11.30.2009

music to my ears!



I just read this article on parenting from last week's Time Magazine... if you have a minute, read it. I personally felt very liberated - and also a little sheepish (sometimes, I think I'm totally a helicopter parent, even though I never, ever meant to be one).

How do you guys let go of your parenting anxiety? How do give your kids room to just be kids? I'm curious for practical feedback here...

21 comments:

Inoureyes said...

I think being a bit of everything helps. Sometimes I take on the helicopter parenting, other times i stand in the shadows. I can bubble wrap my child as well as give a swift push and say "go get em"
Being yourself and being aware of what you went through as a child and what society has to offer now is just part of being a good parent.
Giving my kids the reins a lot and asking them what they want to do and what do they feel about it helps to ease the anxiety of parenting.

Nancey said...

I think that somewhere along the way, companies started realizing that you can sell a lot more products to a paranoid parent than one who just enjoys spending one-on-one time with their child. Thank goodness for this recession.

Karin said...

When my first one was born I think I really got infected with some of the fear that is out there. I worried a lot, about everything, about how I needed to be as a mother, about his safety and health. Now there are three little ones under the age of 5. And to be honest: I think that saved all of us. There is no time anymore for over-worrying. There is nothing I can do but let go of the worries that aren't neccesary.

Parenting has been a valuable lesson for me. It taught me to let go. To laugh about myself and my worries. And to enjoy making a mess again :-) There are only a few things that are really musts for me: To love them. To comfort them when they are sad. To listen to them when they need to talk. To feed them when they are hungry. To take care of them when they need me. To laugh with them and show them life is beautiful. And everything else isn't really important.

Jacqui said...

I thought the article's comments about the peer pressure on parents was very apt - it only takes one helicopter parent to make all the normal ones shut up and start feeling inadequate. I hate feeling over-protective and worry that I'm depriving my four year old of valuable independence, but it's a constant battle not to turn into one of "those mothers" for me. She's an only child so talk about having all your genetic eggs in one basket! I have to remind myself constantly that being bored is ok, that being upset is ok, that being denied things is ok - and in fact all of those things are important! The one thing that bugs me the most is that this era of over protectiveness means I have no idea how much independence a younger child should have. I remember my childhood in those terms from around 8 or 9, but before that I don't know how often mum was around. I'm still making her hold my hand across parking lots and roads - is that over-protective or just responsible?

Anonymous said...

I felt a lot of pressure to give my son swimming lessons from a young age. Swimming lessons are a very normal extra curricular activity where I live. But my son HATED them every time we enrolled. Eventually we decided to let it go and wait for him to show some interest, if he couldn't swim and dive and jump like the other kids that was OK. But recently he asked to do lessons (this is about 3 years on) and has excelled in my eyes. It's amazing for me to watch him go for it and overcome his fears and see his commitment to succeeding. Because HE wants it. And this has only happened because we slowed down and allowed it to happen naturally and at his pace. (btw, my daughter now does swimming lessons at a younger age and loves it, I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with swimming lessons, what I'm trying to say is more about working with the each child as an individual because they are so different and when we push them to be the same it can backfire.)
I enjoyed the article. Thank you for the link.

Sara said...

I've always been pretty relaxed about letting my kids "have a go" and we talk a lot about problem solving - working things out, working things through by themselves - not always having Mum or Dad sort things out. It's a great joy to see your kids master something unassisted!

This week I have had a great reminder about paring down - we are packing to move and the boys have been limited to about a third of their toys. They are engaging with the remainder much more than previously. The train tracks are more complex, there are stories that accompany each new construction.

So I think the toy cartons will remain unpacked for some time, and Christmas gifts might be about experiences, not objects.

(ps happy holidays to you & yours - and thanks for lovely blog!)

Kelly and Kelly said...

I really like the comment Karin left. The more kids you have, the less you can over parent. In our experience. And letting go of some of the ideals. It's hard. You bring home your first baby from the hospital and you have visions of perfect children and a perfect childhood and you quickly realize that there is no such thing. So you struggle and learn and redefine perfection.

I'm off to read the article!

heather said...

Great post...and loved the article, as well.

