Before I became a parent, I thought it was just called parenting.
I can’t imagine how I got this far on so little knowledge.
Upon giving birth, I learned new meanings for existing words, like ‘helicopter’ and ‘free-range’; apparently, they no longer only apply to aviation and poultry!
I was pretty sure I knew what the word ‘attachment’ meant until I gave birth. Suddenly, the small world I knew was gone. In its place was this crazy world where people got arrested for letting their ten and six year-old children walk home from school alone (together, but without an adult). For shame!
I was not a grown-up when I was a child, contrary to my belief, so I can only assume that some variations on parenting styles existed; there had to have been – we all know that adult who still lives with their parents. What I know for certain is that yes, we played outside all day and came home when we were called or when the streetlights came on, whichever came first. I suppose I was a free-range kid of sorts, and I was also a latch-key kid, a broken-home kid, and a step-kid. I was also an honor-roll kid, but whatever. I digress.
Our parents wanted the best for us, and when it comes to the safety of my child, no one is more cautious then me, but don’t think for a second that the dangers that exist today (kidnapping, sexual molestation, etc.) didn’t exist then; you bet your ass they did. The difference is that we now have access to vast amounts of information. Back then, it was just the news, and they reported what was of interest. Now, we have online resources by the billions, with each trying to out-report the other. It’s not about more danger now, it’s about more reporting of it now than there was then.
We have become a society that arrests parents for trying to teach (and give) their children independence when they feel their children are ready for it; a society that gives out awards for just showing up, cares more about self-esteem than letting a child learn from failure, and holds everyone but their child responsible for his or her own behavior. The information overload and the constant fear of judgement is making us all freak out about whether or not what we’re doing is right, and thus we’re forgetting to ask “right for WHOM?”.
Can’t we just be free to parent our own ways without having a label (seriously, who wants to be called lazy)? We have enough crises of identity when we become parents; let’s remove the need to fit our square peg selves in to yet another round hole.
In the name of simplification, I am forging ahead with my own style of parenting, which shall henceforth be called ‘Parenting Children’.
I will forget the labels, and find my happy medium. I am going to simply be a parent, without pigeonholing myself. Sometimes I am going to co-sleep, and sometimes I am going to let her cry it out in her own bed. Sometimes I am going to give her sugar, sometimes I will send her to bed for not eating her vegetables. I am going to do what works for me and my family, when it works, and change it if it doesn’t.
There are a few absolutes, though. I won’t back down on teaching my child respect, accountability, and responsibility for her own actions.
I am raising the person who will look after me someday, someone who may end up looking after all of us. With any luck, some of these absolutes will stick.