Is modern day parenting in Crisis?
Recently I read an article published by professional Nanny and author Emma Jenner; it lists 5 different area’s she feels modern parents are failing. While I can agree with 80% of what Emma had to say there was a few issues I sorely disagreed with. When I posted the article on my Babybasics facebook page, I had a comment from a parent who then posted a link to a response to Emma’s article, From Jennifer McGrail mother of 6, who has a lifestyle blog promoting home schooling, un-schooling and other family and childcare related issues. Needless to say these women have very different views.
Naturally we all have different opinions, where I agreed with a lot of what both women had to say, I felt an overwhelming urge to respond. Emma has a very practical straightforward approach to childcare, she makes some very valid points about modern parenting and the fact that children these days seems to be in charge of all aspects of their lives, while in fact it should ultimately be the parent who makes the decisions’. While Jennifer feels a more child lead approach works better, that in a way, giving in shows we love them, maybe I took her up wrong, but that’s what I took from her blog. Emma feels parents are living in fear of their children, their outburst and emotions. Speaking from experience as a childcare professional I have seen this fear before, giving into a child to prevent a tantrum or a public outburst which might draw attention to the situation, Yes in some circumstances you may feel you have no choice but to give in, you might be late for an important meeting or appointment you may be exhausted from lack of sleep, juggling a career and family, guilt of working away from the home and I’m sure plenty of other excuses you can think of, but giving into your child’s unreasonable demands will ultimately be their downfall, YES theirs!! While you are momentarily making life easier for yourself you are making your child less prepared for the real world, where they will not get their own way 100% of the time, probably not even 50% because that’s life.
Now I’m not saying we have to deny children what they want out of principle, but I am saying that if for whatever reason you have decided your child cannot do or have what he or she wants at that moment, then that’s it, no means no. There is absolutely no harm in negotiating with your child, for example you’re in the supermarket and your precious little dude wants a treat before dinner, While it’s not the right time now you can simply explain that you will buy the treat but he can only have it if he eats a reasonable amount of his dinner, which you decide on. If he doesn’t eat his dinner the treat stays in the press, make sure this is made very clear to him. If he eats his dinner you tell him how well he’s done and you follow through with your promise of the treat, thus being fair and sticking to your word. This is teaching your child not one but two life lessons. This is just a very simple example that can be adapted to most situations. While it is very important to give your children choices, promoting independence and self confidence it is also as important to have boundaries, You can ask your child what cup they would like to use or what they fancy for lunch, if they change their mind as you hand up their beaker or their lunch, then that’s just tough, let me tell you, they will soon learn to take their decisions more seriously if you stand tough, remembering to calmly explain that they were given the choice and you haven’t the time to remake lunch, and if a tantrum starts you remove the child from the room and tell them only to return when they have calmed down, after all why should you listen to that when you have been so reasonable. Yes we are raising a future adult here, please remember that. There is no harm in expecting a certain level of behaviour from your child; making excuses for your child will only serve to undermine their own self confidence in life. Yes your child may be tired or unwell but remember this, As an adult if I’m tired or feeling under the weather and I act unreasonably should that or will it be overlooked? Not usually. Of course children with diagnosed mental health or developmental issues may be a little more complex. Again it’s all about life lessons… Now I don’t mean giving out to a child who’s crying in the supermarket with a high temperature, the child shouldn’t be there. I mean the child who hits out or acts badly because he “tired” or he “must be coming down with something” I try not to laugh every time I hear those two excuses for not lying down boundaries.
Every parent has different expectation from their child, once their fair then there’s nothing wrong with expecting a certain level of behaviour or achievement, and nobody has the right to question that.
Another topic Emma brought up was the increase in the use of technology to entertain children, while I agree, I hate nothing more than seeing a family out at a restaurant all more involved in their Iphones, iPods or game console then with each other, bringing books, a sticker book, colouring book or a small jigsaw should all be first call before you move to the technology fix..However, these devices have certainly got their uses, and let’s be honest the worlds changing and we have to change with it. It’s all about balance, like everything in life we can’t over indulge.
