The following letter from a Toronto, Ontario mother speaks to the challenges of parenting progeny of different ages/generations. The Canadian Mom’s commentary mirrors much of the stress experienced by US parents in an age of extreme depression inducing expectations scholastically and socially.
We had two boys in our early 20s, and a daughter in our early 40s.(age difference between oldest and youngest sibling approximately 20 years) So she was raised in another generation. I saw first-hand how much things had changed since our boys were in school.
Performance pressures were infinitely greater – to have the highest grades, most impressive volunteer résumés, most versatile job skills. In Grades 11 and 12, she and her friends were chronically sick with exhaustion. When I picture them then, I don’t see laughing, carefree teens; I see kids with tired eyes and furrowed brows.
When our sons graduated from high school, they and their friends applied to half a dozen regional universities, all of which were considered equally acceptable, none of which they set foot in until they moved into their dorms. By the time our daughter was ready, an overblown, U.S.-style obsession with college selection had taken hold; there were campuses to visit, personal statements to write, and a hyped-up, manufactured sense that it was a life-or-death decision(a clear manifestation of stressing out kids and sacrificing their mental health and well being for profit motivated college’s financial gain. These institutions of “higher profits, I mean learning” are competing to elevate their enrollment numbers, callously disregarding the best interests of the young people entering adulthood. They are effectively engaging in the same type of high pressure corporate advertising that is so prevalent in the United States!) .
Then, of course, there was social media. She was bullied online when she was 13; I don’t think she ever really got over it. Who does? Add on shrinking job opportunities and the frightening state of the world, and it’s no mystery why our teens are anxious and depressed.