The best outcome for your kids — best best, with no meaningful challengers — is for them to find a place in life that feels right to them based on their skills, their temperaments and their passions. That some of your kids’ A’s slip to B’s and some of their peers run/swim/flip/play/dance/sculpt/sing better is not even remotely an obstacle to this outcome. After all, those everyone-else’s-kids getting all the awards will get their butts kicked, too, probably as soon as they move on to the next level of competition.
This is Offbeat Families's archive of parenting choices posts.
My husband and I freely cop to having used television as a coping method. As two working parents with up to three hours of commute time each per day, free time to clean the house, cook meals, or attempt a conversation is seriously lacking. So, for about a half hour on weekday mornings and around half hour to 45 minutes in the evening on those days, we'd turn on the Roku and let our three-year-old kiddo watch Wonder Pets, '60s-era Spider-Man, or any other variety of parental-approved idiot box entertainment while we powered through chores and tried to plot out each day.
We want so much for our kids, don't we? We want them to have what we wanted when we were younger, we want them to participate in life and enjoy every waking moment. We want them to learn, grow, thrive. We want their dreams to be sweet, we want the world to be kind to them. I think we end up feeling that if we throw money at our bag of wishes and wants for our children, somehow it will come to fruition. If we do THIS wonderful thing, THEN we'll get that wonderful result.
But we worry, don't we, about what people think? Even parents of the easiest children contend with the occasional wicked tantrum, or a disaster of an eating out attempt, or a terrible diaper blow-out in the airport. Here I am, you think. With my pants down and all my dirty laundry hanging out.
As a child of immigrants I ended up bilingual pretty much by default. My parents are from Taiwan and China, so I grew up speaking Mandarin Chinese with them and speaking English with my older sister and at school. Although I dreaded going to Chinese School on Sundays as a child, by the time I left for college I recognized the benefits of being bilingual and I knew even then that I would want my future children to be the same.
I want my daughter to see that I am happy with my life now. I want her to understand on a fundamental level that she deserves happiness, too. And, I want her to be able to handle life's obstacles as a confident and capable individual… Preferably one who doesn't grow up to live in my basement.
I was the parent who kept my kids as safe as possible. Barring the few seconds I couldn't watch my daughter as she scurried up to new heights, my kids kept their feet firmly on the ground. They never had a chance to explore and learn on their own. It could be argued that the kids might get hurt, but don't we all take that chance? If I could do it all over again, I would raise free-range kids.
Michelle, the blogger at Crooked Fences recently spent some time pondering the idea of a "slacker" parent — in her definition, this is akin to free-range parenting. She observed that many parents espousing free-range ideas also tend to be white and middle-to-upper class… and that this is a problem.