By: Lianne Castelino www.whereparentstalk.com
When you sit back and reflect, it really is amazing. IT is truly incredible how much we do for our children, these days.
There are of course the staples: shuttling to and from school, activities, playdates, field trips, camp, sports events and the like. That infamous “drop-off and pick-up” equates to more than a full-time job in some families. Then there's the incessant monitoring of all of the previously-mentioned activities – maintaing positive relationships with all teachers, coaches, and persons of authority to ensure a productive, responsible citizen is being moulded.
Oh yes, how could I forget -there's the time spent researching, analyzing and registering them for those activities, the overseeing of homework, the monitoring of social media and electronics. The list makes me tired.
I often wonder if the “parenting strategy” of today is designed to yield responsible, accountable, independent children. How can it when we are constantly surveying the situation.
Isn't parenting about teaching and guiding? Downright intervention on a consistent basis seems so invasive and counter-productive.
I've often done little experiments on my children to test out the theory. It's simple. Do a task with them. Then have them do the same task themselves. As long as a parent/adult figure is present, the child really doesn't need to lift a finger or work a brain cell. They, usually, automatically default to have the adult make the decisions. It is an extremely telling test if you try it.
As parents, and with the help of the media, we have (for the most part) decided our kids cannot play by themselves in the backyard or on the street because there may be strange people lurking in the bushes. As one author put it – those types of situations haven't increased, but the reporting of them and the awareness of them have.
If much of what we choose to engage in as parents is predicated on or the result of fear or guilt, a great disservice is being done to our children.
I look back on my childhood and realize that my parents made different decisions in a different time and ended up raising two fiercely independent children. In that time, it wasn't customary to survey your child on a consistent basis. But we did plenty of things together. The rest of the time we spent figuring things out for ourselves. That built problem-solving skills, responsibility and accountability among other values.
For example, I don't ever recall my parents monitoring homework. It was assigned, we were responsible for doing it. End of story. I also don't remember them organizing a daily activity during summer holidays. We had access to a swimming pool and tennis court and friends in the neighbourhood. It was up to us to navigate the rest.
I wonder how this generation of kids will turn out? Will they be forward-thinking, responsible leaders of tomorrow? Or adults who are unsure of themselves, with tattered self-esteem because someone else has always been making decisions for them.
Most of all I wonder if our kids appreciate what we do for them.