The Evolution of Parenting: Five Biggest Challenges Faced by Parents Today
Believe it or not, good parenting, parenting styles and general child care are actually a relatively new phenomenon. The scientific interest in parenting or what is the best mode to raise a child’ has come about in recent years.
The responsibility of raising healthy, happy, well-adjusted kids can sometimes feel overwhelming for parents. They’re bombarded with expert advice and societal expectations, yet often miss out on the informal support that parents half a century ago received from neighbours and extended family.
We often ask ourselves why is it so hard to parent today? Was it always difficult?
Whatever the answers may be, there is no doubt that the standards of “good parenting” have changed dramatically.
According to Diane Wagenhals, Director of the Parenting Resource and Education Network, forty or more years ago, good parents were those who taught their children to be mannerly, respectful and responsible. They were more concerned about the basics, such as food and shelter.
Supplementary questions such as ‘Is my child dressed appropriately? Did they sit up straight? Are they provided with a balanced diet and regular vaccinations’ were rarely considered.
Perhaps your parents and grandparents had different approaches to raising children than you are currently using. Their ways were not necessarily ‘bad’ but simply different because due to a rather different cultural and social scenario.
In order to understand the difficulties and challenges facing parents today, we must understand the greater complexity and changed dynamics that are involved.
Balancing family and career
We often feel torn between professional and parenting responsibilities. When we are focusing on one, we feel like we are neglecting the other! This is a common dilemma for today’s parents, who often have packed schedules.
There are so many demands on today’s parents, it is a challenge for them to carve out and deliver the gift of time on a regular basis. Likewise, too many kids have packed after-school schedules, which leave them with little time to simply BE with their parents and siblings, preparing a meal together, doing household chores, enjoying each other’s company.
Being afraid to say ‘NO’
We all want our kids to like us. But we need to learn that we don’t need to say “yes” to everything. Sometimes a “no” or a “maybe” is the better response to avoid the sense of entitlement that so many kids have today.
A culture of blame
There is so much pressure to have the best sleeper, the earliest toilet trained, the smartest kid, the cutest kid, and so on. There is so much pressure to breastfeed, feed nutritious meals, stay active, and so on. I think this results in parents rushing to make bad parenting decisions and feeling guilt over not being able to do everything perfectly.
Ensuring children receive a quality education
The economic situation has created a lot of pressure on parents to earn enough money to meet the rising costs of education. Then there is the added pressure parents feel in making sure their kids succeed in school so that they have a competitive edge when they graduate and move into the job market. Too much pressure isn’t healthy for parent-child relationships.
Overload of information
In a generation exposed to so much information about how to parent their kids, parents struggle with finding their own unique way of parenting. Parents are a lot more educated than previous generations but sometimes it can lead to information overload with several differing points of views on the same topic. There is no ’one size fits all’ mantra and with such conflicting advice out there, it leaves parents wondering which choice is the best.
The biggest challenge for parents is slowing down. Modern society puts so much emphasis on productivity and activity. If we could all slow down, think of all the creative win-win situations we could create with our children. Think about it. When your child is struggling over putting his shoes on and you’re running late. Or, when they want to stay on the playground but you have to leave so you make dinner so they can have time to do homework and get baths and still be in bed on time. The time crunch is truly a pressure cooker that makes it challenging for parents to live in the moment and just enjoy their children.
The lines that follow, which we read somewhere, best describe this situation:
Let them be little because they are only that way for a little while,
Give them hope, give them praise
Give them love everyday.
Let the cry, let them giggle
Let them sleep in the middle.
Oh! Just let them be little.