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.

Toddler sibling love

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Playing at the canal and feeding ducks

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Silvia has started hitting Leo several times a day.  She’s not really mad when she does it.  She just likes to go up to him, swing her arm back and whop him in the face a few times.  I immediately tell her no and she laughs.  I try to be more dramatic about it by plucking her up and plopping her back down several feet away from him and saying “NO! we don’t hit”.  Hoping she makes the connection sometime soon (doubt it) because she tends to protest when I move her away from him, but then she goes right back over to him and does it again.  Leo is so sweet though.  I guess it’s payback.  He used to hit her (still does some) and we would have him say sorry.  Since he can’t actually say “sorry”, he would give her a kiss.  Now, whenever she hits him and I tell her “no”,  Leo goes up to her and kisses her.  So we have Silvia who just hits poor Leo repeatedly, and then saintly Leo who turns the other cheek and plants a kiss on her.  I think he’s trying to say “sorry” for her since he knows that’s what she’s supposed to do.  

We’ve had a busy week.  We bought a pass to the children’s museum and went twice this week!  Last night the kids were “baby-sat” at a room in the church facilities while Joe and I went to a planning meeting for young married couples in our parish.  We were one room over having dinner with everyone and listening to Silvia serenade us with her screaming.  Finally, I gave up and let her crash the dinner meeting.  When is this stranger anxiety/separation anxiety going to end???  She’s had it from 3 months going on 12 months.  Having a baby-sitter is just stressful and sometimes not worth it with a child like this.  

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