Don't forget the kids
Today I read something that left me feeling slightly "off". It wasn't all that controversial. And it certainly wasn't anything worth getting worked up over. But still, I wondered why I felt so unsettled.
It was another "parenting piece" that glorified the "good 'ol days" when parents sent their kids out to play and didn't "let" them back in till dinnertime. Parents back then didn't worry about much and they sure as heck didn't put time into "entertaining" their children.
Well, now that I'm writing it out like that, I can see a few more reasons why this bothered me. If there is anything I've learned from other experienced parents that I admire, it's that it is never wrong to be kind or help our kids. So while there may be many people who wax nostalgic about those days, there are many others who were not best served by those parenting "methods".
This article (which I'm not linking - not putting more energy towards something that irked me! AND I'm trying to be less "reactive" - I'll get there at the end of this - promise!) said that we've made parenting "precious" and that our mothers "raised" us while we "parent." It was a derogatory thing - this
"parenting" in quotes.
So here are two things (one little and one BIG) that generally bother me and seem to come up in articles like this one.
1) The idea of "either/or" extremes - EITHER parents are busting their butts to make their children's lives magical and perfect thereby creating dependent monsters OR they're relaxing, letting the kids find ways to "entertain themselves" and because of that the kids are more self-reliant.
Come on! Seriously? I've done some seriously creative and time consuming things that were pretty effing magical, if I do say myself. Treasure hunts, "Holiday" Parties, Awesome birthdays, Painting murals, Hogwarts acceptance letters attached to stuffed owls - you know, the basics. But you know what? I'm also pretty darn lazy sometimes (and by sometimes, I mean several days per week). Why does it have to be one or the other? If you are up to making an awesome thing happen and excited about it then do it! If you aren't (Elf on the Shelf? No thanks!) - then don't! Just stop comparing yourself to other mamas, and your family to other families. Do what makes you and your family happy! And don't use articles like these ones as an excuse to be lazy all the time. Doing fun, nice things for your kids is important and they DO appreciate it.
2) These articles are just another example of childism. Because the article isn't even about the kids. It's about the mother. The MOTHER feels guilty, the MOTHER thinks we do too much for the kids, the MOTHER is remembering her childhood fondly, the MOTHER thinks we should kick the kids outside again like the good ol' days.
What about the kids? I've said it before, and I'll say it again:
Children are PEOPLE, and Parenting is a RELATIONSHIP.
When we generalize and focus on what we think is the right way to "parent" we are leaving the most important part of the equation out - the children. Does YOUR child want to be out playing with other kids all day? Yes? Then find ways to make it happen! Or does YOUR child prefer to stay close to you still, stay close to home, and do quieter activities inside? Why shouldn't that be an option? Isn't there the same variation in "adult populations"? Then why shouldn't we expect it in children? Perhaps your child wants to be out playing all day one day and inside the next. I know that happens to me!
In relationships you cannot go wrong by listening, supporting, and treating others with respectful loving kindness.
When guilt is becoming the dominant feeling in your emotional landscape it's time to examine why. A little guilt is ok. Examine it - is it justified? Then change your behavior. If it's not, then let it go.
I told you, this was nothing to get worked up over - right? Well tonight, I calmed my overexcited mind with some important thoughts - my kids love me, my kids want to be around me, my kids are HAPPY with this life we are leading, I am happy, my husband is happy... we are doing something right. And so I felt better. I share because I hope I can help others feel that kind of contentment in their lives too.
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Wife, mom, information and peace seeker.