24 November 2010

Perfect Children?

I just perused this article on Slate about whether modern parenting is ruining children.  The article also made the point about how this obsession with control starts during pregnancy, with the lists of dos and don'ts, and I agree.  If you read any pregnancy forums, this is evident, as various people talk about all the things you shouldn't eat or shouldn't do.  I decided to just use the axiom of all things in moderation, and I think the author agrees with that.

The author describes so-called "helicopter parents", and for the most part I agree with the article.  Of course, I also understand the desire to protect our children from anything that will hurt them, but this is impossible.  When I am tempted to do that, I remember my own childhood, and how my parents, thankfully, allowed me to run around outside all day, either by myself or with cousins, siblings, and/or friends.  Yes, we got dirty and got hurt, but we lived, and it was fun.  We'd get cleaned up and go right back.  That's not to say there weren't limits, but they didn't hover over us.

I try to do that with my kids to an extent, and will more when they are older.  At first it was tempting to scoop up K any time he stumbled, but now I don't.  I ask him if he's OK, and sometimes he asks me for a kiss if he's hurt, but then he runs along and plays with the neighbourhood kids.  Since he's not quite 3, another parent or I stay out to watch him, but I don't follow behind him.

I think it also becomes easier to take a more hands-off approach with two children, as well.  I can't watch C quite as much as I did K, because I have both of them to watch now.  I leave them to play together while I cook, and they do well.  Sure, there are bumps and bruises, and fights over toys (inasmuch as C can fight for a toy - it's mostly on K's end right now), but that's what siblings do.

It's also rare for me to schedule the day.  I'll have a general idea of things to do and a possibly timeframe, but nothing specific except for Mass, or those days when we attend a play group.  Even those aren't set in stone, though, so if one kid needs a nap, or we just don't get ready in time, then so be it.  During the day we play, K helps me cook & vacuum, we talk about God and Star Trek and Sesame Street, read whatever the kids ask for, and play with various toys.  I will admit that I prefer wooden toys - they're durable and I just like them.  We also have our share of other toys, though, and that's fine.  Kids should be kids. :-)
Hmm, here's an idea: maybe the solution to all this is just to relax.  We can't control every single thing, and we shouldn't worry about everything.  

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