The latest buzzword in today’s modern world of parenting is ‘resilience’. There are books and seminars on the importance of raising resilient kiddies and teachers are directed to embrace the ‘cause’ with gusto. Even extracurricular activities, from drama courses to taekwondo, are marketed as ‘building resilience’.
Why this sudden need to build resilient children when Australian kids in the past have lived through far bleaker times and even world wars? Are we finally admitting that we are leaving the planet in such a rotten state of decline that our precious children will require resilience in the face of global warming and environmental catastrophe? I think not, as this in itself would require the resilience needed to admit we have a problem in the first place. It would mean admitting that we don’t have the resilience required to fix the mess we have already made because we aren’t resilient enough to make the necessary sacrifices to our ‘lifestyle’ for the sake of our children, yet we have the audacity to preach the resilience mantra to little children!
Like free-range parenting, the immunisation debate, breast versus bottle and cloth versus disposable, ‘resilience’ is yet another trendy, middle-class ‘First World issue’. I bet one doesn’t find ‘resilience training’ in schools in Africa, where children are faced with the threat of civil war, starvation and death. So what the hell are we, in the Eastern Suburbs, building our coddled children – children whose parents have raised them to have a perverse sense of entitlement and indulgence; a notion of entitlement bred into them from the day that their Yummy Mummy double parked the Silver Lexus 4WD outside the trendiest of cafes whilst proceeding to block the footpath with the $1600 bugaboo before popping into Bird for the latest Baby Dinnigan party frock – up to be resilient against?
According to my teacher friends, resilience training involves building emotional resilience against ‘disappointment and difficult times’. Quite telling then, that the ‘resilient movement’ is huge in our private school system, where ‘disappointment’ equates to the family having to forgo the ski trip to Aspen and opt for Perisher instead, or travel in a Toyota Sahara rather than a Range Rover Vogue.
It’s hard to fathom how parenting experts (no doubt paid a large sum to push their mantra in the education system) believe that children will buy this resilience crap when their parents live a life guided by trends, self satisfaction, success at all costs and a ‘you deserve it’ attitude. We live in a society where resilience is not prized; a soft society that is guided by advertising and media; a society that claims that it is doing it tough because we don’t have the necessary resilience to acknowledge that we actually don’t need the latest iPhone, Mercedes or a holiday house.
Our role models are overpaid CEOs who throw tantrums and look for scapegoats when the market economy deals them a capitalistic blow, sportsmen who feign mental illness as an excuse for off-field misdemeanors and myopic politicians who don’t have the resilience to make difficult long-term decisions or stand up to lobbyists.
When we can’t leave our house looking less than perfect, when we spend our time playing one-upmanship with other parents, when we turn everything about our children’s lives into a competition, isn’t it time that we took the resilience training?