There are too many parenting articles, so here’s another one…

Based on all the parenting articles I’ve read lately, I’ve determined that we’re all destined to fail as parents.

My husband offered that I sound angry, which I’m not. I’m simply overwhelmed by the volume of information and level of contradiction, thanks largely to social media.

Last week I read I’m inadequately (or inaccurately) using the expensive gear we have, only to be coined a helicopter parent this week for stressing safety.

I’m supposed to make sure my kids experience distress and don’t expect happiness 100% of the time, but then I need to ask them about their feelings.

We’re supposed to raise them to think for themselves by giving them options, but then we’re scolded for letting them make decisions.

You shouldn’t give your kids too much sugar or let them decide what to eat, but if you go on Pinterest for ideas for playfully introducing a variety of healthy foods you’ll be picked on for trying to be supermom. Our moms gave us moonpies, juice, soda, vienna sausages and TV dinners, and look how we turned out. Oh wait, obesity is running more rampant than ever.

We’re told to do crafts to help develop fine motor skills and inspire creativity, but then we’re over-stimulating and playing WITH them too much when we should just send them outside (barefoot) to discover the world. Make sure you’re out there with them though…it’s dangerous and those bare feet will get some kind of parasite for sure.

One day I’m crazy for sending my child to public school rather than homeschooling and choosing our own enrichment programs; the next I’m not exposing them enough and will end up with a socially inept, awkward child.

My kids are only in one program, yet I’m bombarded by articles detailing how over-scheduled they are.

I let them get as dirty as they can, but some old guy in a parking lot takes it upon himself to remind me that boys should play in the dirt.

It goes on and on!

Share… don’t share. Teach them to respect adults, but don’t force them to hug someone… Expose them to art, music, foreign language and education from a young age, but don’t push them to learn too much when they’re young or you’ll totally screw them up forever. Did I mention over-scheduling? Don’t even get me started on discipline!

Maybe, just maybe, if we move to a farm with no technology, where my kids can only eat what they harvest, but are never around sharp tools and wear helmets at all times, maybe then some of you will be happy. BUT, someone else will call me “granola” and point to their kid who only ever eats processed food and watches TV 24/7 who happens to be the epitome of health and genius, and tell me I’m not exposing them to the real world. As parents, we can’t win…even with each other.

I appreciate all the concern and advice, but all it makes me do is second guess my decisions and my instincts as a parent. It’s too much. I’m really trying, but even that takes a beating when we’re told we’re putting too much time and thought into parenting.

None of you out there is a perfect parent, and neither am I. Thankfully, it’s not all on me. Nature plays a role, God plays a role, and there will be many other influencers and experiences that have absolutely nothing to do with mama. Please take it down a notch and let me screw up my children all by myself.

Also, what are you doing reading this article on your phone? Your child might see you and be negatively affected since you’re clearly choosing to look at it rather than watch him eat his lunch. Another one bites the dust!

 

 


House rules, and guns at playdates

Let me get right to the point.

We don’t have guns in our house because I think we’re more likely to suffer an accident than be heroes, and I’m terrified of my son being a victim of a gun accident. We have various forms of protection, but none of them are as final and deadly as a gun.

I’m not against guns. I have a healthy amount of experience handling guns, and I have no problem with other people owning them. I just don’t want them in my house. Our house; our rules.

Where I’m struggling is with playdates. When it’s not my house, it’s not my rules, and every family can make their personal choices. I think it’s important for my son to see that not every family manages their home exactly as we do, and he should adapt accordingly, out of respect, so long as it doesn’t require compromising core values. Rules, toys, food…none of that bothers me. What scares the bejesus out of me is my son being involved in a gun accident at someone else’s house.

My husband made a good point in saying that people aren’t likely to get defensive about this matter if we ask. He thinks other parents will happily show us their safety measures if they have guns in the house, because all parents share a fear of something happening to their children.

I would love to hear your feedback on this, and how you’ve handled situations where your comfort level might be tested when your child is at a friend’s house. Also, this is a great opportunity for all my parent-friends to know where we stand on this particular issue.

Again, I have no issue with the right to bear arms (though I think it should be restricted to single shot style guns rather than assault weapons), we just choose not to bear them at our house.


