Parenting in Modern-Day America

Parents with younger kids: Do you worry if you’re stimulating your kids enough?  Do you wonder if you should be doing more crafts with them or reading more books to them?  If you’re giving them enough attention?  Feeding them super healthy? Do you worry you are screwing them up based on the parenting philosophy you’ve chosen?  Parents with older kids:  Do you worry if you are giving your kids the best education?  Do you worry about their future careers and if they’ll get into a good college?  Their self-esteem and their success?  Their safety? Their health?

CALM DOWN!  (And I’m saying this to myself, too)

If you compare the lives of kids today with those throughout the history of the human race, we have thankfully come a long way.

Basically, throughout time, children were looked at as little adults.  They “came of age” young and began apprenticeships or worked little jobs to help feed their families.    saggar_ladsIf they didn’t work outside the house, many worked around the house and weren’t able to attend school regularly.  Many didn’t learn how to read or write. Girls were married off young, even before the teenage years or adolescence.  There wasn’t much of a childhood.  I suppose I’m thinking mostly of the poor or working class, but that was the majority of people throughout time.

Today, our children can’t get a formal job until they’re 15.  Education is mandatory.  Deadly diseases are not seen as a huge threat to children. They have a long childhood full of play and stimulation.  kidsAs long as we parent them with love, we need not stress and obsess about all the details. Kids are incredibly resilient, despite what some modern “experts” say in laying guilt upon us.  I used to think I might damage my kids by letting them “cry it out” and that they wouldn’t learn to trust me.  I’ve come to realize that these are just small details in their lives and if they grow up in a loving family, these details aren’t going to be more significant than all the other millions of details of how we talk to them each day, how we discipline them, how we hug and kiss them.  I have opinions on what is a preferable way to raise kids, but I’m realizing that kids will be just fine in thousands of different scenarios and who am I to judge what other parents are doing if their kids are not being abused or neglected?

Whether or not parents keep their kids at home or send them to daycare and public school.  Whether or not they cry-it-out or are rocked to sleep.  Whether or not they eat organically or a basic healthy diet (junk food, GMOs and other non-real food is a modern problem, I’ll admit).  Whether or not they can read by age 4 or by age 10.  If they never go on a vacation or go 20x while growing up. If they go to college or not.  If they become a trash collector or a CEO.  These are mostly first world worries.  And they do not define what we should really be concerned about.

 My biggest concern for modern children is that they run a higher risk of becoming spoiled or entitled or narcissistic.  These are the attitudes that cripple them and prevent them from living happy, free and successful adult lives.

How many toys or gadgets do they have?  Do they feel they are owed these things or that they deserve these and other shiny things that catch their eye?  Are they learning the importance of helping around the house as young kids and developing a good work ethic as older kids?  Do they think they are special and deserve special treatment?  Will they be able to live independent adult lives or will they be babied their whole lives and always taught to rely on their parents for phone payments, a car, someone to harass the teacher about a grade on a college paper.  (This helicopter parenting has actually reached college.  Aside from the stories I’ve read, my sister, a college professor, has even dealt with parents trying to complain or advocate for their “child’s” grade!)

This post is part 1 in a series relating to modern parenting.  The next post will be on the book The Narcissism Epidemic:Living in the Age of Entitlement.

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Bible study and the kids’ first daycare experience

A friend invited me to a bible study group that had free childcare during it.  Ok, ok, she had me at free childcare.  I was nervous because Silvia usually naps during that time and doesn’t do too well with new people and no mama.  When we got there I thought they’d be ok because there were so many cool toys.

I snuck away because Leo was seeming hesitant about me leaving even though there was an awesome train table in front of him…which he quickly succumbed to.  The bible study was nice.  I’ve been struggling so long now with frustration and indifference with my faith.  I still put myself in these encounters in hopes that a word here or there might strike me and light a fire again.  This was a non-denominational (or inter-denom?) group.  There were 2 great grandmas there, many many grandmas, some older women and a few younger women and moms.  I say this to try to explain the age differences.  I really liked the diversity of age because I have never been in a group like this.  And these women really like to share about themselves so it was interesting to see a glimpse of their lives.

An obvious revelation: the older women still struggle with the same things I do.  I guess I’d always hoped that I’d be near sainthood by the time I was nearing the end of my life.  It was illuminating, slightly discouraging, but mostly a reminder of our humanity.  They’re just as human as I am and are subject to many of the same temptations, pressures and vanities.  I keep thinking that these faults and weaknesses of mine are something that I will work through over time.  But in reality, up until my death I will struggle, even as St. Paul did.  “In my weakness I am strong” St. Paul said.  I kind of understand that, but not fully.  And the application of it hasn’t really worked for me because I’m too damn impatient to wait for God to work on me.  If God denied St. Paul’s request to take a temptation or struggle away, knowing that it was for the overall benefit of his soul, He could of course do the same for me.  However, I just feel like my requests aren’t being heard because I don’t hear God talking to me in a very direct or indirect way.  Maybe it’s because I don’t have a close spiritual confidant anymore.  When my best friend and I first met, we immediately connected spiritually because we met as youth group leaders.  I felt like God was using me as an instrument in her life and vice versa.   Her advice was always so good and sound that I felt that God was leading me and talking to me through her.  Since I moved away, or since we stopped our work as youth leaders, we don’t talk as much about our faith lives.  We don’t talk near as much in general.  Our lives have gotten way busier, but I miss it.  I miss having someone to put me in my place.

I know a lot of people have accountability partners,  and that is what she was for me.  I think I’ll try to pray about this.

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