KIRSTEN BALDOCCHI DISCUSSES THE RECENT SHIFT WITHIN PARENTING
Despite living in an era of access to instant information about every aspect of child- rearing, today’s parents are left feeling anything but reassured. Instead many feel overwhelmed and anxious; unable to overcome the unique challenges involved in modern- day parenting.
Historically, children were an economic asset and worked to contribute towards family income. However, children today spend their time in school instead of at work. The balance has shifted, with more time, effort and expense for parents. Furthermore, the roles of parents have also changed. Many women are now employed and have less time to spend at home. However, they also spend more time actively teaching and playing with their kids than in the past. Fathers also spend more time with their children than they did in previous generations, following a cultural shift towards “involved fathering” and participation in more primary childcare activities.
Sadly, this shift towards increased parental involvement isn’t benefitting our kids. Research indicates that there is no relationship between parental engagement and behavioural or emotional problems, or academic outcomes in young children. Many parents are exhausting themselves with intensive parenting practices which are not achieving the expected results. Often, this is even more true for the growing number of parents who delay having children until they are “ready” – with a secure job, home and partner. When we purposely wait for the perfect time, it creates even more pressure to get it right.
The demands of parenting might be easier to bear if we knew exactly what to prepare our kids for. With rapidly developing technology the possibilities for our children appear endless. In response, parents have internalised the expectation that they are responsible for their child’s happiness. The trouble is that happiness is not a skill that can be learnt and is impossible to guarantee, even with the best intentions. It is important for parents to realise that while happiness can be the by-product of other things, it cannot and should not be a goal in itself.
FOR MORE INFO
Read more from Kirsten about parenting on Highbury’s blog: www.hps.co.za/blog
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