I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Parenting Home Truths

A common complaint I hear from my peers is that their parents had it much easier than they did. This is because "back in the day" parents did not have to deal with the minefield which is the internet, did not over schedule their kids as much as we seem to (much as we pretend to try to avoid it), didn't have the financial pressures we are all collapsing under (hello suffocating mortgage). Life was somehow simpler than it is now, and so we all wander around (and by 'we all' I mean my generation of 30-something parents) and bitch and whine about how hard we've all got it. We're tired. We're stressed. We're broke. We don't know why our kids are fat. Everything is just all so hard, you know? And so on and so forth.

Well, my whining and bitching friends, here's a newsflash for you.

Parenting now is no more or less difficult than it was for our parents. The pressures are different, yes - but the basic idea that parenting became somehow harder or easier over time is a load of crap.

Sure - in their generation, women did not always work and so the pressure of childcare was not as immediate as it is for most of us. But those who did not work in a paid capacity worked a hell of a lot harder in an unpaid capacity. And sure - in their generation, houses were less expensive than they are now - but then salaries were a lot less than they were now, too. Honestly, I think my life is truly insane sometimes. I look at my life and I think, "Geez, I'm exhausted!" - from running a business, and a family, and looking after my health and well being, and in general I think my life is harder because I am trying to achieve way more than my Mom ever did at my age.

Except that...wait a second. At my age, my Mom had three kids, one of whom was my toddler brother. She was working full time in my Dad's law firm (so they were small business owners, too). She was running a household, looking after her own health (which was pretty precarious at the time) and I'm willing to bet she had her own concerns about money and lack of time and being exhausted all the time, too.


Not so different then, is it? Now granted my siblings and I did not have mobile phones, computers, or fifty thousand activities to be shunted to which would have complicated her life. We also did not have food with more chemicals than actual food, did not have a world at war both within it's geographical bounds and within it's celestial bounds. Many, many things about life were simpler then - but parenting, and money, and becoming a grown up - those things have not changed at all. They are as hard or as easy as they ever were, it's just that my generation is a bunch of self-centred brats who think it's all so much harder for them than it was for others. I'm willing to grant that some things might be harder now, especially the rise of the cost of living versus the salaries we get- but I think some things were harder then, too. Consider that same woman who at that time chose to work - like my Mom. How easy was access to childcare for her? Probably not easy at all, and probably expensive proportional to her earning ability. Wait a sec. Same problem AGAIN.

Parenting is hard work no matter what generation you are in. Kids are kids are kids, with their differing personalities, needs, wants, demands, and overall care required being basically the same for generations and generations. Mortgages are mortgages, weight loss still sucks up a lot of time and energy, households still need to be cleaned, dinners need to be cooked, and so on.

Whoever told you that parenting was easy for our parents lied, and whoever told you that we have it harder than they did lied as well. Parenting is, plain and simple, damn hard work. The sooner you accept that, the sooner drinking vodka at noon won't seem so unreasonable.


Claire - Matching Pegs said...

You know, I don't really disagree with you Em...But...

What I think is harder is the level of judgement you can get from peers about your parenting decisions.

I have made some very considered decisions (with Hubby) about supporting my children's burgeoning independence.

Today I was judged, by two different Mothers, about letting my son (9 year old) walk home from school alone(15 - 20 minute walk, which he runs in about 10). Both Mothers felt that it was dicey, and dangerous, and that I am risking his safety.

It kind of hurts.

I suspect there was quite a range of parenting "in the old days" from liberal to authoritarian, but I suspect there was more of an attitude of - your family, your rules.

None of the stuff I let my kids do is radical, but sometimes I start to feel the effects of other people hysteria.

I must admit that the widespread availability of stronger drugs really worries me, but I probably have much more frank discussions about such things with my kids than what went on in the past.

emzeegee & the hungry three said...

Maybe the difference is not the level of judgement, but the level of freedom people feel in expressing that judgement. These days we all share so much via so many mediums - that there is no such thing as 'keeping it to yourself' or 'sparing people's feelings.' Really, is it there business what you let your son do? As long as he's not hurting anyone, I don't think so...but society is such that it allows these people to feel free enough that they can tell you *exactly* how you feel (which of course is flattering on one hand, bloody irritating on the other.) I suspect in my Mom's day, there was as much judgement around but not as many people willing to say it openly.