Why we need to take charge of our parenting lives (and why I’m launching this blog)
Are you a modern parent, retro parent, hover parent, or stress parent? Do you fill your snack bin with whole-grain Kashi Bars, gluten-free KIND Bars, or good ‘ole Nature Valley Granola Bars? Just how, exactly, do you devise your kids’ summer? With one camp after another, or whatever backyard adventure your kids can cook up?
If you’re like me, you feel overwhelmed and confused at times. You sense something’s not quite right. But you’re too tired to get to the root of it and do something about it. What else can you do but pay bills, pack lunches, answer emails, coordinate extra-curriculars, and cook dinner with that conference call on mute? Don’t forget about the rash you need to look up on Google images.
Let’s face it: parenting in the 21st century is no easy task. We’re hit over the head with expert advice about raising and educating our kids. It comes in all shapes and sizes — the e-blast warning of over scheduling, the Tweet espousing Suzuki violin, the handout from school about a “calm parenting” workshop. How did parents ever survive without such vital information?
Sarcasm aside, living in an age in which parenting is a billion-dollar industry and information is at our fingertips does come with positives. Most of us no longer spank our kids, feed them trans-fat-laden foods, and park them in front of the TV all day. We no longer coat them with DEET and think twice about buying cheap, plastic toys to keep them entertained for a mere hour. (Instead, we hand over our iPhones.)
We’ve made real progress this past decade and contributed to the health and well being of not just our own kids but an entire generation. Yet many of us find ourselves between a rock and a hard place. The proliferation of blogs, online news sites, videos, and podcasts keeps us well informed — that is a good thing. But they also leave us second-guessing our decisions and turning to experts even more than we listen to ourselves.
While I would never argue that “knowing too much” is a bad thing, I’m convinced that the onslaught of knowledge hitting parents today triggers a nagging sense of anxiety. I call it culture-induced anxiety. And I’m self-diagnosed.
So I’m starting this blog as catharsis, and to generate a dialogue about parenting in the digital age — and the absurdities, challenges, pluses, and minuses that come with it. My sense is that parents can do more to support each other and stick together. The mommy wars appear to be waning, and different family structures and parenting styles are more wholly honored and accepted. Yet we live in a culture that places high demands on parents and offers little support. How can we change that?