Its not easy being a parent. We forever feel like we are treading on thin ice, constantly questioning our words, actions and sometimes the lack of them. Are we putting way too much pressure on ourselves as parents? Are we falling into the trap of peer pressure? Are we expecting too much from our children too soon?
“Don’t pull your sister’s hair!” “Put your toys away!” “Don’t get up until your plate is clean!” These are just a few frequently used phrases in my every day repertoire. The things I tell my 4 year old daughter and 2 year old son to do and not to do are endless. Clearly there comes a point in time when these words become meaningless and start to fall on deaf ears. It didn’t take us too long to get there. I realized that I had been so fixated on ensuring things were done the right way (right as by my standards) that I was often depriving my kids of just being kids.
I every so often hear of all the activities that many young children are involved in on a regular basis and wonder if I am doing some disservice by not signing my kids up for the plethora of classes out there. Between school and extra-curricular activities, children these days have a pretty packed day. On an off day, there is a constant reminder from some invisible force to make sure that the day is productive with either a scheduled playdate, trip to the museum or even to the local farmers market. I remember as a child occasionally bumming around in my pajamas, eating Nutella and watching Tom and Jerry all day. It was fun. And the memory of it still brings a smile on my face. In a society where structure is key and everything from play time to craft time, TV time to reading time, sugar intake to protein intake is so meticulously enforced, maybe we are putting needless strain on ourselves and our children.
Don’t get me wrong here, I don’t believe much good can come out of chaos. Routine and discipline in all our lives is necessary. But let’s ask ourselves this – how often do we go from parenting to over-parenting without even realizing it? Constantly on our child’s case making sure the day goes as planned without any hiccups. Saving them from mistakes that one at that age usually makes or hovering around to catch them before they fall.
I wonder about our parents’ and grandparents’ experiences. Did they think so much when raising us? Did they try to make sure that every day was well spent keeping the little minds and hands active and occupied? Were they as ‘hands-on’ as we feel we need to be inorder to be good parents? Despite whatever the differences may be, we’ve turned out quite alright, haven’t we?
After spending four years in the thick and thin of parenthood, I am still figuring it out and as you can see I have many unanswered questions. I know I have a long road of learning ahead with new parenting challenges in store. But I’m ready to meet them head on because after all, these are the lives of our children and what we sow is what we reap.
“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” – James Baldwin