Has Parenting Become More Difficult?
I often recount days from my childhood and describe them as being simple times. My dance recital was in the gym where I took Parks & Rec ballet. I wore my leotard and ballet shoes and performed in front of the moms of the other 14 kids in my class. I spent summer afternoons playing baseball in my court with the neighbourhood kids. In the winter we built snow forts.
I went to camp but never all summer. The sessions I didn’t attend, I mostly spent watching t.v. and playing outside.
I ate tons of KD and AlphaGhetti.
My birthday parties were in our unfinished basement, and usually included a game or a movie and pizza. Done.
My life was what by today’s standards would be considered very no frills.
I think I went to one or two birthday parties my whole childhood that weren’t in the birthday boy or girl’s house. I didn’t know anyone who did competitive anything, and while some of my friends did go to dance schools with costumes and staged recitals, none of them took multitudes of classes.
Times sure have changed. And blogger Megan Spreer says expectations have too, and it’s making it so much harder for parents.
“When I was a kid, I remember spending my days eating Spaghetti-Os, watching marathons of Muppet Babies, and playing outside for hours and hours with no adult in sight. You know what that's considered now? Neglect,” Spreer says. Muppet Babies was a personal favourite of mine too. But I digress.
In her blog, “5 ways we’re making parenting harder,” Spreer says fancy, expensive birthday parties, holiday ‘traditions’ like Elf on the Shelf, organic everything, the proliferation of kids’ sporting activities and the inspiring yet daunting existence of Pinterest all serve to make us parents strive for the unnecessarily difficult.
Can’t argue with her there. I say I don’t kowtow to the expectations of today, but who am I kidding. My son’s 1st birthday party had a Very Hungry Caterpillar theme. If this was 30 years ago, the theme most likely would have just been ‘birthday party.’
Elf on a Shelf? Is the fun of moving that little spy every day to excite children leading up to the holidays really necessary? Maybe it’s just me but when I was a kid, my friends started looking forward to the holidays in January anyway.
I have nothing against organics. I really don’t. But Spreer is right. “there's even organic diaper bags. Seriously? We really need the bag that carries my kid's poopy diapers to be organic? Are we eating it later?” Back in my day, before we became more enlightened, we may have drank Hi-C and Tang like it was going out of style but we knew to eat our fruits and veggies too. I guess back then, if it didn’t come in a can or a packet it was considered organic.
And Pinterest? Don’t’ even get me started. I didn’t realize how incompetent of a homemaker, baker, cook, home decorator and parent I was until Pinterest. Yes, I’ve learned how to make easy 5 ingredient recipes, which is helpful. But did I need to know that there was 45 different ways to make Very Hungry Caterpillar themed foods for my son’s first birthday? No, I didn’t. Because my feeble attempt at making just two of them felt like a cop out. And I felt cheap and lazy not going out to buy the red and green paper lanterns to hang on the ceiling to complement the theme. Thanks to Pinterest, even having a theme made me feel inferior by not having it be exhaustive.
I’m sure if I ask my mother, she’ll tell me that raising me in the early 80s was plenty hard. But without internet, there were no forums filled with moms telling you you’re doing it wrong, or news research stories telling you how doing it wrong will screw up your kids.
And there were no Martha Stewart-esque sites that offered a million and one ways to make your house and kids so much cooler. Back in my day, parents went about their business and only had their mom groups and neighbours to judge and influence. Now it seems like we have the world looking in our windows to judge what we do and offer a glimpse into their own so we can be impressed by what they do.
I think for my daughter's 5th birthday, I'll have a retro theme. We'll pin the tail on the donkey, do a craft and eat pizza in our unfinished basement. I'll put pictures up on Pinterest; maybe inspire a new trend.