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Are We Taking Parenting Too Seriously?

2013 January 15

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So I had another post go live on Huffington Post Parents last week. It was a fun life lesson list for Little D and me that talked about everything from not smoking to the importance of math to snacking.

Clearly not thesis material.

I had a lot of great, positive feedback on the piece, which is always nice, but as with anything on the internet, it came with its fair share of abuse, too. Not my first time going down this road, so I have learned how to navigate it and not take the comments to heart (no, I still don’t think my daughter will really ever need the quadratic equation in life and no, that doesn’t mean she is destined for a life of shallow, underwhelming achievements, but I digress…) but it got me thinking:

Are we taking this parenting thing too seriously?

I mean, of course I take my core responsibilities as a parent seriously. I am beyond devoted to loving and nurturing and caring for and educating and watching over my two children 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365…you get the point.

I am on top of every developmental milestone. I am dishing out vitamins each and every morning. I am practicing p’s and q’s. I am handing out praise and jolts of confidence. I am sticking to schedules and checking in with teachers and shopping organic when I can and being paranoid about abduction and school shootings and predators like all the time and driving in the slow lane (when they are in the backseat, that is).

But I am also a big fan of sneaking some chocolate into Little D’s lunch box once in a while. In letting them stay up late, just because. In telling them that I hate zucchini, too. In playing hooky from school once in a blue moon to go to Legoland. In deferring to my husband when questions about the solar system and its properties come up. In not jumping on them for every single missed “thank you” (just most of them). In not always making the right decision and letting them see that.

I always tell my kids that our number one job is “to keep them healthy, safe and happy.” Somehow it deflects most arguments and tantrums. I am doing this or saying this or enforcing this to keep you healthy, safe and/or happy. And I take that job very seriously. But sometimes, as with any responsibility, I think you have to loosen up a bit to get a tighter rein. I think you have to let go to get back. I think you have to realize that as important as it is to ensure your daughter learns about math or science or the solar system, it can be equally as important that she learns the basics about eye brow grooming and schoolyard crushes and how to land an internship.

My goal is to raise children who are confident and smart and empathetic and happy and witty and kind…and yes, sometimes a little silly.

And that doesn’t make me (or them) shallow.

It doesn’t make us frivolous.

It doesn’t mean we take our responsibilities as parents and caretakers with a grain of salt…

We just happen to like a little sugar and spice with it, too.

*photo above via here*

12 Responses leave one →
  1. stella permalink
    January 15, 2013

    Amen, sister.

  2. liz duncan permalink
    January 15, 2013

    There has to be some spice involved, I mean every parent is raising a small version of themselves and their significant other and how crazy is that?
    I’ve was a nanny for about 3 years and I know nothing about real parenting because I have no children, but when I do… I hope I have as much character and passion for my children as you do. Thank you!

  3. January 15, 2013

    Man, I hope I’m this good a parent someday! You’re teaching your kids to be actual people, and having a sense of humor and chillness about life is equally as important as solar system properties. Easily.

  4. January 15, 2013

    Absolutely agree. We should never forget they are children and fun, laughter, sillyness should be encouraged and enjoyed by them and us. There’s plenty of years when the serious stuff will dominate. So lots of sugar and spice in my opinion.

  5. January 16, 2013

    Think this is a beautiful post – it’s reminding me of the balance in parenting … on a particularly difficult morning with a complaining 5 year old. I think a bit of silly-ness is needed this morning!

  6. Lulu permalink
    January 16, 2013

    So right! Parenting has become a career, something serious and intense. Everyone I meet at the school gate constantly trying to second-guess and justify their parenting choices like interns up for a quarterly review. My mom fed us, got us to school, gave us a hug when we were down and other than that didn’t kill herself wondering about her parenting. Let’s try to ease up on ourselves and each other….

  7. January 16, 2013

    Wow! This just shows how you love your kids very much. You are really doing an amazing job with your kids! One of the most important and most difficult things in parenting is finding balance, but you found it effortlessly, with ease, and with lots of happiness. I am very happy for you. 🙂

  8. January 16, 2013

    I have to say, I like this post just as much as I disliked the list. I think your caring, even-handed, serious side was not especially well-represented in that format. Glad to read this one!

    [And in answer to the title question: hardly. It seems like more and more parents are treating their children as superficial accessories to their life. Again, glad you’re not one of them.]

  9. January 16, 2013

    love this.
    i think it’s so important to let our kids see that we’re human – so they can be, too.

    when i start to over-think things i just remind myself that this is supposed to be fun, duh.

    great post.

  10. January 23, 2013


    Recently, after an incident in a parking lot involving a stand-off between my three-year-old and me (which involved a raised voice from me and a lot of screaming, crying, and yelling from him), an anonymous stranger misinterpreted the events and actually called CPS on me. I blogged about the incident here:

    I think I asked myself the same question quite a few times over the course of the days that followed. Are we putting too much pressure on parents to be perfect these days? I think yes.

  11. January 25, 2013

    I’m astonished at some of the comments that I see out there on very big forums like the Huffington Post…I know that everyone is entitled to their opinion, but let’s remember that there is an actual human being that these comments are being flung at. Thank you for your thoughtful and humorous responses to your critics. They could learn something from you!

    • WWGD permalink*
      January 25, 2013

      Aw thanks so much, Debbie. The power that people find within themselves when behind a computer screen can be funny (and frightening) at times…truth is, I am fine with comments and criticism, but only when it comes from a thoughtful, constructive place. Haters I don’t have time for 😉

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