Perfectly planned parenthood?
More and more of us millennials seem to be driven by fear and perfectionism when parenting their kids. We want everything to be perfect and God forbid nothing shall ever happen to our child. Thanks to modern media we know how pretty a perfect family life should look like and we know all the terrible disasters that could happen to a child. We have learned to structure things and to organize and all these great new technological inventions help us to control life. So we start planning…
… the conception: What is the perfect timing for summer birthday parties? What exact date should we have sex, so we are more likely to have a boy or a girl? (I really found an article on a parenting page about this once). Should we freeze our ovaries until later to have a perfect career first?
… the perfect modus of the birth (Water birth, no pain, C-section for perfect timing?)
… professional design for the nursery (Just google these beautiful pictures!)
… which baby classes to take (Music, massage or swimming for babies?)
… the perfect birthday parties (All these great ideas online and all the other parents organize so beautiful parties. Let’s not fall behind.)
… the perfect first sleepover
… which college the child will attend (of course only the best!)
… what retirement plan to set up for the child
… what to write on the coffin when it gets old and … oh wait, maybe we don’t plan that! At least not yet.
Well, I guess I made my point. You know what I mean.
So we put in more and more effort to proceed the plans, to keep control over everything. Sooner or later it becomes more and more difficult to keep control and to reach our perfect goals. We expect ourselves to be perfect parents and to raise perfect kids. And so parenting gets more and more stressful, more and more a burden, an endless list with things to do and how to be.
And all this because:
Life happens! And that is not a disaster, that is the perfectly beautiful part about life.
Life is so much more than our plans, our TV Shows and beautiful Instagram pictures. Life is real. Life is emotions. Life is different. Life smells good or stinks, Life is black and white and also all the other colors in the world. Life makes you get out of breath and freeze and sweat. Life is full of surprises and adventures (unless you plan an adventure – than sometimes it even could be boring). Life is live.
Whatever plans and dreams we may have had for our family and our children, there comes a time they just make puff and away they go in a cloud of smoke. We can be depressed about that. We can try even harder to gain control again. But at some point we should learn to let go. We have to grow up! Accept that we cannot control everything. Life is Life. And that’s not only ok, not just acceptable. That it is the beauty about it. And as soon as we learn and accept that, we can appreciate life and family life and be really good parents.
So many questions…
If perfect planning and control isn’t the solution for good parenting, how can we be good parents without loosing our minds? How can we give our children everything they need to grow? What do children need so they can grow into healthy, resilient, strong, creative, intelligent and socially competent adults? How can we give them a childhood full of love and with experiences that give them strength for their whole lives? How can we help them to grow up to their potentials?
All this parenting advice.
More and more parenting books, magazines, web pages, blogs etc. give us unlimited answers to every thinkable (and often even unthinkable) situation.
Tiny problems are being blown up into critical points in the lives of our children and we get lots of advice on how to behave as a competent parent. Much of this advice even includes poorly displayed methods professional therapists and counselors use.
And then those articles like to scare. What happens if you do not reflect a child’s feelings, when it throws a tantrum, because it doesn’t want to leave the play ground? All those ways you could damage your child if just tell them no and leave with them the playground. Instead – they tell us – we have to sit down, hug the kid and say a couple times that we can understand those big and scary “feelings”. (I am not kidding. I just read an article about that half an hour ago. My husband and I laughed tears.)
Those articles give young parents the impression that there is so much they need to know in order to be good parents and so many ways they could damage their kids if they don’t act according to those instructions. All this parenting advice can make young parents feel overwhelmed and insecure. It makes parenting seem extremely complicated. It puts lots of pressure on parents. It makes parents, who do not read tons of advice and don’t worry about extremely unlikely dangers appear irresponsible. Off course it does, because there is so much money to make with the fear of parents. All those things we are supposed to buy, because if we don’t something terrible might happen to your child. Our children might be psychologically damaged or – God forbid – developmentally or educationally behind!
I am a mother of two. Seeing all this more or less professional parenting advice that is out there made me wonder: Since when do parents need a professional psychology, education or social work degree to be good parents? I myself happen to be a professional social worker with an 4 year social work degree. I majored in youth and family services. So I did take family and youth counseling classes as well as psychology and child development classes and I do have many years of professional work experience. My professional knowledge certainly helps me with my parenting, but it is not what makes me a good mom.
I started this blog in order to help take away the pressure that is put on young moms and dads. I want to encourage parents to start trusting their instincts again and give some useful little tips and ideas for every day live. As a professional as well as being a mom myself I believe there are some basics about healthy child development that are helpful to know. There also are tips and tricks which can come in handy in stressful times. I know that there are situations in which communication skills like active listening can be very useful. However not every little tantrum of our toddler needs a therapy session and unsupervised playtime is not the same as child neglect! Trust me, I have worked with truly neglected children and that is something completely different.
Because of my work I also have quite some experience with making communities child friendly. So I am planning on giving some inspiration and ideas on this blog on how towns and cities could be made child friendly.
I hope you enjoy reading this blog and I am looking forward to your questions and ideas.