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The Infantilization of Teenagers by Middle and Upper Middle Class Parents

Updated on December 25, 2012
gmwilliams profile image

Grace loves to write commentaries on psycho-cultural and sociocultural dynamics in their myriad forms.

Teenagers do not appreciate being infantilized by their parents.   Such parental actions often result in rebellion.   Teenagers who are infantilized by their parents are often emotionally and psychologically crippled.
Teenagers do not appreciate being infantilized by their parents. Such parental actions often result in rebellion. Teenagers who are infantilized by their parents are often emotionally and psychologically crippled. | Source

How Middle and Upper Middle Class Parents Infantilize Their Teenagers

The response to this rhetorical question is in the affirmative. Middle and upper middle income teenagers are some of the most infantilized people from the 1950s until the present day. Many middle and upper middle class teenagers are the products of overparenting. Many parents in middle and upper middle class social environments view their children as their extensions, not as individuals in their own right. According to many middle and upper middle class parents, their main purpose in life is to protect their children from the harshness and rigors of life. It is of paramount importance to middle and upper middle class parents to ascertain that their children have as much as a carefree, idyllic, and blissful existence as possible.

Many middle and upper middle class parents oversupervise their teenagers' cultural, educational, intellectual, and social activities. Oftentimes these parents decide what high school and college their children should attend and what courses they should take in order to accomplish certain educational and career goals. Many middle and upper middle class parents believe that their teenagers are not capable of making reasonable and intellectual decisions on their own. It is these parents' mantra that by overscheduling their teenagers' activities, they do not have any free time to indulge in any unscheduled activities which could result in juvenile delinquency and/or worse. Many middle and upper middle class parents do not want their teenagers to get into trouble with the law and/or have a criminal record.

As a result of middle and upper middle class parents overscheduling their teenagers' activities, many teenagers are quite powerless as to what type of activities they are enrolled in. Life for many middle and upper middle class teenagers revolve around academia, extracurricular/social activities, and home. Many middle and upper middle class teenagers don't enjoy the activities they are enrolled in but participate in these activities to please their parents.

The concept of overparenting, overprotectiveness, and helicopter parenting was invented by middle and upper middle class parents who believe that their teenagers are not capable of making independent decisions. These parents also do not want their children to make mistakes and to have an as perfect life as possible. There was one coworker at my former job who paged her teenaged daughter every day to ascertain what she was doing at all times. This coworker explained that she did not want her daughter to get with the wrong crowd, hence into trouble. She further stated that she often went through her daughter's clothes drawers, closets, and diaries to ascertain what type of friends she had and what types of activities she was involved in. She asserted that her daughter had no right to privacy and that her daughter was her mirror to the world.

As a consequence being overparented and infantilized by their middle and upper middle class parents, many middle and upper middle class teenagers are ill equipped to face the rigors of college and the work world. These teenagers are clearly incapable of having any type of independent judgement, have no stamina and/or backbone. These are the teenagers who go completely wild when they leave home for the first time. Because their parents often interfered with their high school and college curriculum and activities, these teenagers , as adults, are quite unsuccessful in the work world or in situations requiring independent judgement.

Many of these teenagers as adults whine and easily become defeated when things at work become too onerous. Oftentimes, as a result of being infantilized by their parents, many middle and upper middle income teenagers elect not to face the work world until their late twenties. They have the means to postpone the world of work through graduate school education, overseas travel, and sabbaticals through their parents' socioeconomic means. When they start work, many obtain their first jobs through parental connections. Seldom do they achieve anything on their own in contrast to teenagers raised in lower middle and working class socioeconomic environments. The average teenager raised in lower middle and working class socioeconomic environments have parents who do not overparent them and exhorted them to do things on their own.

In summation, many middle and upper middle class teenagers are indeed infantilized by their parents. Their parents overparent them, often overscheduling their school, intellectual, cultural, and social activities. As a result of this, many middle and upper middle class teenagers have no autonomy to exercise independent thinking and develop the necessary skills needed to succeed in the workplace. Many middle and upper middle class teenagers, as a result of being infantilized by their parents, are unable to function independently in college and work environments. These teenagers often do not possess the backbone to withstand difficulties in life which leaves them very vulnerable to be taken advantage off. Many infantilized, affluent teenagers become unsuccessful adults who are incapable of taking care of themselves because their parents did everything for them and do not allow them to become independent.

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    • profile image

      5 years ago

      This is absolutely true. My parents are that exact description, middle class, over involved, helicopter parents. They're still trying to control my life to this day, telling me nothing I want to do is worth doing except go to college for their career choice for me. Treating me like a child even though I've been an adult for nearly 4 years... They won't accept me for who I am either, nothing is good enough.

    • gmwilliams profile imageAUTHOR

      Grace Marguerite Williams 

      6 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      To phdast7: Middle to upper middle class parents, especially if they came from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, have a tendency to infantilize and overprotect their children because they do not want their children to "suffer" the same hardships they did as children. However, in overmollycoddling their children, they are preventing their children from taking risks, using their innate initiative to become independent, and subsequently, harming their sense of self and their human potentiality.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Couldn't agree with you more. Raised in the fifties and sixties by parents who were old school strict about manners and behavior, but they certainly expected us to do for ourselves and keep up our house chores and do yard work, AND WE DID!

      We were lower working class (my dad was Air Force, but not an officer and he had four kids to feed and clothe. It took us a while but eventually we all four earned college degrees. I went on to a graduate degree and now I have the very young adults you have described in my college history courses.

      I wonder at times how many of them would make it without continual parental support and hovering. Good Hub.

    • gmwilliams profile imageAUTHOR

      Grace Marguerite Williams 

      6 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      To krsharp05: Thank you for your response to my hub. Yes, there were associates and classmates in my junior high school class who fit the abovementioned description. Also, when I worked as a Human Rights Specialist, there was a coworker who infantilized her adult son by asking him to call her on the hour regarding his activities. Oh, yes, I have firsthand experiences interfacing with infantilized teenagers and young adults. These people are quite a trial so to speak!

    • krsharp05 profile image

      Kristi Sharp 

      6 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      If I didn't know better I would guess that you've had some direct experience with teenagers and young adults who fit your exact definition. I'm not sure I've ever heard it explained so clearly and concisely. I'm a proponent of pushing your kids and keeping them focused but sometimes I think kids need to learn through good old fashioned life experiences. Excellent Hub!

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