Parenting Panacea (What’s Next?)

I love talking about my kids as much as the next person, not to mention sharing good parenting advice – if and when I stumble across it.

I am very aware that I’ve been fortunate so far with my two kids, which isn’t to say I haven’t experienced worries and heartache. But while I believe I’m a good mother, I also believe there’s an element of luck of the draw, and I don’t pretend otherwise.

As for the pros and cons of hyperparenting (euphemism for helicoptering)?

Apparently, the debates rage on.

And they continue this weekend on the New York Times Room for Debate, and I find it ironic.

Specifically, the Times offers various conversations around this: “When Parents Hover and Kids Don’t Grow Up,” with a variety of opinions that range from “let them stumble and fall” to “the advantages” of extending the period of time during which parents and children (young adults) are actively involved in each others’ lives.

The discussion suggests that “helicoptering” just may be about to crash and burn. Maybe.

And the irony – to me? It’s a discussion that only “involved” parents would engage in, and possibly – educators and academicians.

Parents Who Do Too Much, Parents Who Do Too Little

Getting down and dirty, the issue is parents who are (too) actively involved in their kids’ lives, and a determination that it makes the children dependent. Some may term this overdoing it; others may view it differently, as a necessity in a complicated world.

And when it comes to older teens and young adults, parental support may be economic – the result of the high cost of education (debt burden), and also, the instability of today’s economy.

But let’s get real. We know if we’re doing too much when we do it. Sometimes we feel we have little choice; other times, we feel pressured (by family, by peers, by schools, by physicians, by the media).

We also know when we aren’t doing enough. Don’t we all have times when we “neglect” certain of our own parenting expectations? Or is it guilt, and we’re simply not in Super Parent mode? Aren’t we pretty quick to point a finger at another parent (usually the mother) who seems to be less involved than we might consider adequate?

Common Sense

I’m all for specialists; we may require expert assistance to deal with tricky or potentially dangerous situations – physical, psychological, educational, and more.

May we all be so fortunate as to have affordable access to those resources when we need them.

But what about common sense? How many times do we have to remind ourselves that each child is different? That life circumstances change the picture? That society as a whole is grossly different than it was for our parents or grandparents – as they might of said about their parents or grandparents? That one environment (or style) is suitable for one child, but utterly wrong for another? That a motherly mea culpa, mea culpa is pointless and even counterproductive – whatever your parenting style?

Next Parenting Trend?

To be frank, I’m a little “over” this conversation in so far as it dissects (yet again) the ways in which we deal with our children.

I’m a little “over” the reality that when it comes to parenting (mothering), it’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation – with no end in sight.

I get it. We have serious issues with narcissism and entitlement in this country. And that discussion, I’m not over.

But it goes beyond parents who worry about doing too much or too little for our kids. It goes to our institutions, to our choices, to our voices. I’m tired of feeling as if parents are supposed to be fashioned out of some sort of malleable material, expected to bend and twist with the next trend telling us whatever is key to Millennial Mother (or Father) Knows Best.

What about context? What about common sense?

Parenting by Cultural Bottom Line

We cannot divorce our parenting from the cultural and individual values that we choose to instill – or not – in our children. Why are we pretending otherwise?

We cannot ignore the availability of means to self-destruct now available to our kids, despite the behaviors taught and modeled. Why are we pretending otherwise?

We cannot control the outcome of our parenting – regardless of how hard we attempt to do so, though I believe we can prepare, we can guide, we can protect our children from obvious danger which is only natural. Why are we pretending otherwise?

We cannot divorce our parenting from the economy, from our educational system, from our healthcare options, from our familial dysfunctions that have become the norm – which does not make them “normal.”

Why are we pretending otherwise?

© D. A. Wolf