I think it's helpful to perhaps redefine the term "success". It has helped me to accept and love my children exactly as they are, as they came to me. We have tried so hard (sometimes have succeeded, sometimes not) to stop trying to improve upon them. I know so many other moms who literally don't know how to function with their kids in the quiet of a free moment. Something always has to be coached, taught, practiced into them. So far, even though we have a 9, 7, and 3 yr. old, none of them have ever taken lessons for anything, nor have they ever been on a sports team. Other parents are always asking us "when?" and we just don't know what to say. We aren't against it, but we love our evenings and weekends to have lots of down time to just sit together and read fun chapter books and plant a garden. We feel like hippy goobers most of the time, and I'm sure we will participate at some point, but my kids are so relaxed and rested and happy, I'm almost nervous about getting on that particular merry-go-round.

Anyway, I just would like to see women trusting themselves again. Using their genuine love for their children, and their intuition to make the best decisions. Not what their neighbors or friends are doing.

My two cents.;)

lynne said...

I love all of these comments so far... I really like Heather's point of making sure we aren't so obsessed with "improving" our children that we miss who they are. ... and making sure that we don't get swept away in activities. Sometimes I get so busy trying to sign my kids up for "great experiences" that I forget that just playing in the backyard can be that great experience. Honestly, ALL of my favorite memories are doing naughty things with my little sisters as we were unsupervised. Not that I want my kids to be hellions - but I really want them to have those kinds of memories, too.

-I also liked how Inoureyes made the point that you just have to be yourself, as a parent. I guess the obsessing can go in either direction.

This is Carrie said...

Love that article. I highly suggest reading Lenore Skenazy's book "Free Range Kids"- she's quoted in the article. One of the best parenting books I've read in a long time. She even give action plans in "baby steps" if you need them. Plus, she is a very entertaining writer. Even if you don't agree with what she's saying (though I do) you'll at least be entertained.

Audrey said...

I just read that article too and agreed with a lot of it. I had just finished 'Love and Logic' which is one of my favorite parenting books and it also talked about letting children learn through making mistakes and not being a helicopter parent. I am trying hard to let Owen and Will suffer natural consequences and let them make their own decisions. I also think it is so helpful to let them have lots of down time to play and be creative. I am sureyou are great at that Lynne!

lynne said...

Audrey - (congratulations on sweet little Lucas, by the way! Those pictures on your blog are so sweet!!) sometimes I find that I become TOO hands-on when "facilitating" creative moments... isn't that ironic?

Jen said...

What a thoughtful bunch of readers you have. Over parenting is such a problem in our nation. So much of it is the competitive nature of our society. Letting children fail is one of the hardest things to do however if we don't they will be devastated as adults. When you watch the lesson of failure unfold and the joy of learning that lesson happen you see that the failure is truly a success. Also, giving children time to be just that, children, is so important. Even when you hear "I'm bored" you know that something good is coming from the down time. Creativity, thoughtfulness and quiet are all healthy, important parts of childhood.

melissa said...

I've been thinking about this article a lot lately. Many have a helicopter style of parenting in my area. It's hard not to feel pressured to be the same.

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Anonymous said...

Wow! Great article and discussion. I reposted the article on my facebook account in hopes of getting the word out there. This is something that I think about often, as I live in a competitive parent suburb. I am usually the "odd woman out" not really worrying if my son is covered in mud on a chilly day or if I am the only one who's 15 month old doesn't have the "My Baby Can Read" DVD. My favorite memories growing up were the ones full of magic. Making an aesthetically unpleasing but amazing dollhouse out of styrofoam and paper cups, trying to make fruit-punch out of ketchup and water, or running our 'restaurant' for the neighbors with a menu of Cheerios and homemade blackberry juice. I remember my mom trying to helicopter my birthday parties with planned games that were time intensive and complicated (scavenger hunt with clues all throughout the park with prizes along the way...) but the most fun I had at my party was the impromptu game we made up running up and down the hall with foam basketballs and a timer. This moment was not planned, and that was part of what made it so alive to me. As a Marriage and Family Therapist I have learned and witnessed how EQ (emotional quotient) is more a predictor of happiness than IQ. Test scores have never meant that much to me personally. Creativity is always much more interesting and beautiful. I'm so glad that this article is up in the collective consciousness at the moment. I think our children will be the ones to gain from it. -Elisa

Meghan said...

WORD.

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