Starbucks Ate My Child’s Innocence

My morning began with reading “Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman.  Then it brought me, here, to Starbucks where I pulled Daniel Amen’s “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life” from the shelf of the accompanying Barnes and Nobel store.  I was reading to prepare for a blog about positive psychology and how to overcome melancholy when the strangest thing happen.

A girl, no older than nine, stood in front of me in the Starbucks line with two other girls about the same age.   I figured an adult was having the girls stand in line while running to the bathroom or such, but no adult ever showed.  We stood in line for about five minutes as I watched the girls pick up three reusable cups from a basket that was market: “limited time $1”.  The little blond girl set her reusable cup up on the counter as she ordered: “Grande Carmel Frappuccino”.  The Starbucks barista asked a name and she kindly obliged and said “Bridgette- B-R-I-D-G-E-T-T-E.”  Bridgette then pulled out a Starbucks gift card from her Hello Kitty clutch to finalize the translation.

All of this got me thinking.  Not about dietary restrictions and how kiddos should not have that much caffeine or sugar in one drink (hey you have to watch them later, I don’t), but about life’s innocence and what we teach our kids.  In a world where Bridgette probably knows more about my IPad than I do, I shouldn’t be surprised.  But where does the line get drawn?  At what point in childhood should we actually teach our children to adopt adult tendencies?

We are constant to quickly age our children and I am not against the learning that takes place.  However, when you teach a kid to manage money you offer them an opportunity to take on anxieties or moods that come along with that.  To be honest, as I watched Bridgette interact with her peers it was clear that she possibly adopted some negative tendencies from adults.  She watched as her peer tried to put on the lid and spilled, but instead of offering assistance Bridgette said, “you are so bad at that,” while giggling and waiting for her Grande Carmel Frappuccino.  It’s not Bridgette’s fault in a world that honors criticism rather than encouragement.  Maybe if adults became more emotionally intelligent we could teach our future generations to lend a hand instead of laugh.  I can’t help but be slightly melancholy about the current state of affairs making our children grow up faster than they need to.

In the years to come I might see a 20-year-old Bridgette selling stocks from her smart phone while in that same line, but her emotional intelligence will be in the same place.  Her smiles will be curbed by her need to act impulsively and her situational intelligence to order Starbucks will not help her increase her self-control in a world that comes more and more self-absorbed.  If I use my IPad to sync my IPhone to my ICloud, I will still live in a world full of I’s.  Don’t let Starbucks eat your child.  Expand the world for your kids, and do it intentionally, no one else will for you.

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