception I think is off. I have already agreed, after much internal debate that he will not be pushed into sports, although he does have a nice spiral when he throws the football. He is more of a thinker than a jock.
    The second son, however, shows promise…good eyesight, competitive, hardheaded, and drive to learn physical activities. guess we’ll see how he turns out, but you can bet your buns I’m not coughing up dough for a stupid DNA test.

  2. Part of our lessons each week is to watch this show called “The Human Body”. I think last week it was about strength. Anyhow, this dad in Russia had been training his girls from INFANCY with weights. Ever see a 5 year old lift 45 lbs? I have.

    Anyhow, when they were interviewing the dad, one thing really caught my attention (other than the obvious health issues): HE wanted them to do this. Obviously since training them since they were 3 months old (he attached rice bags to their arms and legs, which seems cruel too), he didn’t ask them what they want. To me this is no different than teaching religion to a child. He never asked them if this was the life they would want. HE wanted it, so they got it whether they want it or not.

    Parents need to realize that we shouldn’t be having children (little human beings with wants, needs, and personalities of their own) in order to fulfill our own wants and desires (other than the desire to HAVE children). This testing is only going to push parents into making decisions they have no right to make.

    Why not test them so they can also do the job society (how long until government sticks their fingers in this pie) deems appropriate due to the genetic testing? “Well, Jimmy, it says here you will excel in police work, I don’t care if you want to be a scientist. You better serve society as a policeman. Ve must do vat is best for the Motherland.”

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