Modern parents these days, get the short end of the stick.
Roughly speaking for most parents (I dare not say everyone is like this), we want the best for our kids, we want to give them everything we’ve got, and we want to raise them to be great, functioning, high-performing independent members of society.
Well. It isn’t as easy as it sounds, and I think Modern Parents have to take the Stick of Shame from everyone at every angle of society.
You are damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.
Here are a few things I have observed based on books, parenting articles, being part of a playgroup, talking to other parents, and just first-hand experience as a parent.
PARENTS IN THE PAST DIDN’T CONSIDER THEIR CHILDREN AT ALL
..in the sense that they just treated their kids like mini adults.
They didn’t think about their sensibilities, how they felt, their feelings.
They didn’t care about how they felt because they made the decisions and that was it.
Kids had no say, no input and that was how it was.
Keep in mind, while this sounds heavenly, this was also the age where most societies considered women to be second-class citizens (IF AT ALL), and thought that the world was flat.
They.. frankly.. didn’t.. give..two.. #%#($’s about what their kids thought. They were born, and they were probably there to work the land and be a contributor.
“Don’t like mush? Too bad. Eat it or die.”
“Oh munchkin! Why won’t you eat!? Please, eat something!!!! Here, how about I make you some _____? Would you like that?”
….*commences a whole extra hour of preparing a different meal for a kid because they just refuse to eat things like red sauce on it, unless it is pasta or chicken nuggets with ketchup”.
In this regard though, I have to say I am probably more the Former than the Latter when it comes to food.
If we have a meal and Baby Bun doesn’t like it, he doesn’t eat. If he is hungry enough, HE WILL EAT.
Children will not let themselves starve. They will just fill up on snacks and crap as much as you let them, and avoid actual food if that is what they wish to do.
The trick is to remove all possible choice.
My motto in this regard is:
“Eat or starve.“
PARENTS FEEL THE NEED TO BE ALPHA PARENTS
I see parents all around me, KILLING THEMSELVES to be perfect wives, perfect husbands, serving great meals cooked from scratch every night, volunteering at their kids’ activities and events, creating big splashy birthdays..
“Don’t have a fancy toy? You best be happy you have food in your belly, so quit your whining. Go get me a beer after you do the dishes.”
“Oh I will work extra overtime to buy you whatever you need, my Precious! Here, let’s sit down and do WHATEVER YOU WANT, my darling RIGHT NOW. I’ll just do all of these dirty dishes at midnight when you’re asleep and happy.”
It is freakin’ exhausting to try and be perfect all the time, especially as a perfect parent.
Don’t forget, part of being a Perfect Parent is also being a Perfect Wife or Perfect Husband.
Not to mention feeling like you just don’t measure up to other parents when you talk to them.
Gosh, even I feel inadequate as a parent when I hear what one mother did for her daughter recently, and I can’t even remember what it is right now but it was Pinterest-worthy…. like Create-A-Personalized-Calendar-From-Scratch-With-My-Kid-Drawing-All-The-Photos kind of insanity.
PARENTS FEEL THE NEED TO HAVE ALPHA KIDS
Along with being Alpha Parents, you need Alpha Kids.
Kids who can sing, dance, jump, play, be active and strong, yet also smart and sensitive, know their letters, numbers, spell, read, bla bla bla.
“Well. My kid isn’t dead yet. Must be doing something right.”
“My kid is a child model, who knows how to read, and can do basic algebra! He’s only 4!”
Baby Einstein has taken over our brains. No one cared about this in the past, everyone considered children to be blobs before the age of 5, I think.
I know of programs that promise to help mold your ONE MONTH OLD BABY (omg really) into the next Einstein.
It is ridiculous. Children no longer have childhoods.
WE FEEL THE NEED TO ONE-UP EACH OTHER WITH WHATEVER WE HAVE GOT
Okay, so this is not parent-specific because I am currently colleagues with a guy who feels the need to brag about all of his investment properties, bla bla bla..
I just smile and nod. I don’t give away anything, but I am inwardly thinking: Bluster all you want. We shall see who ends up retired before 50.
We are all proud of our kids, okay, and it is PERFECTLY FINE to brag a little about how proud you are of them, but they are all less than 5 years old right now.
There is still time for them to change into a sullen teenager who sulks and does drugs… (I kid.. I kid…)
But really though, it is fine to say: Oh my kid does _____!
I do it with Baby Bun.
I am amazed at how much he knows already, but I am trying to clamp it down because he is not an Alpha Kid, and I don’t want him to be one. His second language is not that great, and unless I am constantly working at his numbers as an Alpha Parent, it goes in one ear and 2 months later, he has forgotten what he has learned if it isn’t reinforced.
… but it is really quite another thing to say that your kid has visited over 20 countries and he isn’t even 3.
*cue eye rolls from EVERYONE*
Honestly, that kind of bragging is not cool.
Not only are you bragging about your kid being a world traveler, you’re also stating at how much free time and money you have to be able to do this.
SOCIETY EXPECTS US TO GIVE OUR SOULS TO OUR KIDS
“Oh.. you’re NOT putting your kid in private Mandarin lessons? But how is he going to ever compete on the world stage if he can’t speak Mandarin?”
For real. I heard this.
Society is expecting us to give up our souls for our kids, give them every penny, do what we can with blood, sweat and tears to turn out the next mini mogul who will create an app at 5 years old and become the YOUNGEST billionaire in the world.
But.. is that really the goal here?
To tell kids they have to be the richest, most famous person in the world and then watch as their aspirations crumble like ashes because not everyone can be #1?
All I want, and I keep repeating to myself, is to have Baby Bun be independent, self-reliant, and a good person. I am already proud to call him my son, but I want him to be proud of who he has become as well.
That’s, really .. it.
I don’t need him to be the next Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Bill Gates or Warren Buffett. It’s just not realistic and it is not something you can plan for.
PARENTS ARE CATERING TO THEIR KIDS MORE
Know why parents are haggard? They’re going from one activity to another, to another, to another to keep their kid well-rounded, from dance classes to soccer practice to piano lessons to Mandarin as a second language.
We feel like if we aren’t on top, we aren’t worth anything.
We have to be THE BEST, and we don’t want to mess up our kids by not having given them piano lessons at a young age.
Even I find myself slowly getting sucked into this spiral, thinking: OH! Baby Bun would LOVE the piano!.. Maybe??
I already have second-language lessons planned for the weekends and at least piano to start to see if he takes to it, but that means I’ve already committed to 5 hours of my weekend shot to crap (have to drive him to language school and back), and then piano is another 3 hours at least, not to mention the nagging of practicing at home…
All of this is just ridiculous… and yet I am drawn to it like a moth to a flame.
To sum it up — it seems like we are being enslaved by our children, our expectations of what parenting is, and society’s expectations of what we should be and do.
However, at the end of the day, it is what works for YOU.
You do you.