Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Why does parenting seem harder than it used to be?

Parenting was never meant to be a one or two person job.  If you look at the history of parenting you will see that it used to be done by the whole community.  The old proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” really is true. 

Parents need support in order to stay sane and not feel tired and neglected.  It seems like in the last 100 years or so the support has dwindled more and more.  We started with the support from the community or “village” then moved to it being a family matter.  That family included included aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins.  The next stage of parenting was the nuclear family – which some are still lucky enough to have.  This means that you have one parent that works full time and one that is home full time.  Today’s families are very different.  Most families are either single parent homes or both parents work full time with extended family living far away and community at a distance. 

This is not a commentary on what kind of family you have and I am by no means suggesting that you should quit your job to stay home or move closer to your family so they can help.  I am just saying that as parents we need to recognize that our children’s needs are important but they are not more important than OUR own needs.  At times our children’s needs might be more immediate but we must stop neglecting our own need for community, support and relaxation. 

Here are a few things anyone can do to begin to build up the support you need.
  • Make a list of people that you can call on for support 
  • Make a list of people that you could begin to build relationships with.  Then talk to them. 
o   Maybe it’s another family that has similar parenting styles as you.  You could swap nights out with them.  You take their kids once a month and they take your kids.
o   Maybe there is a 10 year old down the street that would make a great mommy or daddy helper.  You could pay them a little to come and “play” with your kids while you rest and relax in your own home for a few hours. 
o   Maybe you have a friend that loves kids but does not have any of their own and would like to make some kind of swap with them so you can get away for a few hours. 

The important thing is to recognize that you need some time to yourself and as a couple so that you are at your best for your children.  Constantly running on empty will not help your child in any way.  Find something that refresh and rejuvenates you and remember that when our own needs are screaming at us it is very hard to hear our children’s needs. 

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