Monday, March 20, 2017

Parenthood: Week 196 - Parents These Days

People like to criticize "parents these days." Now that I’m one of these parents, I’m started to find these comments more . . . annoying.

Every generation looks to younger generations of parents with a critical eye. The criticisms I often hear about my generation of parents is that we over-scheduled our kids, we are too permissive, we don’t teach our kids how to clean up, and we give them too many drugs, or too few. That’s just a sampling.

I’m more exposed to these comments because I am a teacher. I feel lucky to teach with an optimistic group of teachers, but concerns about how kids change do come up and within these concerns, the factor of parenting often come up. Even though the faculty at my school expressed these concerns politely, there is sometimes an undertone of “parents these days.”

I pay attention to articles that come out about parenting as part of what I do to stay current on my practice as a teacher. When you are a teacher, random people you meet like to tell you about the problem with parents or sometimes try to get you to tell them about problems with parents. Usually I respond telling them how much I enjoy working with the parents of my students, which I do for the vast majority of the time, and the person asking looks disappointed.

My generation of parents does not have it all figured out. I am sure there are things that we are doing that will be found to not be the best for our kids. I know this for a fact because, there are things that parents from generations before me did, that were insane! Yes, there should be a trajectory of better parenting as time goes by, but this upward trend will have little valleys. That’s fine. It’s okay for parents to make missteps, as long as they are not grossly inappropriate or put their child’s health at risk.

Before you judge too hard on “parents these days,” don’t forget about parental amnesia. It’s the thing that makes you forget what it’s actually like to work a full time job and come home to a cranky kid, attempt to cook dinner and then spend three hours trying to put your baby to bed.

Almost all of  the complaints I hear about parents, look different from another perspective. A child who is over-scheduled may have a parent who really cares about that kid having diverse life experiences. A parents who seems to be too permissive, may actually be working very hard to help their child self-regulate and what you see is actually progress. A kid who doesn’t clean up well, isn’t always because parents aren’t trying to teach these skills (trust me) and medicating a kid is a really challenging thing to do. First off, in my tens years of teaching, I can't only remember two cases where a kid was overmedicated.  Second, wouldn’t you be careful, about giving your child drugs that affect their brain chemistry? In some ways, isn’t this a sign of love?

If you actually want to help us out, judge less, and listen more.  Parents these days could use a break, just like you so desperately needed once upon a time, when you had a little one and felt like you had no idea what you were doing.

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