“The children of today are the leaders of tomorrow.” Talk about pressure for parents!
A recent article in Maclean’s Magazine depicting the downfall of parenting has been making the rounds, and in my humble opinion, ultimately adding to, and fueling the confusion fire. The article relays the collapse of parenting being partly to blame for kids becoming overweight, overmedicated, anxious, and disrespectful of themselves and those around them. It is targeting the laissez-faire parenting style and blaming parents for relinquishing their parental authority, and ultimately their “alpha” role. What has brought upon such a culture of disrespect? The article notes that parents have become prone to asking rather than telling and they are uncomfortable in their role. As such children apparently do not feel taken care of and are forced to take that alpha role themselves.
Parents need to grow up
The solution? Gulli says (in so many words) don’t turn to your children for fulfilling your own needs of affection or acceptance, and grow up. Find the confidence in knowing you are your child’s “best bet” and stand up for them— “an act of love required of parents.”
I have to admit, as I was reading through the article I was nodding my head in excited agreement and some of the plausible effects of parenting on associated mental health diagnoses. However, as I was approaching the end of the article, an uneasy feeling was growing. I was just told all of the things I am doing wrong as a parent and that we should find comfort from that fact that “nobody knows what they’re doing when they leave the hospital with an infant. Every parent learns by trial and error”. As it so happens, the article mentions that the solution may be unsatisfying—boy was it right! Alas, my bobblehead came to a halting stop.
I am, if nothing else, hopeful that the notion to remain confused may spark a movement in finally becoming that village everyone is always talking about that is required to raise a child. It may be a confused village, but a village nonetheless.
As I counsel children and adolescents, I am frequently in contact with parents. This contact is usually encompassed by some variation of questions such as: “How do I help my child?” “How can I make my child happy?” And, my favorite; “Everything I Google (read) is telling me different things, HOW DO I PARENT?”
It is not my sense that parents have in effect given up or have given the parental role to their child. Rather, what I witness in my office time and time again is the purest concern; ultimately a true action of advocating for their children. I have yet to see a parent that doesn’t show that sense of love that the article demands of parents. You are standing up for your child by questioning and discovering new ideas, new possibilities, and new ways of parenting.
Each child is different and has different needs
Alas, what I have come to understand as truly important when parenting, is an understanding of the self and child. Understanding that each child is different, understanding that each child has different needs and wants, and understanding that right and wrong may have different meaning to different parents. Perhaps this is what the article was subtly hinting, however telling wishful Moms and Dads that they are doing everything wrong will not help, rather the sole acts of questioning and hoping are the most valuable characteristics of parents today.