a girl, a guy, a tomato, a bean, and a bear

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Babble: The Over-Parenting Crisis

I came across this article last week and have been meaning to post it ever since. I've been thinking waaaaaay too much lately, but I guess that's something I've always done...

I recently bought a bunch of parenting books on amazon because I had this moment of crisis (ha ha, just a moment, Michele?) where I wondered "What if I'm doing this ALL WRONG?" I mean, without Justin here to even me out, what if I'm making huge errors, being over protective, holding her back, completely stunting her growth and development??? Now, if I'm being rational, I KNOW I'm doing a good job. I know it. She's doing great. But I still worry. And I have to wonder, is this just normal--mothers have always felt this way--or do I feel this way as a result of the hyper-parenting trend in our society? With all of the attention on celebrities' babies, all the "necessary" gear, all of the scary warnings out there about everything from vaccines to BPA-free plastics, it's hard to navigate through as a parent without getting swept up in the hype just a tiny bit.

I always breathe a sigh of relief when I come across an article like Granju's, because it bolsters my confidence and eases my worries (at least for a while). I sometimes feel that the message out there is, "if it isn't hard, you're not doing it right!" or "the more effort the better!" Instead of letting things unfold as they please, I have like it's my personal responsibility to make things happen. I should be rubbing Evelyn's gums and chanting over her while she's asleep in order to assure her teeth will eventually come out. She's not crawling/walking/composing sonnets yet? Exactly what have I been doing all day long?

Granju, while she is a leading advocate for "attachment parenting" describes her parenting philosophy as one of "benign neglect." She says
Until recently, the essential tasks of parenting were seen as nurturing and
socializing children. Today, however, this simple mandate seems criminally
neglectful. Now, parenting requires constant vigilance, unflagging attention to
every detail of our children's lives, and ever present monitoring of their every
While I agree wholeheartedly with her sentiment in the article, if I look at myself, I can see areas where I've succumbed to the hazards of obsessive worry and over-parenting. The fact that I waited to introduce Cheerios to the girl until she was almost 8 months old for fear she'd choke is, I know, silly. (I'm still nervous to continue introducing other "real" solid foods.) I still worry about her breathing at night, even though she is more than capable of getting herself out of a pickle--what she would suffocate on in her barren crib, I'm not sure, but I worry about it just the same. I worry that my lame-o housekeeping skills will make her ill, crawling around inhaling who knows what, and yet, the child has yet to have so much as a cold (knock on wood).

I think when it comes down to it, I have a lot more work to do on ME than HER.


Brad said...

Really good article! And we all know you're an excellent mother! I think a lot of the worrying is natural and every parent has that because they care about their kids. But you gotta step back sometimes and let them make their own mistakes so they learn from them. Just think about how specific things in your life would've affected you.

screamy mimi said...

Thanks, Brad. Yeah, I really liked the article. You totally do have to let the kid figure things out. That part of it is soooo much harder than I thought it would be. I'm such a control freak, and I don't want her to get hurt. I think back on my childhood and all the freedoms we had growing up to wander off etc, and wonder HOW my mom stood not knowing if we were okay. I guess when it comes down to it you just have to teach them well and trust, otherwise you're not doing them ANY favors at all.

Brad said...

True. Although, it is or seems to be a more dangerous world then when we were kids or when our parents were kids and that's kind of sad. But I still think we can be safe and not be overprotective. You do have to have a certain amount of trust in the world. A lot of it is about teaching and trusting our kids with the right information. Obviously Evie's too small to know to run away from a stranger, etc, but you get the idea. :) Keep up the good work!

CLC said...

Ok. First off. I'd like you to know that once again thetomatobear.blogspot.com has found a way to take over several hours of my day. Yes, I should check it everyday so I don't fall behind in posts and therefore add more and more online time to one single day. Yes, it would help if I were a faster reader. And you are absolutely right, I did not have to watch all Top 50 (or least of the ones that were still available) You Tube posts of old Sesame Street clips. HOWEVER, you clued me in to them being there and you are just so damn entertaining I can't help but check out everything - every link, every pic, EVERYTHING - you post. So I'm blaming this on you screaming mimi. Stop being so wise and funny and talented!

Ok - don't really stop. But geeze!

And - I adore this article. I loath over-parenting. I am absolutely disgusted by the growing number of BS allergies children have these days and this CRAP about "adult-only sesame street".

Wake up people. Parenting is not a trendy thing to do because you are bored. Its about another human being, growing and learning to survive in this world. If you don't want kids, don't have them. Why do you think dogs have become so freakin' popular? *Side note- don't spoil your freakin' dog like its an invalid 95 year-old either. Animals need independence and good parenting too. And SPOILING your kids AND/OR your pets is NOT good parenting.* It kills me that people think they can actually buy their way into good parenting. WAKE-UP! Labels don't make you a better person and they certainly will not make you a better parent. Infact, you'll probably be the dumb-ass whose shocked when your child is demanding Calvin Kline underwear and something Gucci at the age of 8 and then turn around and blame it on the schools or TV or "society". Get a grip. Rule Number one: "Actions speak louder than words". Rule Number two: " 'No' is still a word. Use it. Not only for your kids, but for yourself."

Oh geez.... I'm prattling. You've got me all worked up. And this is your blog. I'm so glad you two are such great parents. Its means that good parenting isn't a myth, it's just living in Germany.

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