I am a mother of two, a wife, a social worker and I have been the youth welfare planner and in charge of the family and child friendliness of the city I live at for more than a decade now. One of the projects I have been working on for many years is to put the program child friendly cities from UNICEF in action in my town. And we were successful with that, because the city has received the label “child friendly city” twice now.
I am from Germany and I live and work in Bavaria. However, I also lived for two years in the US and I still have strong connections to people there. That is why, I had the opportunity to get to know different parenting and even social work styles in Germany and the US. With great interest I have been following parenting and education debates in the US and in Germany. I also happen to have dear friends from many other countries like Italy, Portugal, and now even China and I have worked with families from various cultures. Learning about other societies and cultures` views on parenting is very interesting. It puts things into perspective. Things that people in one country might view as too dangerous or really good, may be viewed by other cultures completely different. On the other hand, I have the impressions, that in all the modern societies that I know, there is one social problem that is growing more and more: The fear that something terrible could happen to our child and the assumption that parents have to become more and more overprotective. No matter how unlikely the danger might be – more and more people expect parents and teachers to control and monitor their children 100%, always and everywhere. Even if the danger was only, that the child – God forbid – might not be as good in class as others, it still feels like a serious threat and the parents would be responsible for such failure, too. Young parents in our days are being put under so much pressure and I don’t really see what good this is supposed to do.
There is a whole industry about parenting: magazines, books, TV-Shows, webpages, special supplies young moms and dads are supposed to buy… Seeing all this more or less professional parenting advice in the media 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 a 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 also feel the pressure with all these expectations weighing heavy on me. However I am so lucky to have people in my live who encourage me and give me confidence and good advice when I need it – good teachers, experienced mothers and grandmothers, colleagues and friends. Hearing about their experiences – that’s what’s helping me, when I become insecure because of all these expectations of modern society.
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. 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 for me 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 – I believe – 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.)
With this blog I want to share some of my experience and to write down my point of view. I am not providing counseling services with this blog. However, if you are interested in booking me for consulting and training on how to create a child friendly city, feel free to contact me.
I understand, that everyone can have their own opinion and what’s right for me and my family does not have to be right for your family. I just hope, that some of my thoughts and ideas might be helpful to some families or simply just enjoyable to read.