Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Super parenting shouldn't be our goal
Raising two daughters that are 5 years apart is no easy task. Two girls with totally different personalities, temperaments, development stages. When I was a child parenting wasn't as hard. Kids were left to their own devices. We played outside, had friends, got our hearts broken and our knees scrapped and we survived. But at this age many of us are going through therapy and this new generation of parents feel pressured more and more to be perfect parents. We feel fully responsible for making sure our kids grow up to be happy and well adjusted adults. Even the best intentioned parent makes poor decisions, putting our children at risk of needing therapy or hating us for the rest of our lives.
Right now, my little one is having trouble adjusting to my mom leaving. My mom took care of her from when she was 2 till she turned 4. She spoiled her. She spent every waking moment with her. Let her get away with almost anything. Now I’m left with the task of teaching her to follow house rules, to not whine, to learn to be selfless, to learn to entertain herself. She spends all day saying: "mommy, be with me!" in a whiny voice and I find myself thinking that my mom permitted this. Grandma, be with me! And she would spend the whole day entertaining her. I have another child, a 10 year old tween that also needs me to be there with her and help her through the changes she's about to go through. How do I divide myself when both my daughters need so much of me, and when my husband has 3 jobs and gets home after the girls are asleep. When I spend my mornings at work and rush home to two needy children, then spend the evenings cleaning up for when my husband gets home, feeling that I didn’t really get much time for myself and wondering if I gave my daughters enough attention. I end up feeling guilty for ignoring them while I made dinner or took a shower. What are we parents supposed to do? Should I start my children in therapy now? Scheduling two more activities in the already overscheduled week? And with winter comes the feeling of wanting to stay home, not wanting to be outside in the cold frosty air, wishing that spring comes soon with warmer weather that encourages people to go out more and play.
The thing is that these books and articles about super parenting encourage this kind of over scheduling of children (and parents), and it makes me doubt myself. Is it really my responsibility to have something for them to do at all times? Should I be spending more time actively being with them? Then there are the other books that say that mom’s need to take care of themselves, because if mom doesn’t take care of herself then she is no good to the family, and the other books that say that in order for a marriage to be successful, the woman has to make the marriage be the #1 priority over the children, because a happy marriage creates happy parents that can take better care of their children. I find myself thinking how do I schedule my life in order to make sure my children are entertained at all times and I have time for myself and my marriage is my first priority? Wouldn’t I be then over scheduling myself? Is it even possible to achieve what we try to achieve these days? I think we should cut each other some slack. Go back to basics. We should stop worrying about being perfect parents and be content with being good enough.