princess_muffin: (Default)
[personal profile] princess_muffin
Submitted for consideration, from a friend's note on Facebook, Helicopter Parents and the Rising Counter Culture.

Parenting is perhaps the most sacred duty any human being can take upon themselves. When producing a new human life into this world or assuming full responsibility for one, the stakes are about as high as they can get. Yet at times the thought of entering the parental arena fills me with dread and disgust, for the very reasons this article quotes.

How did you, gentle reader, develop your parenting or child-supervising skills? Did your own experiences growing up, color your thoughts on this topic as an adult? What shaped your opinions on right and wrong parenting decisions; books, the media, other parents, your own parents? Do you have children of your own? Are you (like me) playing a key caring-adult role in a child's life with occasional parent-like authorities and privileges?

Also, for my teacher friends out there: How would you rate the spectrum of coping, problem solving, personal safety, socializing, and academic skills found in kids these days? Is over parenting a true plague as the media makes it out to be?

Date: 2009-11-30 12:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I sent this to my brother the teacher a few days ago!

Date: 2009-11-30 01:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
LOL! I came across this and have been meaning to post it to my childfree filter. I love the picture of the mom wrapping her kid in plastic wrap!

I have barely passable parenting skills, if you can even call them that. I'm the youngest in my family, never had to take care of younger siblings or had young kids in the neighborhood to babysit etc.

I feel like I will spend the rest of my life repairing the damage from my own upbringing, let alone have any room left to parent someone else... If I ever were to change my mind I would probably adopt an unwanted child. There are enough of us in the world without creating more.

I am more comfortable with kids I know, like my nieces, and prefer kids who can at least talk or interact with me a bit.

As a teacher, I'm getting the hang of things. I also have older students, but have had a few "millennial moments..." Thankfully I have not dealt with any crazy parents yet, but I'm always worried in the back of my head that I might get sued or something. When I switched insurance companies my agent offered me an extra rider for my policy. At the time I wasn't grading but now that I am I'm considering taking him up on it...

Date: 2009-11-30 01:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
P.S. If you haven't seen the episode of the Simpsons with Homer as a helicopter parent, I recommend it. :)

Date: 2009-11-30 03:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm just making this up as I go along.

As of 2 months the baby is cheerful and smiles a lot. I guess we're doing okay.

The over-parenting thing really pisses me off. I am resolved not to do this.

Judging from the UCSC students I've run into, overparenting isn't a major plague upon the land or anything, but I have met some serious cases of assumed entitlement. (At WPI, too, although it seems more prevalent in California.)

Date: 2009-11-30 01:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Well...I have a ton of opinions (and experience, I feel justified in saying.)

The best advice I ever got was to follow my gut instinct about what my kid needs and what is right for my family, and that it won't look like what anyone else does. I have read some books that went way counter to my instincts and I quickly ignored them. My parenting philosophy is based on respect for both parent and child, seeking solutions that honor the needs of everyone in the family, and trying to maintain the integrity of all involved when there is conflict.

I skimmed the article. I half agree, or rather I agree with half of the idea. I think we do have a culture of overparenting in many areas. And I think we also have a culture of underparenting in other areas.

There is definitely a trend in the media to make parents feel their parenting is inadequate. I believe a large portion of this is marketing-driven...make parents feel they are falling short, and they will gobble up things like books on how to be a better parent, classes (run by "experts") for their tot, fancy preschools, "educational" toys, baby-care gadgets, etc. It is no secret that parental anxiety funds big business.

I don't think I can put my thoughts all into a single LJ post. But I do think that my parenting probably comes across as a contradiction to some people. On one hand, I believe in sheltering kids to an extent while they are young. I believe attachment parenting is a valuable approach to babies and little kids. I nursed my kids longer than most people do, I carried them around when they needed it (which was a lot), we coslept (the younger ones still sometimes crawl in bed with us), we limit/filter their exposure to media, we choose friends based on shared values. We homeschool, which effectively means we oversee their learning, activities, and social interactions in a way we would relinquish if they went to school. Those are just a few examples.

I also believe that kids need close support as they develop socially - not that I micromanage their social interactions, but that I should be nearby, keeping tabs on how things are going, available to offer support/coaching/modeling if they run into conflict (because contrary to popular belief, I do not believe kids are innately equipped to "work it out" when there is conflict in a peer group without modeling from more experienced people. So all those things might be perceived from the outside as overparenting, but I think that is a misunderstanding. I support my kids in the ways they need so that they can become grounded, confident, and independent as they are ready. So far that has indeed been the case with my kids.

Date: 2009-11-30 01:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
(continued because I have way too much to say)

On the other hand, I agree with the Free-Range mom about letting kids just "be." I believe kids need lots of down time for creative play and the emotional freedom to interpret their play themselves. I like to get out of the way and not tell them what to play or how to play (and I try hard to stave off marketing and media influences that seek to dictate these things for them.) And physically, I think they need to move when their bodies say move, be still when their bodies say be still, eat when they are hungry, rest when they are tired, be alone when they need it, etc, so they become adept at recognizing their body's needs and seeking to get them met appropriately. I think overscheduling kids can interfere with this process in a significant way.

