Thursday, November 19, 2009

Overparenting





disclaimer: please realize I write this as a journal entry. It is not polished by any means..none of my articles are--they are mostly first drafts..I simply want to put my thoughts down and share. Perhaps, one day, when I have a little more time, I can make them more polished..(or not)
This idea of "overparenting" is coming to my attention lately. Just read this article from Time Magazine. Interesting article. A little exaggerated, I think.. And not completely balanced...which I think makes it lose some of its credibility. And the term, "helicopter parent" is quite derogatory....it's another derogatory way of looking at another human being. It isn't necessarily helpful. This article is quite unforgiving in the supporting of this stereotpye.
but it makes some good points-which I will get into later...
All that being said, I am guilty of being protective..and I have definitely felt the cringe of anxiety at times when my kids climbed up high or took some risks. I also want my children to have the best in life..(whatever that means?) The best in life has actually changed in meaning for me as my children have grown...When they were babies, I bought into the idea that Baby Einstein Videos were good for my kids..and thought that toys that were designed to stimulate their minds and bodies were good for them...didn't realize more is not better.. thought Little People everything sets were great for their imagination(but never really liked noisy toys, at least). I don't buy into that anymore..I am still trying to purge some of that stuff...even this very week, have I sold some of the remnants of that stage of my parenting.. I had memberships (still have memberships to the zoo and omsi)..used to go there a lot. (some research shows that this is no better than going to the grocery store??) intersting. I'd like to look at that research.
The best of life now means something different. I don't think taking them to the zoo every week, is what will be best for my kids... I don't think protecting them from hardship..emotional or physical will make them the best people they can be.. As babies, I felt my heart overflow with wanting to give them happiness...and love.. I still wish this for them, but now I want more for them to find happiness in any situation even hard situations...I want them to be kind, generous, gentle, forgiving, loving, empowered, informed, thinking, spiritual, etc... and handing the world on a platter to them is not going to help them achieve this. I was tempted to homeschool them...wanting to protect them from the pain that could happen at public schools... but I think now, that some of that pain, they can pull themselves through and grow from..become better because of it..If I am there for them to talk them through it..try to guide them.. Homeschooling still seems wonderful to me and ideal in some ways, but I don't think sending children to public school is any less loving when done with "care"..
My children are also taking Suzuki Violin....We started out at the music center, but have now toned it down to a lesson every other week, and we practice 10 minutes 3x/week. Never felt good about pushing them into an intese musical regime yet..not unless they want it. It is one of the extra regimes I do wish to do with them, besides our monthly Baha'i class, and homework. I think it is character building. They work at it and see how practice brings results. But, I am not going to "push" them to being violionists.. But, it is something I wish to share with them..It is time we spend together..(so long as I also spend "unstructured" unevaluative time with them too.)
All this being said, I agree with quite a bit of what the article states. 1. Play..free play is very important. Leave the kids alone so they can do this! 2. Less is better. Simple is better. Don't overschedule. Quality of life is better-time together-priceless. 3. Mistakes are important-let them make mistakes.
Trips to our CSA Farm, have replaced many of our trips to OMSI or the zoo. And now that they are in school, I often just let them play. My son has plenty of "structured time" at 6 years old..I think.. First grade is quite focussed on academics. I am not aiming for have "gifted children"..or to be better than other kids...(another criticism I have of the article..seems to show such a slant assuming so many of these helicopter parents are pushing their kids to be "better" than others) I think that is a simplistic assumption..
And for the "hovering"..I agree with this too..protecting is important, but hovering and not letting our kids make their own discoveries..or mistakes robs them... Sometimes this is hard for ME to do, because I can't always determine the amount of danger...that is okay.. letting them take some of the physical risks has been hard for me. I don't want them to get hurt.
Well, I am out of time..I want to write more on this...my own thoughts evolve as I write..and it is an interesting topic!! What do you think?

June 2, 2012

I have been thinking a lot about this topic since I wrote this post..There is a shift happening.  There was another Time article (which I haven't read) but the cover was quite controversial..about attachment parenting and extended nursing.  And conversations have been happening over the "Mommy Wars"  It is an interesting time to be a parent these days..the divide between crying it out/co-sleeping.  Helicopter parenting versus Free Range Kids.  As my kids are getting older 9 and 7, and now we have a third child who is 16 months, my own parenting has evolved due to the changing needs of my children and my own personal development and discoveries.  I am"tougher" than  I used to be..I expect more of my kids, and I allow them a little more hardship.  I no longer think that spoon feeding them and protecting them and making them happy all the time, is the best way to help them become the best they can be..  I have been reading some posts with the idea that if you meet their needs as babies, they will become more self-sufficient and trusting later..with the idea of completely sacrificing your needs...totally giving up you bed with your partner for years!  While, co-sleeping worked for us for awhile, it was not for us for "years"..  My husband started sleeping on the couch, our bed was not big enough for the 3 of us.. That was not okay long term..  We all have needs to be met, not just the baby/children...We do a disservice being all-sacrificing for our children.  It is not a good lesson for them..  Needs evolve and with it, we should also adapt and change to it..and honor our own needs as parents as well.  Our home is a place to honor a system, not a royal palace meant to put our children upon prince and princess pedestals..  While, it seems noble to put our needs aside, it does not do our children a service to meet their every need..  Sometimes hardship helps them grow, and we should not deny them those learning experiences either.

I have had a an adverse reaction to the term helicopter parent, because someone gave us a book with a child covered in warning tape, and I felt offended that that person, was pointing a finger at us, judging us..telling us, we were being too protective..When that person, was actually someone who was the opposite of that, someone who did not stand by his children much at all..There are just as many people who are "neglecters" as there are people who helicopter..  Neither are healthy..  As always, I try to find moderation in the pedagogies, following my own heart, doing what seems right for me as a parent..and that shifts as new information and lessons present themselves. I sometimes find I am wrong, and when I find a new truth, I have to adapt to that..  Truth meaning a "TRUTH" not a trend...  or what I think of as a "truth"..

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