Irvington PTSA and The Race to Nowhere

To The Editor:

Thank you to the Irvington PTSA for showing The Race To Nowhere last week to a large crowd.. It’s about our culture of overscheduled and overachieving families who set no limits on how hard their children work and perform. All in a race for the big trophy of an Ivy league degree and big bucks. Instead we see children losing their childhood, becoming very depressed and one committing suicide.

What struck me was the passivity of the parents. Disturbingly, as a mother and psychotherapist I see this here too. Many parents just go along. Most do not say no to the school’s excessive workloads and extracurricular demands or to their children’s demands. Some fear if they tell a teacher the work is too much the teacher may retaliate and hurt their child. Some parents are afraid if they say no to their children’s demands their child might get angry (they will), fall behind peers, be out of the loop, or have no friends. Some parents are too busy with their own lives to even notice problems. Some give their children whatever they want to relieve themselves of guilt because they are never home or for some other problem.

Taking a stand is not popular or easy. When I have questioned inappropriate homework or policy authority figures usually tell me ‘you are the only one to say this.’ Here are some things I have complained about: 1. H.W. in kindergarten 2. Weekend H.W. in 1st grade. (Other parents were mad too but chose to complete it themselves). 3. Clevage exposure in girl’s dance performances (ages 5-18). 4. Allowing cell phone use in the H.S. and quiet cell use in the H.S. Library. (The parent site committee voted against the complaint).

In fairness to parents this is a very hard time to raise children. There is much more now to say no to then years ago. Besides school demands the marketers have our children captive. Parents, myself included, become numb and confused with all the demands. It is a lonely, unpopular road to take a stand and say no. When parents protect children from the demands of adulthood children feel safer and are less depressed. We need to safeguard their childhood.


Joanne Pappas, LCSW

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About the Author: Joanne Pappas