Are you parenting from a position of strength? Or, are you approaching the rearing of your children from a place of guilt and fear?
Let me explain. We are living in a time where “intensive parenting” is the norm – curated play time, a myriad of extracurricular activities, the “best” daycares and schools, and much more. It can also be described as “helicopter” parenting or “hands-on” parenting.” Research shows that this style of parenting – which was once the hallmark of the middle-class – now spans all socioeconomic classes. Parents are always trying to find a way to ensure their kids have the “best” of everything, which will lead to their inevitable success in life. However, the research also shows that a family’s wealth (and not a child’s ability) is the biggest predictor of a child’s future success.
What happens next is that parents, and especially mothers, are extremely hard on themselves. It’s something I am constantly battling against in my own thoughts. Online groups and message boards are filled with discussions of mothers wondering if they are making the right choice regarding their children about any and everything – starting in infancy. Co-sleeping or crib? Baby-lead weaning or spoon feeding? Daycare or nanny? Public school or private school? There are advice books on much of the same.
We seem to be on a constant search for the “thing” that will push our children ahead of the pack, even though there is no guarantee that any of these decisions will lead to any particular destination. As a result, we never feel as if we are doing enough.
From my own life and observations, this is where the fear and guilt come in.
Just recently, my family entered the D.C. School Lottery. We matched at a public school about a mile from our home and our son started Pre-K3. Immediately, the worries of whether this was the right choice flooded my brain. It was unconscious.
Is this the “best” school?
Will he have a “good” teacher?
Will he learn “enough?”
If he has a so-so experience, will he fall behind in life?
This occurred even though I already knew everything about the school, and knew it would be great for my kid (and it has been).
This occurred even though both my husband (DCPS grad!) and I are products of “inner-city” school systems with the typical “inner-city problems.”
And, of course, I had to come to terms with the fact that my kid is privileged – I’m a lawyer, his Dad has a Masters in IT and we can essentially get or give him anything he needs.
I decided to drop the irrational guilt and fear and adopt a position of strength. It’s a constant work in progress though, and something I consciously choose to do.
As I’ve written previously on this site, we are always enough for our kids. The fact that we even toy with the idea that something might not be good enough for our children is proof of this. But instead of viewing the decision-making process in parenthood as a way to fail (and by extension our child), we should remember that the guilt gets us nowhere and the kids will be alright.