It happens every once in awhile… I’d say about every two or three months. Just when I think I’m doing okay as a parent/wife/human. I’m sitting at my computer, sifting through my various social media outlets, and I see an article.
I think, “Oh man, I know exactly what that one’s going to say just from the headline.”
I think, “I should not click that. I do not need to click that; I already know what it’s going to say.”
I think, “What if the title’s just click bait and it maybe just brings a different perspective?”
I think, “Look, my finger is clicking on that link right now. Huh.”
I think, “Oh, look at that. It’s exactly what I thought it would be. Now I feel like punching something. Who am I kidding? can’t punch things without crying, that hurts.”
And then I question all of the parenting decisions I’ve ever made, fret over the state of the world, and wonder if my kids will be capable of becoming rational adults, even though I know that they will be… even though I’m generally pretty confident in the decisions I make, which I have fretted over time and again…
Which is, apparently, a flawed symptom of my existence as a Gen Y/Millennial parent.
You see, this article will have certain requirements, that will almost always be fulfilled. They are:
- Children who play outside in the neighborhood until the sun sets, and NOT A SECOND SOONER.
- A mother who is casually smoking a cigarette in the kitchen after sufficiently hurricane-proofing her home so that children cannot come in before said sunset.
- Total or near-total omission of any positive aspects that Inherently Evil Modern Parenting has brought to the world.
- Exaggerated examples of spoiled, lazy children who will surely bring about the apocalypse via their Youtubes and all things “on fleek.”
What article am I talking about? Why, let’s take a walk down the lane toward something I call the “good ole days lament” article. (I mean, I’m a Modern Parent, so I’m probably going to ask you to hold my hand while we walk, and I might ask you about your day and your friends, so I hope that doesn’t put you off too much.)
Now, I’m not going to pretend to be omniscient and say I know exactly what goes through the heads of these authors. I think that general assumptions are one of the key flaws of the GODL blog post, anyway, so we’ll avoid that route. I did sit down to write, though, because the blog post I read got me GOOD AND RILED UP, so I’ve got to figure out an angle that I want to take.
Sure, I could link to that article and counter the author’s thoughts, point-by-point, but my point is that these articles are (mostly) the same, and that they are unhelpful. They make me throw up my hands and say, “All right. Okay, so… what? What then? Clearly this is my responsibility, right? Am I supposed to fully separate my daily life from my kids so that I can, what, focus my efforts on my home or my phone conversations? Do you want me to stop talking to my kid about the ins and outs of human socialization? Should I not talk to my kid about the importance of standing up to someone belittling another human? Or DOES ALL OF THIS HAVE TO HAPPEN WHILE DOING KNITTING (if child is female) OR WATCHING BOXING (if male) IN ORDER TO BE ACCEPTABLE AND AM I SUPPOSED TO BE SMOKING CIGARETTES RIGHT NOW!?”
Now, clearly, this is a common reaction of someone who has just read a blog post that makes her want to punch things… not a thoughtfully penned piece of written brilliance from a cool-headed intellectual… which is what I’d like to create/be… but, like most things, I land somewhere in the middle.
So, I’m going to take the middle ground, which is (usually) the proper approach to any hot topic, unless you’re trying to be inflammatory or you have written something immediately after reading something inflammatory without sitting and thinking about it a bit. This blog post you’re reading right here? We’re at about 50/50 want-to-punch-annoyed and thought-about-this-for-awhile-now-cool-headed.
My angle for this post is to talk to the people who read a GODL article and feel dismayed. To you, I say: “Did you make all of your parenting decisions willy-nilly? (probably not) Are you proud of the person you’re raising? (probably) Should your kid maybe help out a little more around the house or maybe play fewer video games? (I don’t know, I’m not living in your house) Do you think you’d feel better as a human if you walked uphill both ways in the snow and then told your kid to do the whole thing again by him/herself without a coat so that they can learn life skills while you make a phone call and wait for them at the top of the hill? (uhhhh)”
Okay, so maybe I’m still feeling a little snarky and punchy, but my point is this: If you feel okay with how you’re parenting, good. If you feel not-so-good about certain things, that’s also a good thing. Balance. Balance, balance, balance. If we get too complacent in our parenting, we lose some of the ability to really learn and teach our kids… and if we sit and lament about the good old days too much, we lose the ability to embrace incredibly important advances in parenting and social progress in general. I’m sure, life as a kid in the 60s and 70s was great (if you were lucky enough to land in a safe and healthy home), and I’m sure that life as a kid right now (same caveat as before) is great… and I’m sure that both times offered crappy aspects, too.
I don’t know a lot, but I do know that many of us are genuinely doing our best, and that if you want to come over and talk to me about how you’re worried about your kid’s friends/grades/soccer team/ballet class/soccer-ballet team, then by all means, go for it.
The good old days will always be haunting us and those damned kids today will always be “lazy and disrespectful”… granted, they might be disrespectful on hoverboards (like actual ones) and the lawns that we’re yelling from might be made from futuristic Mars grass, but it’s not going to stop.
I hope I can remember that someday when I’m rocking away in the bionic rocking chair I’ve had grafted to my body as I look out at the flying-car-highway at the end of the lane.