I shared a photo on the Between Us Parents Facebook page a few weeks ago that detailed the different approaches to parenting in 2017 to pretty much every generation prior to ours. It's this photo below, which I first saw on the Grown & Flown Facebook page:
And it's funny. Really funny.
Parents of today have taken a few things a bit too far. Or a lot of things a lot too far. And laughing at that is healthy and also makes a point.
I get that and I appreciate it. But I've continued to think about it periodically and I was wondering why I kept coming back to it, often raising objections in my head, including:
- Not all parents take things to such extremes.
- The vast majority of parents I know aren't helicopters or lawnmowers or whatever the label du jour happens to be.
- Parents of today know more about their child's health than prior generations did thanks to some amazing science and some positive changes in society. Some kids do have allergies/sensitivies/issues and tending to them gives them and their families a better quality of life.
Most of all, I'm left wondering where the middle ground has gone, or rather, why don't we want to acknowledge it. Most parents I know don't seem to take extreme approaches in parenting and are just doing the best they can.
I don't want to raise my kid in the manner described above under "2017 parents," but I also don't think that solely feeding our kids sometimes is sufficient. There's a wide space between those two and that's space that doesn't really get honored.
Moderation isn't often a headline-making approach. And I get that humor often comes easier when working in black and white comparisons, not the gray areas. But I am a gray area mom. (And by no means do I intend to create yet another unnecessary label for my fellow parents.)
Here's what gray area parenting looks like to me:
Kids are not pets, they're people.
They are people who are growing, in every single sense of the word. Sometimes that growth requires information, guidance, attention, limits, or a combination of all of those or something completely different from people with more wisdom and life experience who love that child.
We do not need to cater to our child's every whim, but paying attention to their physical and mental health is important. Frankly, I think it's one of the most important jobs of a parent.
We need to raise our kids to be resilient and responsible. Sometimes, a little parental encouragement can help them not only see what that looks like but help them achieve those goals.
There are a lot of facets to our children's lives. We don't need to micromanage any of them, and in fact doing so is both unhealthy and freaking exhausting. But encouraging our kids to tend to each of those areas isn't bad and in fact can help our kids develop into balanced individuals.
I've written previously about the importance of knowing your mandate as a parent. For different people, that means different things. And it changes based on child and the individual child's developmental progress. A parenting mandate is never fixed, but it doesn't ever mean meeting every single one of your child's needs every single time.
I'd also like to think that there's also room for compassion for parents who, for whatever reason, are parenting and prioritizing differently than we are at any given point.
We need to dial back the rhetoric around raising kids, and that's the message in this picture that I support whole heartedly.
But if you really like coconut oil, live in a two-story home and are working to be gentle but not overly permissive, I'm not out to judge you. I have a feeling you're in the gray area most of the time, too, and there's a lot of good company in that gray space.
Prior Post: 7 emotions parents of teens experience daily
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