Is Parenting “HARDER “ Now?
This is a question that has been presented to me several times in the past few months. Actually let me correct myself. It’s been given to me as a statement, and what’s surprising is who it’s come from. Namely my own grandmother, who had 4 children herself and health care professionals who see the impacts of parenting and issues in their fields. In my grandmas words..." being a parent these days is a lot harder now than it's ever been, and I've watched several generations grow up in this world."
I feel like the statement gets thrown around in probably every generation. And every generation has been criticised or judged by the former, on its own merits and apparent or no apparent values. It’s an either selfish, hardworking, self entitled, baby booming, lazy... whatever, generation.
No matter what they are labeled, ultimately the blame will really be placed on the parents of that generation. It’s all their fault! Those damn stupid parents! By now... surely, society should be producing perfect parents to raise perfect children to indeed create our prefect society and world.
And clearly... it seems we are all getting it wrong.
Now days the average modern woman works a minimum of 2 and a half full time jobs if she has children. Because now days, she is expected too. And I will include some males in there too. Although over half the average families in the western world alone, have one or both parents working more than one job to make ends meet. To meet rising inflation and cost of living, childcare and other essentials, things aren't easy for us all. Also throw in a pre conception of spending money we don't have because we are surrounded by consumer lifestyles more then what we're we're a few generations ago.
Busy lifestyles are also impacting the family. We are all needed in more places than one at any given time. Most schools expect a very high volume of attendance for children and their families. Being time poor is usually on most family lists of things they want to improve. But with work schedules, school schedules, extra curricular activities that children now "need" to do, social events and if any given chance, actual downtime family time together, it's near impossible. I personally find that I am busier than I was at home with the kids than what I was when I was working my 45 hour work week as a shop manager. With the amount the kids need to do and attend, it's a rare to actually have many free days to rest and play. And the younger children have to slot into the routine to suit. So as my grandmother put it, morning and afternoon naps that are peaceful and long are often a thing of the past.
Not only that, the biggest issue that faces the modern day parent is that dreaded word Judgement. It's everywhere and can not be escaped. You are judged for everything and anything you do and it's whether you do too much, or too little. It doesn't matter. With social media, it's all on display for the world. Most of the time our intention to show the world our lives is a GOOD intention. To connect with others. Showcase the highlights and proud moments. To involve your fellow community and create connections with likeminded people. Or to simply show that your life is like many others and they can relate to how you are going. No matter what there is sometimes the back lash of someone disagreeing with what your choices are or how you parent and a lot of the time we can handle it, BUT, it's now so common for news networks to pick up stories from social media and use them as news or discussion points on panels. Inflating the judgement on a national or sometimes international scale!
I guess this is where my grandmas anger comes from. I'll explain... she had just watched a panel discussion on the morning news where 3 people were discussing what a mother had done ( to be honest I can't recall exactly what her 'crime' was, but it wasn't that shocking.) Someone had taken a photo and before you knew it, it was national news. The next topic was on the refugee boat that had sank, killing a lot of people. What was crazy was that the mother story took precedents over the refugee one and they continued to go back to it. Also the family was now going through a trial by media, and also... WTF?
Not only now are parents expected to raise perfect humans, work full time, raise your kids as if your are home full time, create the perfect family homes, provide the most perfect education, be at every event, keep their marriage and relationships on point, use the child care system (but only enough to spend one entire pay packet a week in fees) but don't you over do it, have a healthy lifestyle, ladies... perfect bodies are a must 3 months after a baby, attend every dance recital, soccer matches and school concerts, make sure your child is in at least 2 extra curricular activities and have healthy home cooked meals on the table every single night.... yes this is written with a big dollop of sarcasm.
And you wonder why people drink more these days?
The pressure is now astounding! And really, the only real solution is to block it out as best you can. But that's not always easy to do. Mum/ Dad/ parent guilt is real!
AND when you look at the statistics of suicide and mental health issues with children and adolescents these days... the results are utterly terrifying!
There isn't any absolute solutions to these problems. As the world turns, these issues grow and grow and as a parent I feel helpless myself. But there are a few things that can be implemented as best you can to at least relieve some of the pressure. And it starts with us.
I am no expert on this... I'm just winging it like everyone else, but these are some things I try ( as hard I can) to implement into our lives.
•Look after yourself. You can give everything to your family when you have nothing left to give.
•Set the example. Lead the way on how you want your kids to be. Kind, honest, open... what rings true to your family values
•Unplug. We all need to do it. Put down the phones, turn off the devices and be with each other. Even if it's one night a week
•Be open. As hard as it can be, you want to protect your kids, be open with your emotions and let them see you. Talk with them about issues they ask about. It may be hard, but the communication and trust developed will be forever.
•Be kind and show love. My husband and I everyday make sure we all have a group hug and display our affection to each other. Our son used to find it funny but now he finds it so normal and over this year we have seen him so more affectionate towards his sisters and friends. It brings a positive awareness all all around. Like small things such as picking something up that someone has dropped or just saying hello to someone. It's the little bits of kindness every day that make a difference.
•Get your kids involved. Do something all together that benefits the community. That fundraiser or charity, the Christmas appeal drive, or donating goods to the less fortunate.
I would love to hear your thoughts on parenting! If you have any or some ideas , don't be shy, email firstname.lastname@example.org.