Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I'm an Average Parent!

This article by Lori Gottlieb makes those of us 'average' parents, who exist in the hyper-judgmental world of parenting and feel guilty about not coming up to snuff, come out on top.  Although the article at times slips in to another of the "you-shoulds", for the most part the author is saying that we all need to relax.  Focusing on every minute detail of our parenting styles and our kids behaviour only serves to shield them from the ups and downs of the "real world".  That's right - as a result of the "you shoulds" directed at parents 24/7, our homes have become fantasy lands with a vigilant focus on proper child outcomes which, in actuality, often leaves children behind.  Average children, who are great and some things and crappy at others.  The author writes, "whether the fixation is happiness or success - parental overinvestment is contributing to a burgeoning generational narcissism that's hurting our kids".

This article has made me realize why I have 7192 pieces of blank white paper around my house with one or two coloured scribbled lines.  My daughter, almost 5, used to fill the page with faces and clouds and other nonsensical scribbles.  But, at least, there was effort involved.  Each time she would hand me one I would clap, give her a high-give and say, "Great job!".  As a result, she's learned that she can take the shortcut through crappy, effortless drawing in to the land of high-fives and "Great jobs!".  The author writes, "parents who protect their kids from accurate feedback teach them that they deserve special treatment".  Our Western world of parenting advice has led us into the realm of constant accommodation and praise rather than earned accomplishment.  

There are many more quotes I could throw in here but, in essence, (and what is maybe a selfish reading of the article in order to make me feel better - ha, irony!), the article is telling us all to back off, and let our kids deal with shit.  The more shit (let's not get carried away here, by shit I mean the normal embarrassment, disappointment and devastation that comes along with growing up)  they deal with now, the more able they will be to cope with it when they are adults.  By constantly protecting our children we are actually getting in the way of their natural development.

Read it here, and let me know what you think.

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