These days it’s easier than ever to be a parent — or so our parents and grandparents would argue. Overall, parents have more disposable income, access to daycare, full-time preschools, babysitters, electronic babysitters, and more information and resources on any number of parenting topics than we could ever ask for. Compared with the days when we were being raised, bringing up a child today probably looks pretty EASY to our parents and grandparents.
Now, don’t get me wrong; I am NOT saying that being a mom is easy. I’m just pointing out how different it is to raise a child these days versus when we were growing up. I am, however, arguing that all of the luxuries of modern-day parenting can lead to lazy (or what I’m calling unintentional) parenting.
Before you write me off as a bully, let me explain.
First of all, I have a unique perspective that’s led me to this observation. My daughter had a very rough start to life. There were many days when we weren’t sure she would live to see the next day. I learned early on not to take anything for granted when it comes to her life. From day one, raising her and giving her the best possible chance in life has been my number one priority. That experience has also led me to make the observations that I’m sharing with you today.
We often hear about how the generation of children growing up today is entitled, lazy, and spoiled. I realize I’m overgeneralizing across multiple generations of children, but just go with me on this. Have we ever stopped to ask ourselves why it is that children are growing up this way? Could it possibly be our fault as parents? These days, I believe, we focus more on the day-to-day challenges of being a parent rather than looking at the long-term effects of our parenting.
For example, when life gets busy or stressful, your child or children start acting out, or you have other priorities to focus on, it’s all too easy to bribe children with toys, put them in front of some form of electronic entertainment, clean up the mess they made, or just pay someone else to watch your kids. Because we have more resources overall, it becomes that much easier to use those resources to just get through the day.
I’m just as much to blame as anyone else. I work outside the home and my husband works long hours, so many days after work, it’s just me and my almost four-year-old daughter until she goes to bed. After a long day of work, it’s all too easy to blow off the few hours I have with her instead of using that time to really be with her and intentionally parent her. I could let her watch YouTube Kids by herself or make a giant mess in her playroom by getting out every toy or game she owns, and then put her to bed and clean up the disaster she’s left in her wake. And honestly, sometimes I do.
But, most days, I try to be with her in the moment and use those few hours to parent her. What do I mean by this? We read or play games together. If she wants to watch YouTube Kids, we watch it together and talk about what she’s watching. I make her clean up one game before getting out another one. When she gets cranky or bossy, we talk about manners. If she acts out, I don’t ignore it or bribe her with something; I discipline her.
Am I perfect? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Do I make mistakes on a daily basis? Yes. But I’m trying my best to raise a responsible human being who will grow up to be someone I’m proud of (and who can take care of my husband and me when we’re old . . . ha!).
Now, please know that I am not trying to mom-shame anyone — just offering up a different way to look at our daily parenting tactics.
Have you heard the term “lawnmower parenting?” It’s basically the concept of parents “mowing” over any particular adversity their child may face. In my opinion, it also has the potential to create generations of lazy, entitled children who grow up to have no idea how to function as an adult in the real world. Often times, it’s much easier and more convenient for us to do things for our kids rather than let them figure things out for themselves. Examples: cleaning up after them, doing their homework, calling a fellow mom when they are having an issue with a friend instead of letting them work it out.
I’m not here to say that we should stop working, having a life, etc. I work outside of the home, play tennis, and get together with girlfriends often. But, when I am with my daughter, I do my best to make the most of my time with her. It’s quality not quantity.
Being a parent is HARD work. We’re all doing the best that we can, but sometimes we can get so caught up in the moment that we don’t think about how things will affect our kids in the future.
If you’ve made it this far with me, thank you. I hope I haven’t offended you. If I have, I’d love to hear your countering opinions. If I’ve changed your perspective, I’d love to hear that as well.
Now, get off your phone or computer and go be with your children. 🙂