'80s Moms Nailed This Parenting Thing: Take Their Tips!
A new study has come out that claims that parents today are more aggravated than parents ten years ago. It's somewhat ironic, given that women and men today tend to be more emotionally in-tuned and spiritually-enlightened than they were a decade ago, but moms and dads are reporting feeling frustrated with their kids these days.
Wanna guess why?
If you said the Internet, social media, smart phones, etc., you get a gold star. Parents are feeling more distracted these days, thanks to things like Facebook; and they're feeling more like failures, thanks to things like Pinterest. (Who the hell can make an Easter bunny wreath out of pipe cleaners and a tin can?!) "Parents feel distracted from the job of parenting by the need to constantly be checking on their email, or other electronic devices, as well as monitor their kids’ use of these devices," David Murphey, a senior research scientist at Child Trends and one of the authors of the reports, said.
Other reasons the percentage of parents who are feeling aggravated with their kids has nearly doubled since 1997? Stresses related to busy schedules and work. "The American family has changed in some significant ways in recent years. We have more single parents, we have more dual-income families," Murphey added.
I can't say I'm surprised by these findings, but at the same time, it's a little disheartening. Electronic devices and the Internet not-withstanding (which not every family is addicted to), don't we parents today take our jobs as moms and dads incredibly seriously? More seriously than the parents of the past (hi, our parents)? We read books; we breastfeed longer; we co-sleep; we carry our babies in slings (and sometimes our toddlers); we don't use time-outs; we try not to raise our voices; we listen to our kids; we cook them fresh, organic food; we eschew any and all items containing BPA.
Are we putting too much pressure on ourselves? Is that what's adding to our aggravation? Everybody knows that a happy parent is a happy child. What a shame it would be to put so much effort into raising happy, healthy kids only to have it negated by everyday frustrations.
I was raised in the 80s, and my parents did things much different from how my husband and I do with our daughter. If I was crying? My mom plopped me in a playpen and let Big Bird and Oscar do their magic for hours on end -- and sans the guilt, because that was the way then. Of course, I would never do that with my child, nor would I recommend it, but maybe we modern parents could take a page or two out of parents' books in an effort to make things easier on ourselves.
1. We can ditch the phones/Internet/social media. When my daughter was young, I had a rule about not having my phone out when I was near her, and I'm ashamed to admit, I haven't stuck to it. You know what I've found helps, though? Turning my ringer off or leaving my phone upstairs when I'm downstairs and vice versa. The funny thing is, when my phone is there, there is this low-grade feeling that there's an email I'm missing or a text I need to get back to. But outta sight, outta mind.
2. Let kids be if they're content. Plenty of parents do this right now, but there are also plenty who don't. Maybe it's because so many parents work these days, but seeing a mom or dad disrupt their kid's solo play time so they can get in on the action isn't exactly uncommon. If they're quietly playing it means they're happy. Yay, you have a happy kid!
3. Stop obsessing over every little thing. If your child puts a plastic toy in their mouth, they're not going to get cancer. It's great if you can cut down on plastic as much as possible, but be realistic.
4. Stop being so hard on yourself. Seriously. Do you think your mother would have worried if she let you watch TV for too long, or if the meal she gave you wasn't nutritious enough? I'm not saying she was a bad mom, but she did what she could and she was okay with that. That sounds like a good way to be less aggravated, doesn't it?
Do you think you're more aggravated with your kids than your parents were with you?