I struggle with the adjustment to parenting. It’s a difficult transition – leaving behind what I knew and re-identifying myself and my purpose with baby. This transition may be especially hard for my generation, and our struggle with the transition has the potential to make us bad parents.
There are issues that seem to uniquely affect people around my age. Because of these things, we could be unintentionally changing the course of parenting. We could turn into a generation of terrible parents.
I’m sure there are people who don’t struggle with these things, who feel like they were meant to be parents, who easily set aside their distractions and are not consumed with longing for the way things were. I want to be more like you. We’re not doomed to horrible parenting.
I struggle to adjust to parenting in a way that doesn’t seem to have been so difficult for previous generations.
- We’ve spent a lot of time building our identities – since the days of Friendster. We have facebook, twitter, tumbr, linkedin… The identities we’ve spent years perfecting change with baby.
- We have a never-ending obsession with techy toys, gadgets. Smaller and bigger, faster and brighter.
- We have unrealistic expectations of ourselves, and of what we need to do for our children (more activities? tutors? experiences?)
- We have high-speed attention spans. Childhood is dial-up.
- We are multi-tasking our way through our days, and expecting our kids to mult-task through theirs.
- We were older when we had kids. We were more established in our own lives. We are financially more capable of supporting children, perhaps we’re more patient people. But we’ve also given up things that we’ve worked really hard for, and it stings.
- We’re selfish.
- We’ve forgotten how to work really hard without a reward or payoff. Fun is the goal.
- We’ve become perfectionists. Ordinary isn’t acceptable.
- If it isn’t posted, it didn’t happen – the need to participate in social media is preventing us from living in moments with our kids.
- Our “old” lives were fast, ever-changing, exciting, challenging. Parenting is monotony.
- We get bored easily and have little patience for it.
- We had grand expectations of what our educations and talents would bring – some of which was ended or put on hold when we had kids.
My generation, while not doomed to fail, could end up being the most distracted, selfish, busy parents ever. And some of that is good. I don’t want to give up my volunteer work, my projects, my work - to be home with nothing to do (see? multi-tasking, selfishness, no patience for boredom, expectation that I can do it all!) But I also don’t want to rob my Pie of her childhood.
Already her favorite toy is my laptop, and I’m sure it’s because she seems me “playing” with it during the day. My facebooking, tweeting, googling, blogging, reading and working has already invaded her childhood and taught her that she has to be in command of the computer to be the center of my attention.
Acknowledging that we struggle with these things and making an effort to change may save us as parents. The very things that saved my sanity in the early isolated months of parenting now need to be reduced.
I will strive to make my computer time productive, and it will hopefully decline. It will allow me to be more playful with my Pie when she needs me to play and meet her needs better.
We have to learn to shift our identities, to use our skills in a new way. Our happiness has to be put on hold to achieve what is better for our kids.
I have to have more realistic expectations of what I can do in a day.
I have to make sure that the Pie’s favorite toy is not my laptop.
I have to worry less about keeping up and more about keeping peace in my home.
I have to repeat this one to myself - the more I try to keep up with everything, the more frantic, jumbled, messy and out of control my life feels!
My hopes for my Pie’s childhood are for gentle, exploring, learning, fun days. Boredom is OK. Ordinary is OK. But I don’t want her to know that she has to wait until Mama is done writing before her needs are met.
I doubt I will ever be able to “give it all up” and I don’t think it’s healthy for kids to believe that they are the most important thing in the home all the time. But I would like to be more focused on being with my child than with my computer.
We have the capacity to be great parents, if we acknowledge the things threatening modern parenthood and make an effort to focus on the people in our homes. My generation could slip into bad parenting patterns if we allow ourselves to remain self-centered, distracted, unrealistic. Or we can keep trying to move beyond it. As much of a struggle as it is, I am going to keep tabs on my presence.
Do you deal with any of these challenges to your success as a parent? How can we make small changes to honor our children’s needs and our roles as parents?