We all fail as parents at one point or another. I am fully convinced that no matter how stable and nurturing of an environment I provide for my two, they will undoubtedly end up needing therapy in their adult years from some slight or trauma that I induced unknowingly. It just seems that is the way it is these days. See, when I was growing up, quite a few of us had “functional dysfunction” households. My husband and I are from “broken homes” and endured many scenarios that my children will never bear witness to; and we work very hard to make sure of that. But sometimes, I wonder if all of this “perfection” is causing our children more harm than good?
When my husband and I get in spirited disagreements and raise our voices (laughing the entire time), my children become disturbed. “Stop fighting,” they say. The first time we heard this we were shocked into silence. “Seriously,” we thought, they have no idea what fighting between parents is like. As stated, my husband and I have impassioned disagreements, usually related to politics or other hot button issues, but we are discussing them in a passionate way. We do not fight, ever. I may give him the deep freeze when I get mad, but we do not yell at one another, we saw too much of that growing up. I feel as though I am torn between wanting my children to have this Utopian childhood, and wanting them to know what real life is like.
In recent years, as the children have grown older, we have implemented chores. At first we tried giving them a list and paying an allowance if we did not have to remind them to do the chores. This failed miserably. We restructured and have finally found the magic formula. They do chores because they are part of our household, and we do not pay them anything. It really has been amazing to see; just telling them how helpful they are means the world to them, much more than $2.50. My two wash dishes, make beds, vacuum, and now the boy has begun learning to cut the grass- the old-fashioned way – with a push mower. I have seen a difference in them and it makes my heart happy. They WANT to help, and do so without us asking, and that is the greatest gift we can give to our children, teaching them to work and have initiative.
My generation is on its way to creating a generation of lazy, overly sensitive people. I adore my children and know that they are so much better than those versions of themselves, but I saw it creeping in and we put a stop to it. Our children are delighted to spend hours outside playing, with sticks. We do not have the latest and greatest toys outside, we do not allow them to play electronics during the week, and my greatest accomplishment is the fact that they LIVE outside now and rarely ask to play their tablets. I encourage reading books, drawing, PLAYING, and having meaningful conversations.
I have often had times where I felt I had to “keep up with the Jones’” it is only human to have those feelings; but you really need to look inside yourself and know who you are as a person, and who you want your children to be so that you can fight those feelings. So what, you do not have a brand new car (that means no debt), you do not belong to the pool, go on Disney vacations every year, have all the latest and greatest. Things, things, and more things, I do not want to raise materialistic, self-centered children. I want to raise good, kind, and loving people. People who respect hard work, themselves, and the earth, and want to make a difference. We cannot keep trying to create magical, perfect childhoods for our children; it’s not doing them any good.
I do not wish for them to experience dysfunction (who am I kidding, we have our moments) or have terrible things happen. I just want them to appreciate everything. I want them to appreciate their safe and secure environment, because not everyone has that. I want them to appreciate the blue sky and the birds chirping and know that magic is waiting for us outside every day. I do not want to give my children manufactured magic, and that is the dark path that this generation of parents is heading down.