Being a parent for more than six years now has gotten me to realize that raising my kids is vastly different than the way I was raised. Children today are being held to a higher level or achievement. Kids are being pushed more and more to accomplish those "milestones" years before their parents and grandparents would even begin to learn about them. Such milestones are reading, writing, potty-training, having money, etc.
I recall while growing up, my only concern in life was simply to have fun. Once I entered grade school, I realized that I needed to show that I could learn and apply that knowledge on a piece of paper. I did not receive my first homework assignment until the third grade. Comparatively, my son (kindergarten) has homework every night - including book reports.
Children growing up in yesteryear seemed to have more freedom and less accountability. The "norm" in society was to have the father work all day while the mother stays at home raising the kids. Nowadays, most families are dual-income families (meaning that both parents are working, some just so that they can put their kids in daycare), so individual parental raising is becoming less and less. Some of the wealthier families even hire a nanny to care for the children - which of course creates a greater divide between the child and parent.
Children today seem to be expected to be able to take on more responsibilities than most teenagers did just 20 years ago. For example, I read about how someone has started paying their children (ages 7 and under) to do chores around the house. This is a great concept to get them to learn about helping out the family as well as learning the value of a dollar. Other families simply expect their children to complete the tasks without any monetary compensation - as these tasks are to be expected as being part of a family.
Conversely, I have seen families whereby the parents do everything for the kids - even through their teenage years (some well into their twenties), as many young adults are still living at home with their parents. Why won't these parents teach their kids to complete even the simplest tasks such as doing laundry, making dinner, cleaning up? Probably because the parents do not want to take the time to see their children do the task incorrectly, and thus just perform the duty themselves. However, this is counter-productive, as this only creates more work for the parent, and does a disservice to the child, as they are not gaining these much needed life-essential skills.
As parents, our job is to teach and train our children to become functioning people in society - otherwise, we run the risk of our children becoming a burden on their friends, family, and neighbors. Taking the time to teach and educate them now will give them a better chance at becoming independent later in life, thus allowing us to retire peacefully and comfortably.
Of course, a key component of the issue is the motivation of the child. Many teenagers today feel a strong sense of self-entitlement, as their parents performed all the tasks for them at an early age. Many of these kids are beyond help, but perhaps if they were thrusted into a situation where they had no safety net, they just might actually care enough to become independent.
That's not to say that my folks did not teach me anything, they just did not "expect" me to accomplish these milestones before they did. My parents stressed education as a top priority in my home, and I continue that trend today. I subscribe to the notion that achieving in education yields rewards. My folks also made sure that I respected others and my home. If I break something, then I would be responsible for replacing the item (or the item will not be replaced at all).
This may sound like tough love, but so long as the children are not in danger of getting harmed or being "scarred for life", this kind of tactic will make them stronger. Granted, there are many different parenting styles - and who's to say which is correct or the best one?