The real problem with today’s parents

You know, I was going to take a break from the parenting posts to let them space out a bit. Parenting is all I’ve been writing about for the last 5 months, so, I thought, let’s withdraw from the subject a bit. But, after reading a couple of articles about what’s wrong with “today’s parents”, I decided I needed to throw my two cents into the pot.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: today’s parents coddle their children. Today’s parents spend too much time on their cell phones, and not enough time playing with their kids. Today’s parents let their kids watch too much TV. Back in my day, we did X, Y, Z, and we were fine. Today’s parents don’t let their kids play outdoors anymore. Today’s parents don’t teach their children to be respectful, kind, generous. Today’s parents suck, essentially, and the generation before was better for 939573 reasons. The list goes on forever.

Everyone seems to have an opinion about the state of our children and the way they’re being parented.

A two-minute walk from my house is a playground with a sign listing all the rules a child must follow in order to play there. One of those rules is that children under 12 years of age must be accompanied by an adult, and at the bottom of the sign, the phone number for the RCMP is listed.  What this is saying to me is that, when my daughter is ten years old, I could have the police called on me for trusting her to go to the park, which is just 5 houses down, by herself. I could be prosecuted. Worst case scenario, they take my child away from me, or try to. When I was a child, I would walk down the road to the store by myself on the daily. I imagine this started somewhere between the age of 8-10.

What I’m getting at is that parenting has become everyone’s business, and people who disagree with your methods will have no trouble telling you, telling on you, or finding ways to undermine you. Helping? Nah–that’s for people whose methods we agree with. We live in a time that parents are constantly vilified. No parent can do anything right–everyone is watching. Passing judgment is as simple as looking at a picture on Facebook. The worst part is: we do it to each other! On Tumblr, I caught myself looking at a note a parent left their child and scoffing “I hate when people refer to things like this as a parenting win”. The truth is, I didn’t know the circumstances. And yet, I, like so many others, was quick to assume the parent was in the wrong based on a simple photograph.

We judge parents for letting their kids play with tablets. We judge parents who choose to look at their cell phones while their kids are at the playground. We judge parents for choosing, for whatever reason, not to breastfeed, or how long they breastfeed. We judge parents on their decision whether or not to cloth diaper, how to get their babies to sleep at night, the forms of discipline they use, whether or not to give allowance, gift-giving over the holidays, attachment parenting, co-sleeping. Every single thing has become a discussion on why one method is better than the other and how one method will make your child entitled, dependent, unhealthy, depressed, socially awkward, withdrawn… the list goes on.

There is no magical perfect formula for parenting. Your child will not be perfect, no matter what. Every parent chooses the method that works bet for him or her–that’s so important, because parenting is hard enough without having to fit into someone else’s idea of what you should do. We’re obsessed with trying to be the parents who love their kids more than the next person, but I don’t think it’s entirely our fault. Our society currently revolves around that.

If you look, you will find something wrong with parenting in every era. Every single one. I know that may be hard to believe when looking through those tricky nostalgia goggles. Lots of things are wrong with the “old-fashioned” way of parenting–as though there can be a single old-fashioned way of parenting–and, try though you may, you will never find an era that had it 100% right. Regardless, I notice the myths being busted daily. That park up the road is always filled with kids playing on a sunny day, with their parents looking on from afar. No, they don’t all have cell phones in their hands–and even if they do, so what?

So, what’s the solution? Well, that’s hard to say. As long as people exist, so will their opinions. I think the important thing to do is to approach parenting from a place of equality, rather than superiority. While I may think I know better than the person I’m judging, maybe I could learn something from her instead. But, that’s just my opinion. As we’ve already addressed, opinions are a dime a dozen in this field of discussion.

The real problem with today’s parents is the fact that no one seems willing to give them a chance–some people are too caught up in the past to realize that the present has merits. The real problem with today’s parents is that they aren’t allowed to talk about their struggles without someone telling them to “be grateful” or to “enjoy it while it lasts”. The real problem with today’s parents is that no one seems to want to throw them a bone and offer help instead of judgment, and everyone else seems to know better than they do.

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1 Comment

  1. Well put. If this soapbox becomes too small i’ll see what i can do about arranging a bigger one. Perhaps your dad knows of a stage we could borrow lol!

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