Inherent inheritance: blame the parents

Some of the best advice I’ve heard recently:

Everyone has mommy/daddy issues, including your mom/dad. Everyone just does the best they can.

If you think about it, Adam and Eve were probably the first to have parental issues. When your dad is God, there’s a lot of pressure to be awesome.

All of us have things we praise our parents for, and things we blame our parents for. We forget that our parents have/had parents, too…until we become parents, ourselves. Suddenly, each time you tell yourself, “I’m doing the best I can,” you realize your own parents were also doing the best they could with you.

One reason it’s hard to visualize our parents having a tough time is because grandparents tend to be pretty awesome. By the time someone is a grandparent, they’re usually mature and squared away, and they get to be “fun” rather than responsible for grandchildren. Hence, our view of our parents’ parents is a bit skewed.

If only we could combine the energy of young parents with the wisdom of grandparents, we would be onto something!

It’s crazy for me to think that my parents were younger than me when they became parents. I have to stop myself, on the regular, from calling everyone I encountered in my twenties to apologize for my behavior, and I was only responsible for caring for myself and a dog.

I’m still working on me, and now I’m also raising a baby. I’m lucky my dog made it through my crazy, immature years!

The next time you get ready to criticize your parents, remember, what you don’t move past, you’ll pass right along to your own kids. We can’t help but screw each other up at least a little bit. It’s part of the beauty of parenthood.

The more you dish out about your own parents, the more crow you’ll eat later on.

 


Living up to our parents’ dreams

Raise your hand if the following has ever happened to you.

You call home and say: “Hey! Great news! I (insert accomplishment / something you’ve been working towards)!

Parent: “Oh, that’s great. You know what else you should do now?…”

All you really wanted to hear was, “That’s great! / Way to go! / We’re so proud of you! / We knew you could do it!”, and, cut. No add-ons or ways you could improve on it.

Sometimes a supportive parent adds to the weight of ambition.

It’s natural for parents to have hopes and dreams regarding what they think their children can accomplish. They see all of our potential, and they want to encourage us to achieve everything within the realm of possibility.

In addition, parents may see where they could have worked harder for their own goals, and they don’t want their children to miss the same opportunities they did. They want us to shoot higher, go farther, and have even better lives than their own; improve with each generation, right? They want more for us.

As sweet as it is for our parents to want us to ‘be all we can be ‘and ‘live out our dreams’; it equates to a lot of pressure because we don’t want to let them down.

Obviously, they aren’t intending their encouragement as a burden; but, nonetheless, it’s quite a load to carry. We never feel done b/c we’re conditioned to keep trying to reach the next level up. Face it, we could almost always be doing more.

For all the phases when they saw me grow and learn every day, it’s a bit more sporadic, and sometimes even stagnant, now. Think about it. Our parents have seen us learn everything we know, and the first twenty years were pretty exciting and filled with accomplishments. Now, most days are pretty much the same, so there’s less to report.

It’s not that I don’t want to keep striving to be better; it’s just that I don’t know how to judge how far I’ve come or how I’m doing because there’s always another step I could be taking.

As well-intentioned as encouragement from loved ones is, will there ever be a day when a call home includes the words, “You’ve become more than we ever could have dreamed. Why don’t you just sit back and feel proud of what you’ve already accomplished for a little while.”?

I’m just going to throw it out there that I’ll likely never make headlines. I see this as a positive considering some of the headlines out there. (Hello, Weiner tweeter!)

I want to keep making my parents proud, but sometimes I wish they saw a little less potential in me. Yes, it would be amazing to be a best-selling author, famous singer, the next Jillian Michaels, or a chef on the Food Network, but I’m also really okay with being (mostly) normal.

I know my parents are proud and love me no matter what I do or accomplish. I’m not questioning that at all. What I’m trying to find is a healthy balance between ambition, and enjoying life as it is presently.

When I hear all of the things my parents believe I am capable of accomplishing, it scares me. Instead of hearing it in a completely positive way – which I know is how it’s intended – I see how much farther I have to go, and am acutely aware of the possibility that it will never be fully achieved.

In order to appreciate who I am today, I need to know that it’s okay if I don’t go for the gold everyday (or, even make it to the games). As glad as I am knowing my parents think I could be great, it would be even better to hear that good will do.