Parenting is a tough gig. We all know that. Even those who are not parents know that because the parents bang on about it all the time, myself included! But are we over thinking this gig? Are we trying to raise the perfect children in an imperfect world? It seems we are trying to cross all our T’s and dot our I’s and navigate the smoothest path into adulthood for our offspring, a rainbow filled path of fairy dust and unicorns.
We worry and over-think every parenting choice along the way, often questioning our instincts and comparing ourselves to parents everywhere. From what to eat and what not to eat when pregnant to the breastfeed/bottle feed debate. Routine or demand? Cloth or disposable? To co-sleep or not? Baby wearing or pram? It seems there is always something we need to Google or reference to help make our decisions. We second guess ourselves and worry about every minute thing from what pram to buy to what stimulation a baby needs. We worry about milestones and the black and white pages of parenting books and baby forums. What if I’m not doing it right? What if I’m doing it too wrong?
Which school? Private or public? Montessori?
What age? Is 5 too young? 6 too old? Will they get left behind? Get bored?
Are we over scheduling our child? Underscheduling? Offering enough exposure to extra-ciricular activities?
Am I helicoptering? Am I too careless? Not there enough? Work too little? Work too much?
Should they have a tutuor? Johnny does.
Must throw the perfect birthday party. With matching invitations, home made creations from Pinterest and personalised activities and menus for each child according to their likes and needs. Must out do Lucy’s party.
Do they have the ‘right’ friends? Are they confident? Worrying about body image? Are they shy? Too introverted? Too bossy?
Am I spoiling them? Am I mollycoddling them? Am I too tough? Too strict?
And all of this before our child is eight years old?
Then the real concerns begin, heading towards tween and teenage-hood where our children turn into creatures of the deep with storm clouds over their heads and split personality syndrome. A time when they are influenced by every person around them including those they know and don’t know. Where they consume, with ravenous hunger social media, the internet and photo-shopped images and music laced with overtones of sex and drugs.
Yes I could go on, but I won’t because I’ve had enough!
I have had enough over-thinking this parenting thing. Of comparing my parenting and life choices to that of my peers and my forefathers. Of Googling my instincts instead of listening to them? Of worrying what another parent will think? Of worrying about the what if’s?
Parenting is a learning journey. It’s not one you can get right or wrong (I’m talking in a general sense here, of course you can do it wrong but that’s another story). What I believe is that in the long run it won’t matter if I ate Camembert one time when I was pregnant? It won’t matter how long I did or didn’t breastfeed. It won’t matter if my child does ten after school activities or none. It won’t matter if I let my daughter walk home from school or picked her up. It’s not important if I was on the PTA or dance committee. If they did too much or too little. None of it really matters.
All that will matter is the unconditional love and support I have shown them. The teaching of manners, of respect, of hard work and of enjoying little moments. What will matter is the guidance in knowing right from wrong and the value in learning from mistakes. The learning through lessons that failure is an important part of life. And the importance of respecting and believing in oneself.
This parenting gig doesn’t need to be all that hard. It’s just that we over think it.