The Case For Less

Here I am, the proverbial mother in the grocery store ready to lose my mind.  Standing in my elastic waist pants, with my messy pony tail and Dunkin Donuts coffee that I have been nursing since I entered the store.  My youngest, too old to want to be in the cart, too young to not be unbelievably irritating, was swinging like Tarzan off of every inch of the cart.  My kids, luckily were not big on tantrums, at least not until pre-teen years, but this one time, the little one decided to be a complete lunatic and melt down.  I did what any other person watching this meltdown would do and took a few steps back, looking around with disgust on my face, trying to look like I was trying to figure out who the bad parent who couldnt control their child was.   With no parent to scorn, the bystanders cleared out, and pretty soon, my child realized all her wasted energy was not getting her anywhere and calmed down. She did not get what she wanted and I was able to finish shopping with out having a melt down myself. I felt pretty good after that, but as any parent knows, your self esteem as a parent can disappear as quick as the bottom of the dirty landry basket does, right after you have managed to wash it all.

In the age of Pinterest and helicopter parenting, it is hard to find balance, especially for those of us who came from the generation where acting like our children, collectively, not my angels, would not have left us alive long enough to raise the next generation.  Although I step back on the playground and silently think to myself sometimes, that the little brat throwing a tantrum needs a swift kick in the bottom, I know they do not.  They need the opposite.  Unless someone is in danger, kids need to stop getting attention for bad behavior.  I am not saying to let them run wild, but rather do not let them run wild, but more non chalantly.  Stop arguing, pleading, making deals and letting them decide when they want to listen.  I am guilty of all of the above but I know it needs to stop.  Remember that one look your mother could give you when you were young that stopped you in your tracks?  Do you know why it worked?  It worked because her limits were not negotiable.  There was no argument  because it takes two to argue and our parents refused to participate.  A look. It was that simple.

Not only is setting boundaries overdone these days by bartering with the children, making sure they are satisfied with their outcome and other things our parents could not have even dreamt up, but now that we live in the days of more, people want bigger, better, faster everything and children are overindulged in other areas too.  We want our children to have everything that we did not and that is admirable, but it comes at a steep price which is completely separate from the effects of spoiling them.  We are so busy giving them everything we missed out on, that we forget to give our kids everything that we did have.  I would not trade my childhood for one where I had the newest Iphone, most expensive Jordans and whatever it is kids covet these days.  Thank you but I will keep my AOL dial up, recording songs from the radio, calling for friends, long games of man-hunt, staying up late catching fireflies and be home before dark days over constant social media obsession, instant music on demand, play-dates, Mind Craft,  staying up late texting and not needing a time to come home because you are constantly connected.

Maybe we are reluctant to give our kids what we had, because at the time, we did not realize how good we had it.  I hated being bored.  I remember feeling so helpless on the summer days when noone on the block was home to play with because our parents were not  chauffeurs and play dates were not a thing, but I not only survived, I became a better person.   Our kids dont know what real boredom is.  Most of them have constant stimulation where they not only are denied a chance to be alone and learn who they are, but they are constantly bombarded with social expectations in the form of YouTube Videos, Instagram Posts and SnapChats.  How is one supposed to learn who they are when they never have a chance to focus within?  We may have been bored, but that boredom came with freedom.  We were free to think, free of constant chatter,  free of constant expectations.  These days, kids may leave the school building, but they do not escape the drama.  The same trials and tribulations of school life we experienced as young adults now follows our children home and what may be a hidden burden for the popular kids, may become a devastaion for those who are bullied who can not even escape from it outside of school.

 

I am sure noone will argue that we as adults are immune to the symptoms of over social mediazation.  Not only does it have the same negatives as it does with children but the effects are more devastating, as social media becomes part of the reason we parent our children the way we do and we no longer use instinct, our own common sense or even advice from our own pediatricians to parent. We parent based on peer pressure and not only judge our parenting skills based on these false personas portrayed in social media, but we judge our own children. It doesn’t take long to search and find a parent posting a video of an extreme punishment for the world to see. In those cases, even if the punishment fits the crime, the whole production completely skews the situation from a learning experience for the child, to a broadcasting of the parent’s child rearing skills. There is nothing wrong with bragging if you think you rock as a parent, especially these days when we often find so much criticism over everything we do, but not at the expense of your child’s well-being, which is dependent upon how you handle these exact situations.

Kids are jerks. They come that way. It is our job to teach them right from wrong and before social media, we did not often parade kids out and publicly humiliate them to make ourselves look or feel better but rather, we dealt with them at home. I think our job as parenting went from family centered to society centered which has drastic consequences. When a child misbehaves at home we are more likely to deal with the child based on our own values, but out in public, we are dealing with our kids based on the unknown values of strangers since we are under public scrutiny, and these days, social media skews the lines between public and private. Granted, maybe I am less likely to yell like a lunatic the 50th time I ask my kids to do something in front of people than I would be at home, but maybe if I did not let my kid get away with things I otherwise would not just because I am in public, so I do not think I look look mean, I would not need to say something repeatedly. Maybe if I did not have this false illusion that other parents were blissfully making it through the day without losing their cool, I could relax and worry less about others and more about how I think things should be handled. Maybe if I could drowned out all of the expectations, I could actually reevaluate the principles and values I find important and incorporate them into raising my children.

 

1 thought on “The Case For Less”

  1. I agree that kids have way too much stimulation these days. Let’s not forget about the kids who now sit with a phone or iPad in front of them 24/7 in order to stay entertained. Bleck. Anyway, great post and best wishes – Carly

    Like

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