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Uptight and anxious parenting...

What I should be doing right now...

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What I have been doing instead...

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Obviously, that's not me browsing the net - she's far too perky and no where near myopic enough - she doesn't have the haggard look of a bedraggled hausfrau, like me...

Anyway, on my browsing travels a few things I've read have started to tangle up with one another in my brain and got me thinking about parenting and parenting styles and all the stuff that worries parents...

First I saw this article which suggests that even having the TV on in the background around children (who are not actively watching the set) is detrimental to their development. So, when Australian parents are recommended to have no television for children under two, that means that while the child is awake, the television simply should not be on. One hour a day for 2-12 or two hours a day for 12-18 year olds means the same for the parents while those children are awake. Think about how long your average 16 year old is awake and do the math...

Television viewing is just one way in which parents can damage their children. Obviously processed foods, particularly fast foods, come to mind. Balancing not get enough sun with getting too much sun is another juggling act of parenting. The list goes on, and this is just for your average run-of-the-mill non-religious and non-idealistic parent.

Then I saw these fun videos...



...and...



I've witnessed most of these scenarios in my parenting life - and said a lot of these things myself! Yes, I've been totally crunchy. Now that the kids don't breastfed, co-sleep or require assistance getting about in an efficient manner, I do less visible crunchy stuff... But yep, for the idealistic parent, life can be pretty anxiety inducing.

Having gained almost 13 years of parenting experience now, the only thing I regret about my choices is heaping so much pressure on myself to be The Best Parent™. Living in fear of damaging my children may have damaged my children...

Okay, that's an overstatement, but I do wonder if all the anxiety about what they eat, what they watch, what they play with and come in contact with physically, mentally or spiritually isn't a new crisis we modern day parents are heaping on our children...

Remember how we all used to um-ahhhh! about 'olden day parents' who whipped their children with sapling branches because the child spoke out of turn and the parent was deathly afraid the child would be ruined if left to believe that was okay?

Yes, well, I have to wonder if 'having a talk' with your three year old because she 'harmed' your one year old by calling her baby brother a 'good boy' isn't akin to whipping a child for speaking out of turn.

In our grand quest to bring up Completely Whole Children™, might we not be causing different kinds of damage by ostracising them from society into sub-cultures where they can only play with 'natural, organic materials' and eat 'natural, organic foods they have grown or killed themselves'. Is not letting a child see their grandparent because the grandparent prefers to use disposable nappies when caring for the child, or the grandparent lets slip the odd bit of praise taking 'good parenting' too far?

Are our children our own little sociological experiments where we set out to prove that our way will lead to 'better, stronger, more individual people'?

Do children benefit from parents who take controlling their child's environment into obsession territory?

Are we perhaps raising anxious children who fear fuming plastics, buying anything new, chucking paper in the 'regular bin instead of the recycling', who baulk at food outside their own home incase it contains 'poison' (additives/preservative/pesticides), who can't play with the kid they met at the park because he has a toy gun and he's wearing a tee shirt with a cartoon character on it!

Anxiety is rampant in our society, new disorders, such as hoarding, are being recognised every year. We try to avoid medicating our children when they are small, but are we setting them up to need medicating in adulthood?

Are you an anxious parent?

Comments

Jayne said…
Cringe!! God I hope I never sounded like such a self satisfied wanker as that woman sounds! LOL. Had to laugh at the expressing though-that was me!And I have been known to talk about '4 year weaning averages'.LOL.

I definitely have a hippy side, but no I wouldn't say I'm an anxious parent. I'm not particularly 'crunchy' either. Even though I do have both spirulina and coconut oil in my pantry ;) I'm a go with the flow parent...aka 'slack mum' much of the time. Partly to save my own sanity. Partly because my anxious parents did my head in and I'm determined not to pass my anxieties on to my kids...well too much. I think respecting kids as people alongside providing a loving environment with the basics accounted for (food, shelter as per Maslow) is the only parenting rule. All the rest is preference.

It's taken me 10+ years to figure that one out LOL
Jayne said…
Also-I think admonishing a child for 'praising' their young sibling is just sad. And I've seen it too on 'crunchy' forums. FFS. Same goes for now allowing kids around their loving extended family because *shock* they might allow them screen time or a non organic plastic BPA filled toy!!

*rolls eyes*
Jayne said…
*not allowing. You know, I buy as much organic food as I can afford, so I'm not knocking that at ALL-what annoys me and saddens me is when I see it being taken to extremes where the child is actually deprived of healthy social/emotional contact and expressing themselves. THAT sucks.
bek said…
According to pretty much everyone (husband inclusive) I'm apparently not anxious enough. Has something to do with I have good hearing so I know what's going on by sound and by feel and therefore don't feel the need to be practically on top of them in everything they do.

I grew up watching tv and now don't watch tv at all. If I took any childhood developmental damage I'd attribute it more to inheriting anger issues and being whacked with the wood end of a feather duster for misdemanours (not that I was an unhappy abused child mind you, growing up was awesome, it was "just how things are done round these here parts" when it came to child discipline). I suppose I could attempt to pin my tendency towards slightly dark grittiness on tv but I think I was always like that :)

Not discounting the studies, but I'd agree that being stressy and overanxious about all those things that could potentially damage your kids is more damaging than most of the things you're worried about :)

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