Sunday, February 7, 2016

Parenting in Today's Contradicting Informational Age

So today in my usual browsing of the internet I came across this Huffington Post Parents'  The Modern Parenting Crisis article. As always I find myself amused by the continued contradiction of what our modern informational age tells us about parenting. Half the time it seems like everything we do no matter which end of the parenting spectrum we fall is wrong or a modern day parenting crisis.

I rarely base my own parenting decisions on any of these articles, but I do find myself unable to avoid reading or considering their content. One article will tell us our kids today are lazy and too dependent and engrossed in technology while another will tell us as parents we devote too much of our time and ourselves into making sure they're involved in a wide range of activities. I understand there are extremes. There are parents who invest very little time into their kids and therefore they probably spend too much time in front of the television or their electronics; while there are others who push their kids in their activities to the obsessive point of what  you see on Trophy Kids . I like to think more than the majority of us fall in the middle.

But being in the middle takes a serious amount of dedication on our part as parents so I feel that articles like "The Modern Parenting Crisis" give parents an excuse to cut back on their commitment to their kids or appeases the guilt of those that criticize others and  limit their own commitment to their kids' interests. I truly believe we can be dedicated parents, work our full time careers, and still find solitude for ourselves. I know this is possible. I saw my parents do it, I see my friends do it now, my husband and I do it now in our current lives even though I'm sure the years ahead will be much crazier than they are right now.

Are there going to be sacrifices at time? Yes but most choices come at the sacrifice of something else; didn't we all sacrifice a part of ourselves to become parents in the first place? Honestly, can you really be the same person you were before kids after you have kids? Really I think the parenting crisis debate of today is a choice between us or our kids? Do we sacrifice them and their interests or us and our interests?  But it doesn't have to be an all or nothing, does it?

There are weeks like this past one where it's Girls Scouts one night, gymnastics another, and a two night special event at school where we're gone four out of the five evenings on top of being gone ten hours a day (with our long commutes) working full time all week with extra meetings or work commitments between the two of us. Is it a bit exhausting? Of course. Was there other stuff that was not taken care of? Definitely. But the beauty of your kids being in activities also means they're old enough to help out around the house. They helped empty the dishwasher in the middle of the week, they put their own clothes away after they're washed, and they know if I'm still taking them to their activities or if they want to go out and play for a bit before we head out for the evenings' activity their room and playroom better be cleaned up and pass Inspector Mommy. Sometimes they help me make my bed, sort the ridiculous amount of mismatched socks, and clear the table after dinner. They are seven (almost) and four, but they already get that we do a lot between working to pay for all these things they enjoy and making the time for them to get involved in the things they enjoy, but they also know it's not a them take everything and give nothing in return.

My parents did this for me and my sisters; they were extremely dedicated to my sisters and mine interests. I don't recall us having to help out around the house the way I make my girls until we were a bit older when my mom went back to work when I was entering middle school, but again they were working full time and giving up their evenings and later weekends to be there for us and our activities. I still remember them having their own things. My father when he wasn't coaching twenty four adolescent girls two nights a week and every weekend from late March until the end of July, he was out in the driveway taking turns catching all three of us. Yet he still had time for his big loves, golf, hunting, and playing cards. My mom who ran the management end of those two teams for a decade on top of working full time and being the primary caretaker of the home (it took Dad awhile to get past the old way of thinking about gender roles in the house ;)  ) still loved to read her books and sew though I don't remember her sewing as much as we got older.

Just like with this past week I still managed to get in reading the first few chapters of a book I started, I started working on our next family photo album, and got in a little TV watching with my husband, which is his primary choice of unwind time, and I'm sure I still spent too much time conversing on facebook. When we're not out and about with our kids and are at home I don't feel the need to entertain or engage my kids. They will go outside and entertain themselves for hours with honestly me hearing very little from them or they will go downstairs and play pretend with their barbies, dolls, or animals. Sometimes they watch movies; on a lazy weekend day maybe most of the day if they feel like it! Or they'll play games on their tablets. Again for an uncensored amount of time because again I'm confident my kids are not lazy in the way they enjoy and thrive on being so involved and busy and in the way the pitch in around the house so if the kid wants to play on her tablet or watch TV all afternoon I'm pretty confident she's not suddenly going to turn into a lazy, entitled brat.

God knows there are plenty of articles and memes out there claiming we're raising self centered entitled kids these days, but there are self centered, entitled people in every generation. But there's a generation of hard working, dedicated parents right now raising well rounded, involved, independent kids with gratitude. I think the ones that have this figured out haven't fully sacrificed themselves or their kids. They've realized the little sacrifices here and there that need to be made in order to find the balance. We can support our kids in their love and interests without fully sacrificing ourselves. Are we going to be busy? Yes, crazy busy! But I look at my friends in the parenting trenches with me right now, and no we're not perfect and we make mistakes and learn as we go, but I know we're committed to our kids and the interests they choose to pursue. Yes, that will take a lot of dedication on our part to fully support them, but as kids that were raised this way ourselves by parents dedicated as we intend to be, we are now capable adults ready to balance our needs with our kids to raise the next generation of independent, successful, gracious kids.

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