Author Ralph Schoenstein once described the culture of the
overly-ambitious as “a world where parents are competing to see whose
child can be pushed out of childhood first, a world that moved one
cartoonist to show a mother asking a father, ‘But if everyone’s
children achieve, how will we know ours are superior?’.”
In his book, Toilet Trained for Yale, Schoenstein tells of
pregnant women jogging as they wear $300 belts which feature speakers
blasting mind music toward their unborn babies — intended to boost the
baby’s IQ in the womb. These parents are determined to raise superior
children who will gain admission to Harvard, Yale, or another Ivy
League school. This, they assume, will ensure the child’s success,
happiness, and fulfillment in life.
Now, New York Magazine
comes along with an article that describes a mad rush to get children
into the “right” kindergarten — as if this will determine the child’s
eventual success and security. In “Cracking the Kindergarten Code,” writer Andrew Marks suggests eleven principles for gaining a child’s admission to the right New York City kindergarten.
He writes: In the old days, New York City horror stories tended
to involve street crime. Nowadays, many of the most chilling tales have
to do with getting children into the right kindergarten. “Next year is
going to be even worse,” warns Amanda Uhry, the president of Manhattan
Private School Advisors, which charges $6,000 to help families get
their kids into desirable private elementary schools. “It’s the
post-9/11 baby boom. So many more kids were born in the city, and now
they’re applying to kindergarten.”
Parents are courting admission officers, pushing others out of the
way, offering bribes, and pushing their kids to improve their cognitive
skills to make themselves more attractive to prestige preschool
There is even an aptitude test for preschoolers — often known as the ERB. Actually, the test is a project of the Educational Records Bureau in cooperation with the Independent Schools Admissions Association of New York. A low score at age four can be disastrous.
This entire phenomenon points to the fact that too many parents are
treating their children as projects to be perfected rather than as
persons to be loved, nurtured, taught, and disciplined. As this article
makes clear, some parents see children as an extension of ego —
trophies for social status. This is unspeakably sad.