The Accidental Parent
So what is considered good parenting?
I have asked myself this a million times.
As a Baby Boomer parent, I would often look around me for good parenting cues..
I had themed birthday parties, playdates, lessons in music and sports. My kids had most “things” that other kids had. But I got a little tired of these. What were they teaching my kids?
You see, no one really teaches a person how to be a parent.
Although influenced by parents and neighbors who hovered around their kids to over plan every nuance of their lives, I often considered myself a little lazy when it came to all that scheduled stuff.
In fact, I felt downright guilty that I told them to play outside. I felt stressed when we took our tote bags to the bookmobile and spread a blanket out under the maple tree to spend some summer afternoons reading our “free” books instead of going to the book store or story time at the library.
Would I be judged as that lazy mom who didn’t take them from 1:00 ballet to 4:00 piano, I wondered?
Often times, I immersed my girls in extended family gatherings instead of ultra planning summer weekends. They played almost daily with their cousins, got ice cream with their grandpa or chocolate doughnuts and chocolate milk at the Bakery. These cousins had become like siblings and often put on plays and concerts that had them wearing costumes and crazy clothes.
You know what I have discovered? Being a lazy Baby Boomer parent, was the best thing I could have done for them. They knew how to entertain themselves, make friends, earn money, drive beater cars, and live an uninsulated childhood.
Don’t think for one minute they never whined about what they didn’t have. They coveted everything they didn’t have. Remembering Chelsea's high school days when she so wanted a flip phone. Instead, her friends gave her chunky mobile phone a nickname: "The Brick". Alyssa wanted to be in ski club in middle school in the worst way, and couldn't understand it when we told her that ski club meant actually going outside and skiing.
It's hard to say no and it is hard to be the bad guy.
Richard Watts wrote an article published in Forbes magazine back in December. In it he writes about Boomer Parents
:“We were intentionally spoiling you, unintentionally.”
Having worked with Millennials most of this year, I have to agree.
We were afraid to risk your affection when we should have be equipping you with life tools. You deserved to be made ready for letdowns, failures, not be number one, loss, crisis….but we cushioned each fall.
I really am not blaming the parents. We did what everyone else was doing. We thought it was the best thing.
Watts suggests for Boomer Parents to make some changes:·
-Encourage, give advice, share your personal struggles·
-Withdraw financial support·
-Allow for the successes.
-Allow for your life to belong to you and rest on your own sense of accomplishments.
So I guess I am saying, parents, give yourselves a break. Allow for the face plants and down times that your kids may have.. These are the best things you can give your kids for their personal growth.
.Thanks for listening.