Why is parenting becoming more and more difficult every day?
We are doing more for our children today than any previous generation has.
And yet our children seem to be turning out more entitled, less motivated and less capable.
We seem to be fighting a losing battle with hearts full of unhappiness in homes full of conflict.
What is the reason for this?
And what can we change to make things better?
Let go of fear
Children thrive when they are surrounded with love and happiness. And of course we love our children. Of course we are happy when we are around them.
But we are constantly stressed and anxious as well. And our anxiety and stress sometimes overshadows the happiness and love.
We are stressed and anxious because we want to hand our children success and happiness on a platter. We don’t want them to struggle.
We forget that children are truly happy with their achievements, only when they have put in the effort to overcome obstacles because it makes them feel capable.
So as we strive to make them happy – we are actually arranging for them to be unhappy
When children overcome obstacles they feel capable. When they feel capable they are motivated to do more. And as their self-esteem grows they stop acting like entitled brats because they realize that no one needs to do things for them. They can do what they need themselves.
Don’t expect perfection
Every child is perfect in his/her own way. And to be truly happy we must allow different children to be perfect in different ways.
Unfortunately, we don’t allow that. We want every child to be perfect in every way.
We want a child who looks perfect, comes first in class, is a great orator, can sing and dance, is good at sports and is an amazing artist.
We invest time, energy and money in our endeavor to make our children perfect.
Perfection however is unattainable and it makes everyone feel like a failure. Striving for all round perfection leaves us dissatisfied and our children tired, unhappy and demotivated.
It is alright to be inconspicuous and mediocre. Abandon the struggle to be better than everyone else if it is resulting in constant unhappiness.
Live in the moment
Most of us complain that we have too little time to spend with our children.
But that is not the real problem.
The problem is that when we are with our children we are focused on the distant future. This results in us being emotionally absent even when we are physically present.
Being physically present and emotionally absent is the worst thing we can do to our children. Our behavior tells our children that they are not good enough as they are. And this makes them develop low self-esteem.
Our children want to make us happy. But when they realize that our happiness lies somewhere in the distant future, and that making us happy means doing a hundred different things – they find the task overwhelming and give up. But they don’t give up happily. Giving up makes them feel small and unworthy.
Who knows what will happen tomorrow? Enjoy today with your child. Remember yesterday you were wishing for today to happen.
Most of us don’t like ourselves. We constantly want to be like someone else.
As a result we are constantly trying to do what someone else is doing. We are preoccupied with trying to be as perfect as another mom – who we imagine is perfect.
As a result we are not our own authentic selves when we are around our children.
Our children however think that we are perfect just the way we are. And they want to be with the Mom that they know you are. They don’t want the Mom that you are trying to turn into.
They miss the real you. They want the real you.
Just because a dozen different moms are doing a dozen different things for their children it doesn’t mean that you need to those things. Your child needs you and the things you can do.
So for example – if you are a working mom – don’t feel guilty that you are not baking cookies for your child every day like the Stay-At-Home-Mom next door. Don’t come back from a hectic day at work and plunge into cookie baking just to be like her. Come back and spend time with your child the way you feel you should – the way your child wants you to.
Dare to be who you are. Because your child needs a mother who loves herself.
Don’t lose yourself in your mom duties. Be passionate about something and do it because it make you who you are.
Reach out for help
Parenting is not a competition. We do not have to do it all on our own and we do not have to win and bring up the best child who is better than everyone else.
We are in this together. Together we are trying to raise a generation of good capable human beings who will be good world citizens.
Let us not isolate ourselves. Let us not be quick to judge and slow to help.
We need each other. We need to go back to community parenting.
Devices and services cannot do for us what other parents in the vicinity can.
It is OK to feel tired and overwhelmed and ask for help. It does mean that we are weak and incompetent. It means that we are real.
When we are real – everyone around us can relax and be themselves because they are not dealing with Super Woman – they are interacting with another woman – who is strong but vulnerable.
Parenting is becoming more and more difficult because we are trying so hard to be better than everyone else.
We cannot reach the finish line ahead of others because there is no finish line. So let us just enjoy the journey.