Monday, May 27, 2013

on american parenting (is it all wrong?)

This article has been on my mind ever since I saw it!  I've been recently thinking about what kind of mother I might like to be, and what I would do differently from my parents, and so on and so forth.  It seems to me that parents who raise their kids to be independent--who seem to take more of a "hands-off" approach--produce children who have a sense of self-reliance and general character quality.  Granted, they also seem to have an insufferable-teenager-phase, but honestly, who doesn't?  At any rate, it seems like the people I now consider "super cool" and want to be around were raised by laid-back, less-involved parents.  

I don't think this means not being loving or nurturing or available for you kids.  Far from it!  But I wonder, what's the middle line, and is there an approach that can combine the best of both worlds....  And so this article is the next input in a line of fascinating ideas.  I strongly encourage reading it in its entirety, but here's a quick summary of the main points: 
  • We need to let 3-year-olds climb trees and 5-year-olds use knives.
  • Children can go hungry from time-to-time.
  • Instead of keeping children satisfied, we need to fuel their feelings of frustration.
  • Children should spend less time in school.
  • Thou shalt spoil thy baby.
  • Children need to feel obligated.
Pique your interest?  Sound outrageous?  I know. But the arguments are actually quite compelling.  

I admit it would be very difficult for me to parent this way.  The more I hear childhood stories from my friends, the more I realize how extraordinarily tame my house was!  We were very quiet, very safety-conscious, very proper kids, for the most part.  We hardly left the yard, and definitely never wandered the neighborhood alone!  I wouldn't say I missed out growing up, and I love a quiet house and a peaceful existence, but I wonder what my childhood might have been like if I'd been...less...grown up from such a young age.  Now, it's highly likely that I was the weird one, and my parents' methods had nothing to do with it.  But it's something to think about....