Are We Mollycoddling Our Children?

There was an article in The Age Good Weekend this Sunday that had me wondering what criticism parents will be facing next. This article actually accused parents of being too caring about their children. It wasn’t put in those words, of course, but it did use the term “over-parenting.”

Parents, it seems, are spending too much time with the kids, take them to too many activities and allow them too much free reign on the household space. Instead of ‘in the good old days’ when children were seen and not heard today’s parents are too worried about whether they’re doing a good job and don’t spend enough time without the children in tow.

Well, excuse me for being a terrible parent but I love to spend time with my daughter. In fact, call me crazy, but the reason I decided to have a child was because I actually wanted to have her in my life. Now, this is really nuts but I care about whether or not she’s happy and I’m not too keen on letting her break limbs because it teaches “resilience.”

It also seems fair enough to me that parents are worrying about whether they’re doing a good job or not. We live in small families in today’s society, in relatively isolated units. There are no constant parenting role models to gain knowledge from and when we have children of our own it’s often the first we discover about these small people.

Parenting needs to be learned as much as maths or science or english but this skill is not taught. Why criticize the use of parenting books and parent coaching classes when it’s all a lot of people have to go by? Why not look at the structure of society rather than add more uncertainty to parents’ hearts and minds?

Regardless of that, I actually like the current trend towards “over-parenting.” I like that I can take my daughter to a restaurant. I like that I can bring her on holiday with me. I like that her toys fill the empty spaces in the house. I like to see the world through her eyes. I like to give her experiences. I like to watch her grow and develop. I’m glad I was there to cheer her first steps. I’m glad that I’m there to hug her when she takes a fall. I’m glad I have the chance to instill confidence in her abilities and to let her know I love her. I’m glad I worry about how I’m doing as a parent because it means I’m alive and that I care about someone other than myself. Most of all, I love the new dimension my life has gained by her presence and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

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