If we feel overwhelmed, we cut back on activities and spend more time at home. If we feel understimulated, we head out for adventure. I still think it's appropriate for parents to play a significant role in kids' lives for many years, but part of that is stepping back and letting them know you trust them to learn manage their needs well, and that you expect them to come for support if they need it. In our house this also extends to learning - we follow their interests, and if I see a gap that I think needs filling, I try to do it in a way that appeals rather than imposes, so they are invested in their learning.

I am not editing this post much - I have a busy morning - but those are some thoughts, not meant to offend anyone who feels differently, just meant to give you a glimpse of how I think and feel.

Mostly we have just made it up as we went along. It's worked so far. (I couldn't fathom parenting a newborn until I had one, same for a two year old, or a six year old, or (gulp) an 11 year old...) Mine are now 11, 10, 7, and 5, and the feedback I get about them from other people is consistently positive. They are happy, well-adjusted kids. And S and I are happy parents. So something must be working. HTH...

Date: 2009-11-30 01:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
One more thing. The article talks about risk and accidents and protecting kids and so forth. I think it is vitally important to help our kids learn to trust that they can take reasonable risks and they will recover even if the worst thing happens in those scenarios. I also think it's really essential to help them distinguish between risks that are appropriate to take - and how to identify and weigh the consequences for yourself, or get help figuring that out if you need it - and risks that carry unacceptable risk.

My mom's default was that every risk was unacceptable, and this turned me into an anxious kid who was afraid to make any choice for fear of some unknown terrible consequence. So that is where I am coming from here. If I look overprotective from the outside, it's because I know my kid hasn't learned to make good judgments about that particular thing on their own (for example, I NEVER EVER EVER took the boys to the beach when they were little - I know my kids, they would be off in opposite directions in a flash, and completely unmanageably unsafe.)

On the other hand, if I look underprotective, it's because I know my kid and I know they are capable of making good decisions in that situation (for example, my very tiny 14-month-old was capable of climbing the playground equipment. All of it. And I felt that hovering too close would tell him I didn't trust his ability to climb confidently, when I did. So I held back, and I cannot tell you how many other moms swooped in to "save" him and glare at me...grr!! I know my kid, and he was capable, and needed space to prove it to himself.)

Sometimes I probably look like I'm way hovering when I cajole my 11 year old into eating. What you don't see is that he has hypoglycemia and still has a hard time reading his body's need for food, and that if he doesn't eat the right kind of food at the right times, he crashes (= lashes out violently and/or collapses in tears). I'm helping him learn how to manage this, but it's still something he's working on, and he needs my support.

It probably looks like I'm underparenting when I say that I'm okay with my kids not doing academic work until they are ready. "Ready" means my oldest only just got to that point. But I am totally in touch with their learning levels and styles, and I'm managing their learning as needed to make sure they have the skills and experience to keep up with their peers.

I think it's inappropriate to make snap judgments about people's parenting because there is always more under the surface than you can see. Which is why I really dislike these "good parent/bad parent" articles. If in your gut you know you are tuned into and meeting your child's needs (and balancing that with your own), you're a good parent, and that inner knowledge is way more valuable than comparing yourself to someone else's ideas in an article.

Date: 2009-11-30 04:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
As a child I had many ideas of what I wanted to do as a parent someday. Now that I am a parent I have another perspective, but the core decisions I made so long ago remain the same.

A child's needs are relatively simple: love, respect and experiences. As a parent, it's my job to help my child find these in ways that are safe and rewarding. How I do that will change as my child grows, but that core focus remains the same.

Perhaps the hardest part for me is separating what I want from what I want for my child. There's a lot of hyperbole and fear-mongering out there. Using the free range kid example, I wouldn't want my 10 year old alone in the city because I'd want to keep her safe. But I do want my child to grow into a capable, confident adult. So that means if she's ready to go solo into the city at 10, that I'll have to sit at home and bite my nails for a few hours while she grows stronger and smarter all by herself.

There aren't a lot of books that I'd rely on. "The Baby Book" by Doctors Sears is a wealth of information and suggestions, but always falls back to the central position that each baby is their own person and you have to find what works for her. I haven't found any books on older children that I trust. I do listen to the wisdom of other parents and caretakers, with a grain of salt. Some have given me good tips or perspectives. Others I look at wondering if they're joking.

In the end though, I can't give my responsibility to any book or parent. I have to make the choices that will shape my child's experience and help determine how she will live her life. It is an incredible responsibility and honor. And I hope to be worthy of it.


princess_muffin: (Default)

February 2012

1213141516 1718

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 24th, 2017 03:39 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios