This blog is the third in a series about the so-called collapse of parenting. First, my colleague did a great job summing up what most parenting experts do agree on, and last week I wrote about the parent-child relationship.
I’m in the thick of it right now. My kids are little and I’m dealing with the very tantrums the “experts” are debating. I don’t know whether there is a true collapse of parenting, but I will say this: many parents today, including myself, are stressed and exhausted. Many are working full-time and are struggling with running a house, functioning at work and caring for their children.
We are bombarded with parenting advice that is conflicting, confusing and often incomplete. When our children are babies we are told to not leave them crying, and rightly so, as responding to an infant’s cries is how you show your baby they can trust you. Then your adorable infant turns into an assertive toddler who cries every time he hears “no”. It can be uncomfortable and unsettling to let your child cry, and it might make you wonder if you’re doing the right thing.
We see headlines that read, “Give toddlers choices” and “Don’t punish your kids,” but run out of time to read them. It’s hard to sift through all the advice and figure out how you want to parent when you’re exhausted and overwhelmed – when you’re just trying to survive.
There’s pressure, pressure, pressure, every day. You have about two hours with your child after work before they go to bed, but it’s filled with trivial and not-so-trivial stress: getting dinner on the table, worrying about money and dealing with misbehaviour. You’re exhausted from your long day at work, so instead of setting clear rules and sticking to them, you find yourself giving in, just to keep the peace. You think, I don’t have the patience for a tantrum tonight. Sure, I’ll make you a grilled cheese even though I worked hard to have a home-cooked meal on a weeknight. When its bedtime your child master-negotiates their way to book after book because it’s easier to give in than deal with the tears. Before you’ve had a chance to think about family rules and really parenting proactively, your child seems to have the power in the family. Granted, parenting experts do talk a lot about preventing tantrums and other misbehaviours but giving in is not what they mean.
How do we go forward from here? The first step is recognizing that we, as parents, are not perfect. The next step is coming up with a plan. I’ve started blocking some weekends “off” – saying no to getting together with family and friends, just to give my family time to reconnect after a busy week and recharge for the week coming up. It gives my husband and I time as a couple to share parenting views and work out parenting issues. I’ve been reading a couple of great books that helped get us started: Barbara Coloroso’s “Kids are worth it” and Mary Sheedy Kurcinka’s “Raising your Spirited Child”. Check them out if you are looking for some guidance with your own parenting.
I’m incredibly lucky and thankful that I’m surrounded at work by some amazing parenting experts and that I learn this stuff at work and not just “on the job” at home. Applying theory into practice is always a challenge but I am able to ask for parenting advice, and you can too. If you live in Halton Region, HaltonParents is here to support you on this crazy journey and to help you be the parent you want to be. Connect with us:
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For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.