Westernized Parenting

kidsTake 1 part modern culture and mix it with 2 parts lack of support.  Slowly add lack of sleep, children, and reduce down to limited social time.  What do you get?  The modern, westernized, parent.

OK, I get that this is totally speculation and personal observation – but hear me out.

Let’s say a culture values independence over community.  Let’s say the goal is to be in control.  What does that culture, over time, create?  The United States, of course.  So, now we have people that even when they live one door down from each other, they have no clue who they are.  They don’t speak the same.  They don’t live the same.  They don’t believe the same.  Even if they wanted to meet, they would have nothing in common.  As people grow up, we’re often put into situations that create a close nit group of friends.  What happens when not all of those people are working together, because they had to move away for their jobs?  Makes it harder to make new friends.

Then, you have modern lifestyles and businesses where it is difficult to bring children into the work place.  Factories are no place for children.  It can also be quite difficult to get office work done with children around.  I’m blessed and can bring my children to work, and have worn my babies many times while nursing and finishing up my projects.  But, in reality, it can’t happen with all the jobs modern life requires.  There are some jobs that allow this, and these are the ones close to home – but it just isn’t readily available.  So, you start separating the kids from the parents.

Parents no longer have a community of care givers that know the child to care for them while parents are out gathering food.  Day care doesn’t have the ability to give the children what they really need.  It is hard enough when one person is in charge of 2 little ones, let alone 8-9 all at once.  Oh my!  Why don’t we coordinate the day cares more like family age groups so more people can help out?  Anyway…

So, either dads are working outside the home trying to make enough money to provide for mom and the kids… and the cell phones… and the car payments… and the purses… and the shoes… and the Jones’.  Then, mom is at home by herself, all day, teaching and caring and loving and cleaning and cooking and trying not to go crazy.  Or, both parents are working spending little time with each other.  This builds on the idea that children should have separate lives from their parents, so when families actually do spend time together, they’re miserable.  They’re yelling.  They’re frustrated.  Oh, and oh my if the electronics get taken out of the picture!

So, then women start doing what they do best… talking.  We are social.  We talk.  We communicate.  We’re verbal.  We see the subtle visual cues, but we remedy them with words.  Men are action-takers.  They see the same subtle visual vues, but they try to do something about it.  It is a team effort to balance the reaction.  But, when women get into the mix without someone to balance them out, they can sometimes get out of hand.  Put a screen in front of you without the ability to see subtle clues, and not only are things "heard" wrongly, but women also stop censoring themselves and bringing out hate, instead of love.

That’s where the mommy wars come in.  Let’s totally forget about how our culture has shaped the difficulty of parenting.  Let’s totally forget that each and every one of us struggle.  Let’s totally forget that no one is perfect.   Let’s totally forget that children are cooped up inside too much.  Let’s totally forget what sunshine, fresh air, and a stick can do for the imagination.  Let’s totally forget that nature is a big chunk of the picture, and nurture just shapes the epigenetic traits from biology.  So, moms start bashing other moms.

You don’t spank enough.  You spank too much.  You don’t yell enough.  You yell too much.  You’re permissive.  You’re too strict.  You children are depressed because of the way you parent.  Your children are out of control because of the way you parent.  Remember, there’s a little truth in everything, but let’s not make this about something when what we need to do is get to the root of the problem (and be involved in the solution if we're so inclined to cast the first stone).

Let’s take a new mom, educated about the world of western parenting (not togetherness parenting).  Let’s not teach her how to eat healthy.  Let’s encourage medicated births.  Let’s bring a baby into the world and shove things down their throat that cause discomfort and breast refusal.  Let’s make the beginning of parenting as hard as it can possibly be for the mom.  Then, let’s put dad, the one person she trusts the most, back to work after a week and tell her to figure it out on her own.  Let’s remove the community that used to sit with her ALL day and see how much sleep she gets and if she doesn’t go a little crazy.  Let’s tell her she can have this support, if she pays for it (so, it either doesn’t happen, or dad has to work more to pay for it) - and while great, just doesn't replace the community and friendship she needs.  Let’s put her back to work after 3-6 weeks and see how that works out for everyone.

Then, on top of the fact that we’re not stepping in just to play with the kids, help teach them, take them outside, be INVOLVED in the play and connection BEFORE the kids start acting crazy – let’s tell her it’s HER fault because she isn’t patient enough - as if a magical belief will make her instantly change a lifetime of personality.  Let’s tell her it’s HER fault because she doesn’t care - because, right, parents who parent differently don't care?  Let’s tell her it’s HER fault she has hormonal imbalances.  Let’s tell her it’s HER fault she didn’t quit her job - because what loving mom would ever have kids in this westernized-women-feminist-working society?  It’s HER fault she chose a husband that wasn’t supportive enough to also stay home and change his magically change his lifetime of personality.  It’s HER fault dad works too much so she does all the parenting on her own… HER fault she doesn’t believe parenting should be amazing because she's tired, depressed, craving a friend and support, … HER fault for everything – or even a big chunk of the picture.

Come on… let’s get real.  Let’s look at what has really happened.  We’ve created an independent culture.  We’ve created a culture where it is kind of difficult to parent happily.  Of course, everything is always worth it!   And while there are so many wonderful things that we have received from this type of culture, the family unit is no longer the focus.  There are certainly groups that are this close, that do help, that do have that community – and I bet things are a little bit easier for them.  They may have similar feelings, but they have help controlling those feelings.  For those that might not have good, close, friends, parenting doesn’t come so easy.  The togetherness and living with people that have the same beliefs as you is no longer the focus.  Then, when parenting is hard, the connection between the parent and the child suffers, and this cycle continues.

Find support.  Try to find friends.  Try to be involved in your community.  I know this can be very hard to do – but just being in a casual child-friendly environment with other families is really important to health and happiness.  Next time you're in a setting like this, think about how you can help.  Don’t start with the disciplining of other children – but start with playing with other children.  Talk about this approach next time you meet for a play date.  Schedule a mom's night out, and then use your play dates for helping each other through the normalcies of the day. Try to get together often enough that your personal social needs are met, so you can help entertain the children and prevent the areas that need redirection and discipline - BEFORE people get annoyed and upset.

What do you think?  How do you think our independent culture has shaped parenting?