Seriously, I’m not whining (well, maybe I am, a little).
But I have facts to back up my case. For this, I will contrast early 80s parents with the parenting that occurs in 2010.
Exhibit One: The infant car seat with its “Budweiser” cover.
1970s: Everyone thinks this is funny, the picture of said infant is framed and hung on the wall, and everyone gets a good laugh.
2010: Picture is posted on Facebook and CPS is called.
Exhibit Two: Parents throw loud, drunken party.
1980s: Kids serve as bartenders, grabbing beers for anyone who asks. They may also learn how to make mai-tais, margaritas, and whisky-sours (though, I have been told, not very well, but the drinks were very strong and I don’t recall anyone caring). Everyone praises parents for having such nice children.
2010: Kids serve as bartenders, someone disapproves, and everyone gets arrested.
Exhibit Three: Parents want alone time, so they send the kids outside to play.
1980s: Kids go across the street, play in a creek infested with cotton mouths, and come back four hours later covered in mud, bug bites, and one has welts from being hit with pellets from her little brother’s slingshot (though why he has a sling shot eludes me). No one thinks a thing of it, though the sister does complain often and loudly about the lack of calamine lotion in the house and demands retribution for the incident with the sling shot.
2010: Kids go to a park, are reported to the police and CPS is called. At the very least, parents get a stern talking-to from police for allowing their children to go to the park unattended. Sling shot is confiscated as a deadly weapon.
Exhibit Four: Kid is weird.
1980s: Teachers say, “Yep, kid is weird, but smart and seems happy enough.” Weird kid hangs out with other weird kids, eventually gets married to a weird (w0)man and they have weird kids, thus perpetuating the weird cycle. But they pay taxes and are happy.
2010: Counselors and speech pathologists get involved, kid is enrolled in social skills groups, but now knows that how (s)he interacts with the world is all wrong and leaves with poor self-esteem. Now tries desperately–and expends an inordinate amount of effort–trying to fit in.
(** My professional advice, unless there is something seriously weird about the kid, leave him alone. For instance, the kid who barks in class and has no friends for a long period may need some help. The quirky, smart kid who has a couple of friends but is never going to win a popularity contest… Just let the kid be weird. Weird is not a disorder.**)
Things are different now. We have more to worry about: actual bullying, cyber-bullying, internet porn, stalkers on the internet, kidnappers, pedophiles, food borne pathogens. We’re inundated with information about what we should do to be good parents, what we shouldn’t be doing as good parents, and the hidden dangers lurking in our cupboards. We’re told that if we do too much for our kids, we’re over-protective helicopter parents (and our kids will suffer for it), but if we don’t do what others think is enough, we’re not making our kids a priority (and our kids will suffer for it).
I don’t know where the happy medium is… I kind of think that no matter what I do, whatever I do won’t be good enough. So I’ll do the best I can and hope they don’t turn out to be pole dancers or pirates.