Friday, January 17, 2014

The Never Ending Parenting Guilt

As adults in today’s society – and especially as parents – we are truly bombarded by the media about parenting skills: how you should feed your baby, how to know if your toddler is developing at an appropriate rate, making sure your student is ready for middle school, etc., etc. The list goes on forever.

I have been an avid consumer of all of these articles and some have offered helpful advice. In the midst of this, we see reality shows on TV that purposely exploit the habits of less-than-stellar parents to drive adults to see the other side of this equation, thus also driving TV ratings. So on one side, we have the advocates for perfect parenting and on the other, the networks that seek to shock by showcasing “bad parents.” Interesting, right?

Well, in the past 2 days, I have read 2 articles that both focus on how my habits, formed over several decades, are potentially leading to the ruin of my children’s development into mature, capable, productive members of society. Clearly, I’m not letting them manage challenges on their own without my intervention, I remind them to do things too many times, and I am too quickly trying to solve their problems. I suck, don’t I? As if I didn’t already know that I’m not perfect…

This also leads me to analyze my own childhood; I’m an only child of two wonderful and incredibly overprotective parents. They provided me with every possible advantage but they were/are clearly risk-averse, often yelled, and guided me in specific directions. Was that a bad thing? From what I can tell, I’m a fairly responsible, caring person with my share of flaws but I think I’m doing okay.

So here’s a tip for you, psychologists, TV stations, media, and others who seek to tell us all about how we may be holding our kids back: NO ONE is a perfect parent. We are all flawed and we all had parents who were flawed in one way or another which also contributed to our own parenting styles. Let us not forget that there is such disparity in the world – on a daily basis, we see “overparenting,” as well as “underparenting.” In the end, most parents that I know are doing the best they can. We are working, attending soccer games, navigating through middle school hormones, trying to grab a little time with our spouses now and then…the list goes on forever.

As far as I can tell, I’ve got 2 fairly well-rounded, healthy, happy kids. Do I tell them 50 times to be careful when they go sledding? YES! Do I yell at them when they don’t put their stuff away? Sometimes…okay, often. Do I try to help them before they ask for help when I see them struggling? Yes, sometimes. Does all of this mean that I’m creating little people who will grow up not knowing how to be self-sufficient or independent? I don’t think so. Does it mean that they will grow up having flaws? Most definitely! They will have to face the things that we all do: making friends, getting dumped by a girlfriend/boyfriend, mustering as much self-confidence as possible when they enter the job market, and, finally, becoming parents themselves. But hopefully the things that I have taught them, despite my shortcomings, will help them as they navigate the world. Now it’s time for me to go – I need to remind my 11-year old to clean his room for the 50th time.


No comments: