Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Parenting Disconnect and The Mommy Wars

I think parents today are in a catch 22. Your child is supposed to behave perfectly all the time. Say “please” and “thank you”, share everything they have, and on top of that give hugs and smile politely to everyone they meet. They are supposed to sit for hours on end quietly in adult situations. If they make a peep or act the least bit like well, children, they should be left at home with a nanny. All of this is also supposed to be accomplished without spanking, but talking to and “reasoning with” your toddler.
The expectations of children are higher than ever. Children are expected to read going into kindergarten. I don’t know about you, but I learned my letters in kindergarten. Children can’t play outside anymore, because it’s too dangerous. And, if they ARE outside playing, the parents are irresponsible and lazy or the children are hoodlums and obviously up to no good. They don’t have any down time anymore to just play anyway. There is endless soccer, zoo school, music school, museum school, preschool (for two years old and up), gymnastics, and art school. So many things that if they aren’t in, parents feel guilty that they aren’t offering everything possible for their child, but at the same time we are over whelming them with so many activities that they don’t get to just play and learn things naturally like they should. And we expect them to take all this on with the mentality of an adult.
I think there is a disconnect here, and I’m not really sure how to fix it at this point, but here’s a couple of thoughts to start.
I think parents (mothers mainly) have to stop comparing each other’s children and judging each other. Everyone is different, has a different child in a different circumstance. No one is exactly alike. Because of this, there is NO WAY you can honestly know what you would do in the other’s shoes. So stop trying to make them fit. Being a parent is hard enough today without this added judgment. We need to stop and just start supporting one another. It does take a village~ if not to raise the child, to keep the parents SANE! So, let’s all start to work on the village part and maybe stop and look in the mirror before looking out the window. If we stop comparing each other’s children, also, (which I am SO guilty of, for the record) we will stop beating our heads in trying to make them meet expectations that they just aren’t ready to meet, and we can start enjoying them for who they are and how they grow. If you are there for them, and help them learn from their mistakes (which takes time that you won’t have if you’re too busy paying attention to the other kids) then you’ll usually end up with a pretty great kid. O.K., that last sentence is just hopeful at this point… we have yet to see as my oldest isn’t even 3 yet!
So, I guess I just want to say to all the parents out there~ I know it’s rough. I hope you can get the support that we all need. And finally, GOOD LUCK!

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