I was talking with a friend today about how parenting has become so hard. Everyday we see blog posts, new statistics, and another article on Facebook about how parents don’t like parenting. I admit to being guilty of these sentiments myself.
I readily admit that I used to love parenting until, six years later, I realize I am still doing the same things I have been doing all along: parks, playgrounds, constant vigilance, etc. Honestly, I thought it would have gotten easier by now.
Don’t jump to conclusions; I am familiar with the Yiddish expression, “Little children, little problems; big children, big problems.” I didn’t think it would be easier per se, just easier in a not-so-physically-demanding-every-minute-of-the-day kind of way.
And then I realized why I am so miserable. And maybe why so many other parents are, too. Our parents never did this kind of parenting! We were never scrutinized by our mothers and fathers for so many hours out of the day.
My mother used to send us outside to play while she stayed home and cleaned, cooked, or just took a break. The rule was: don’t come back unless it’s dark or you’re bleeding. And we loved it! We gained confidence, independence, and explored our world without a grown up lurking behind telling us to be careful or correcting our behavior at every turn.
We learned to work in groups without a teacher directing us. We learned how to negotiate and tackle problems without a parent intervening. We learned to take risks and trust our instincts.
Our children have so much less freedom than we did and as a result we, the parents, have so much less freedom as well.
I want to parent like my mother did, but I know that in today’s world someone would call social services on me. I mentioned all of this to my friend, and she replied, “That’s because the world is more dangerous today than when we were little.”
Has the world really become more dangerous, or are we allowing ourselves to be ruled by fear? Are we choosing not to instill confidence in our children? Are we choosing to create dependency?
And if we are making these choices what will be the consequences? Are we willing to be this kind of parent forever?
I have started taking steps to encourage my children’s independence. I’ve developed an allowance system, chores, and I am forcing myself to step away from interfering when there are altercations with other kids. I’m becoming that parent who looks at her phone when she’s around her kids and I’m realizing how beneficial it might actually be. My children are still young so I do need to be out with them at playgrounds and parks. But in a few more years, ahhh…just don’t call social services on me!