One of Jennifer’s opening comments was“a nanny (I think that’s important to note. She’s writing it as a nanny, not as a mother) outlines what she believes to be the five worst mistakes being made by us modern parents” Now, having worked in childcare for the better part of 10 years and currently expecting my first child this comment made my blood boil, Childcare workers are trained experienced professionals who have in a lot of cases been putting up with badly behaved children day after day because of their parents inability to admit they need help. If I had a euro for the number of times I was told “You’ll know when you have your own” I would be a millionaire and to be honest it’s complete crap. Where I do feel Emma needs to be a little easier on the modern parent, because I fully understand that it is not an easy task, Jennifer needs to stop the softly softly approach to parenting and get real. I recently had the pleasure of working with an amazing family who gave me the opportunity to come into their home and observe the way they parented, to be a part of their everyday life as their Nanny, while I respected their ways and beliefs in raising their child they equally respected my training and experience and took everything I had to say onboard, we worked as a team to ensure their little girl was developing both emotionally and physically to the expectations they held as parents of a future adult.
She turned three in may and having worked with the family for over two years I am so extremely proud of the work we have ALL done with her, she is a kind, caring, well behaved and emotionally balanced little girl. Yes she has her moments, we all have bad days but the fact is she is incredibly easy to be around, popular with kids and adults alike, and always has been, simply because we never accepted anything less from her. She may not excel in maths or be the next president, then again she might, she’s very bright but she will certainly be a confident and kind person, open minded and able to relate to others. I really feel she will be able to make her own path in life, knowing she has her family’s support and a good sense of the world around her. Her parents are firm but very fair, and her individuality is so very important to them, as is every child’s, so embrace it. Listen to your children, talk to them even when they can’t yet reply and really look at them as individuals.
In my opinion the worst things you can do as a parent are
1: Making excuses for unreasonable behaviour and failing to address these issues.
2: Having little or no expectations for them, I hate seeing this. If that’s their behaviour or schooling, sports ect, but your children are all different, to each other and to you. Embrace it, you are the best tool they have to achieving their dreams, not your dreams, remember that.
3. If at first you don’t succeed….If your children see you get up dust off and try again they will follow, monkey see monkey do!! We all could have dealt with situations better, admit it and move on. There’s no harm in admitting your mistakes and apologising, especially to your children.
4: Not giving children any responsibility, presuming they won’t or can’t do something really bugs me. Simple tasks like tiding up after themselves or helping with the housework, you wouldn’t believe the sense of pride they get from that. As a child gets older they should have little jobs to complete on a daily or weekly basis. You’re also showing them that nothing in life is free, you want a new game or toy, ok well here’s a few jobs you can help me with.
5: Forgetting were all part of the bigger picture, take a minute everyday and look at what’s happening in the world, it’s scary. Children need to be taught humility and acceptance. Social responsibility and kindness isn’t just something you’re born with. Yes some children are more caring naturally but being taught to share, taking turns and listening to others is so important. It’s so important as a parent to show kindness and open mindedness to others, especially in front of your children, this will determine your children’s attitudes towards others as adults. Show them everybody is equal and please don’t let them hear you slagging of people, you don’t want to be that parent with the bully child do you? And you defiantly don’t want your children to hear you insulting somebody they might actually have something in common with, keep that one in mind.
So I’m certainly no expert, but who is? At every turn your going to make mistakes and wish you had made better choices, in life, work, relationships and of course as a parents. There is always time to turn things around, and there’s no harm in asking for advice sometimes. As I always say, if you try your very best everyday and spend time listening to your kids, then you can’t go too far wrong. At the end of the day all we really want is to raise good people, who can stand on their own two feet, treat others right and achieve their own dreams.
There’s no such thing as “I cant” you can and you will, be the best you can be…
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