Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Attack on Today's Parent

I recently read New York Times' "The Opt-Out Generation Wants Back In" that again focused on the whole debate between moms dropping out of the work force to stay at home and moms giving up valuable family time to continue their career ambitions. They also went through though and linked about every other article or book that had been written on the topic since the late 90s so I spent half the evening reading through all the old and new pieces written on this sometimes family bashing debate, even my husband did,because some of those writers when they weren’t putting down women for their choices they were doing some major husband bashing. Then there’s the recent debate on not allowing children in restaurants because parents today aren’t disciplining them or teaching them manners. So here’s what I have to say and share with you, Moms and Dads, about parenthood choices today.

Have you fed your kids every day of their lives whether it was breast milk or formula, wal mart baby food or your own pureed baby food, frozen chicken nuggets or organic ones. None of it really matters as long as you’re not starving your kid or feeding them straight sugar all day (a little sugar doesn't hurt, right?) so you’re doing a good job.

Do you help your child stay clean? Whether you wrap their bottom in cloth or pampers or throw them in the tub or even occasionally hose them off in the backyard after they’ve played in the mud and then later decide you’re going to count that as their bath until the morning you’re still doing a good job.

Do you attempt creative things with your kids? Even if laying on the floor coloring in the Winnie Pooh coloring book is as crafty as you get then you are present in their lives so you are doing a good job.

Do you let your kid make messes, explore, try new things? Even when things end in disaster and you think maybe that was a bad idea you’re being present in their lives so again you're doing a good job.

Do you introduce your kids to something you love to do? Kids will love whatever you like to do because it’s something they do with you and they’ll do it over and over again with you because it becomes something special they associate with you so no matter what that something is you’re being present in their lives and are doing a good job.

Are you present in your kids lives every day even on those exhausted, barely functioning days? Even if your bonding time of the day is just cuddling on the couch together watching TV then you’re there showing them even tired you love them so you're still doing a good job on your worse days.

Do you accept that neither you nor your kids are perfect, that you both are always learning and growing? We are all human; we are going to make mistakes but as long as we know to accept when we’re wrong and work on doing a little better than the day before than you’re doing a good job.

Do you discipline them when they’re wrong, hold accountable for their mistakes, and then show them that’s it’s okay because we all mess up sometimes. Making this effort to teach rather than ignore when mistakes happen shows them you care and love them so you’re doing a good job.

Do you love your kids for who they are? You love them when they’re good, when they’re bad, and even when they’re at their worse (you may not like them at this moment) then you’re doing a good job.

I have a pretty huge circle of mom friends and they range from women that have given birth at home to women like myself that gave birth in a hospital with the wonderful pain meds. I have mom friends that have breastfed for two years to others that have never breastfed; some who try their hardest to stick to the organic, purest foods they can and other mom friends like myself that just try to make sure we’re hitting the food pyramid with a few sugars thrown in. Some of them work, some of them stay home, some work from home. We all make different choices, the choices that work for us and our families, but the most important one is the one no one talks about in the media induced mommy wars but it’s one I see as a teacher when working with kids. That is the choice in how we love our kids. Because the one common thing I see among all these moms I know, is the absolute unconditional love and devotion they give to their children. We are all the same in that choice. It may seem like a simple choice, but as a teacher I can unfortunately tell you that that’s not necessarily always the case. Some children go through life feeling unloved, not wanted, and it may not be because their parent doesn’t love them, it could just simply be because they don’t know how due to their own upbringing or problems like drug and alcohol addiction.

Why does our media spend so much time over a debate over choices that mothers make? I guess the thing to see is that women that care about these choices already made the only right choice. They care because they love their child, but there are children out there whose parent probably isn’t even aware of half these choices because they’re struggling with the most important choice of all-how to love and show their child they love them. Sometimes this lack of love or know how is what leads to the “these parents today” cries that society seems to want to cast down on our generation similiar to what the media is focusing on now with the recent restuarant debate about kids behavior. I know from my experience with the general public, as well as from my sister's experience as a social worker, there are “those parents today” that aren’t there for their children and therefore aren’t disciplining them or teaching them manners and accountability. But not everyone is “that parent” and for those of us that aren’t maybe we obsess over these other choices that in some ways matter very little to how our children turn out because we don’t want to be cast into that negative “parents today” category.

I feel that no matter which debate you’re looking at with either the mommy war choices or the negative “parents today” label, the only right choice and label that matters is whether we’re a loving, present parent. Working, staying home, how we choose to feed and diaper them, or every other parent debate that is out there, there really is only one that really matters. We can cover up the issue of whether and how a parent loves their child with all these other so called important choices and make parents feel less adequate for one choice over another, but the real debate is in our love and presence in their lives. So instead of wasting our time attacking parents for giving up careers for family or pursuing careers at the supposed expense of their family, if we really want to get down to a choice that is impacting our society maybe start focusing on the parents that never made the right choice in loving their child because I can unfortunately tell you they are out there.

1 comment:

  1. Everyone is different and different things work for different people. I agree that every child deserves to be loved. And as all people are different all children feel loved differently. As long as the child feels loved, that is what really matters.