I recently read this blog on Huffington Post about the quality of today's parenting versus the parenting of yesteryear.
It was an interesting opinion and since I'm a child of yesteryear parenting it caused me pause for thought.
There are some very valid arguments for the brand and style of nurturing done by previous generations. We did learn independence, delayed gratification, problem solving skills and all the other attributes the author mentioned.
The problem was most of us had no choice in the matter. It was a knee-jerk reaction to selfish, self-centered and negligent parents. Yes, we did learn to stand up for ourselves, defend our younger siblings, work without supervision and get the job done right the first time or...
all hell broke loose!
We did learn to self-monitor, use common sense and be independent because we knew our parents didn't want to be bothered by our trivial problems like; being bullied, unjust treatment by a teacher or a difficult school project. We learned fast that their response would go something like this...
- You think you have problems; just wait until you're an adult.
- Go away, I'm busy. (often having coffee and gossiping with friends)
- I work 40 hours a week and you expect me to do your work for you? You ungrateful little brat! Quit being so lazy!
- It'll toughen you up.
That it did, too. We are a generation of tough nuts who learned to hide our deepest fears, our biggest insecurities and constant anxieties though drugs, alcohol, gambling or promiscuity.
We knew we were to be "seen and not heard". Our opinions were worthless and we were darned "lucky to have a roof over our heads and food in our bellies".
Most of us felt unloved, unimportant and as worthless has we were treated but, eh...
we definitely did acquire those previously mentioned traits.
At a cost.
But what about today's parenting skills. Well sadly, I've witnessed far too many of the molly-coddling techniques used on kids nowadays. Not good. Children do need to learn all those qualities prior generations exhibited but, not by default due to derelict parents.
Molly-coddling, helicopter parenting and the like are probably just as damaging has the lax and sloppy parenting of yesteryear.
How about a middle ground where thoughtful and insightful parents base their actions on lovingly saying no when it's necessary, teaching a work ethic and learning to wait and earn what you desire?
How about letting your child make mistakes and not always be rewarded just for showing up but, still be supportive and encouraging for next time?
How about thoughtfully teaching we can't always be good at everything we try or always win but, to still give it your best and most capable try?
How about explaining that the world can be tough and that they will encounter mean people but, yet demonstrate through example the emotional fortitude to withstand these traumas?
High quality, effective and loving parenting really is possible. I've seen it. Parents can teach and illustrate all the positive qualities like self-reliance, independence, patience and strength of character to their children; while retaining their own identity and life.
It doesn't have to be either/or.
But excellence in parenting is like anything else; it takes effort, thoughtfulness, sacrifice.
Whether molly-coddling or neglecting our kids we really are truly opting for the easy way out. Both require little thought or effort. One simply ignores the child's needs and hopes for the best while the other caves at every opportunity just to keep the kid happy and the parent's guilt at bay.
Both ask little, give little, teach little...