I love to read. Especially blogs and articles on everything to do with the messy, wonderful, exhausting and exhilarating life of being a parent.
For the most part, I like what I read. I pick little nuggets of information here and there that I think works for me and leave the rest. But when I recently came across an article stating that children should in no way be the most important people in your family, I was a little bothered by it.
Yes, the author may have some valid points. And yes, everyone parents differently, so maybe he was just offering a different way to look at it. You could even say that he was arguing that your partner should be an incredibly important part of your life (which I wholeheartedly agree with).
But it was the over-arching theme that really bugged me.
Apparently, my generation is ruining children.
Helicopter parenting. Co-sleeping. Soothers. iPads. Screen time. Our political correctness. Limiting sugar. Youth sports. Social media. Scheduling. Even playing with our children too much. We’ve heard it all before. But now—making them feel too important? Too valued?! I just don’t buy it.
Yet, on the other hand, we’re told our children don’t get enough exercise. We never let them outdoors. We watch them too closely. We don’t let them have fun. We stick them in front of video games. We give them devices to keep them quiet.
We’re being shamed—publicly—for failing at parenthood. Our children no longer have a carefree, outdoorsy childhood. They can’t think for themselves. They will grow up to be an entitled army of brats. The future is bleak.
And this time—I call bullshit.
I, like most other parents in my generation, love my children more than anything. I want the best for them. I don’t want to take the easy way out. I don’t want them to be over protected or struggle when they’re grown.
I want them to learn how to do things for themselves. I want them to be confident. I want them to experience everything life has to offer—including disappointment. I want them to learn and love and thrive.
And I truly and honestly don’t see my generation of parents raising kids with no rules or boundaries. I see parents around me who still believe in responsibilities. Who want their kids to be kind, caring, and giving. Kids who will follow the rules and will contribute to society. We may not all be taking a super-hard line because the fighting just doesn’t seem worth it. But at the end of the day, most of the parents I know are able to strike a good balance.
So if I choose to let my kids have a soother to get to sleep at night, or if I decide that it’s okay that my 18-month-old knows how to work an iPad—please remember that I also choose to do many other things with them, too.
I take them camping. And swimming in lakes. We explore nature and pick up rocks and sticks and make beds out of grass and twigs for fairies. And other times, we watch TV. Lots of it. Because sometimes, that’s what we need.
I let them know that they have to do things for themselves sometimes. That I can’t drop everything and play Candy Land with them just because they want to. But other times, I find it more fun to say yes. So I do.
I have them in multiple activities—but that’s because they really want to do gymnastics and ballet and hockey and swimming. They also have lots of time to play independently. And they do. My daughters make forts together, play “family”, make up games, look at books together and so much more in their down time.
Sometimes I take them on long trips to experience other places. Or we go out for long dinners at restaurants. And sometimes, I let them play with my phone or a tablet because I just need a moment of peace. It’s not socially acceptable for children to be unruly—and sometimes, I just need to give myself a break.
My children—and many children growing up right now—are leading balanced lives, led by parents who adore them more than they ever imagined they could. It takes our breath away how amazing our children are. And other times, it’s really, really hard and we need a bit of reprieve.
But in the end, we love them. We do what we think is right. It may be different from ‘back in the day’, but that doesn’t mean it’s disastrous.
I’ll be the first to admit that some of us will go overboard at times. And I realize that we may not have it all figured out yet. But we’re trying. We’re trying our very best.
And if we raise a generation of kids who grow up feeling valued and important, are we really failing?