Sometimes I think I read too much.
Ever since my babies were born, I’ve been devouring as many parenting articles as I can. Mainly because I like to read. But also because I really do believe knowledge is power.
And so, I read and read. About sleep tactics. Good books for kids. Fun games. Milestones. How to handle tantrums. And blogs on everything to do with the wonderful, tough, fulfilling and tiring world of being a parent. (These last ones I read mainly so I can furiously nod in agreement, while silently thanking the heavens above that I’m not the only one experiencing whatever stage or moment I’m stumbling through).
Most of the stuff I read, I like. I pick little nuggets of information here and there that I think works for me and leave the rest.
But lately I’ve been coming across articles and blogs with a bothersome over-arching theme. Apparently, my generation is ruining children.
Helicopter parenting. Co-sleeping. Soothers. iPads. Screen time. Our political correctness. Limiting sugar. Youth sports. Social media. Scheduling. Even playing with our children too much.
Yet, we don’t let our children play enough. We never let them outdoors. We watch them too closely. We don’t let them have fun. We stick them in front of video games. We give them iPads and phones to keep them quiet.
We’re being shamed – publicly – for failing at parenthood. Our children no longer have a carefree, outdoorsy childhood. The future is bleak.
Most of the time, I can just ignore it. I listen to what I want, take everything else with a grain of salt. But sometimes, I can’t. Because, sometimes I look at my daughters with their perfect little faces and see their incredible eyes staring up at me. My heart swells at just the sight of them. And I think to myself, “How could anyone ever think I’m ruining her?”
I, like most other parents in my generation, love my children more than anything. I want the best for them. I don’t want to take the easy way out. I don’t want them to be over protected or struggle when they’re grown.
I want them to learn how to do things for themselves. I want them to be confident. I want them to experience everything life has to offer – including disappointment. I want them to learn and love and thrive.
So if I choose to let them have a soother to get to sleep at night, or if I decide that it’s okay that my 18 month old knows how to work an iPad – please remember that I also choose to do many other things with them, too.
I take them camping. And swimming in lakes. We explore nature and pick up rocks and sticks and make beds out of grass and twigs for fairies. And other times, we watch TV. Lots of it. Because sometimes, that’s what we need.
I let them run free – but only as far as I can see them. Because they’re still in kindergarten, and I don’t choose to let them come home when the street lights come on at night. Not yet.
I have them in multiple activities – but that’s because they really want to do gymnastics and ballet and hockey and swimming. They also have lots of time to play independently. And they do. My daughters make forts together, play “family”, make up games, look at books together and so much more in their down time.
Sometimes I take them on long trips to experience other places. Or we go out for long dinners at restaurants. And sometimes, I let them play with my phone or a tablet because I just need a moment of peace. It’s not socially acceptable for children to be unruly – and sometimes, I just need to give myself a break.
My children – and many children growing up right now – are leading balanced lives, led by parents who adore them more than they ever imagined they could. It takes our breath away how amazing our children are. And other times, it’s really, really hard and we need a bit of reprieve.
But in the end, we love them. We do what we think is right. It may be different from ‘back in the day’, but that doesn’t mean it’s disastrous.
I’ll be the first to admit that some of us will go overboard at times. And I realize that we may not have it all figured out yet. But we’re trying. We’re trying our very best.
And for that reason alone, I’m pretty confident that our children won’t be ruined.
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