Are we overthinking parenting?

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By Sabrina Almeida

Ever feel that we are all on a never-ending quest to become the perfect parents? We could be on to something here that might be quite liberating both for us and our kids. I have often heard people say that parenting seemed simple enough when they were growing up. Meaning their parents didn’t appear to stress over every move their children made.

Kids went to school, competed in sports and played out on the street without mum or dad hovering around them. Yet they appear to be successful, well-adjusted adults. We seemed to lead the balanced lives that we are painstakingly trying to establish for our kids today.

The problem? Nowadays we have a theory about everything which makes it so complicated and stressful. I’ve noticed my mum raise her eyebrows at my handling of certain situations and I can understand why.
As first time parents, we are probably the biggest strategizers. We want to map out our child’s whole future till the second one comes along and teaches us a lesson. You learn to go with the flow, something our parents always seemed to know!

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I recall not wanting my mum to sing certain nursery rhymes to my first born because they didn’t have positive messages. I also made a conscious effort to avoid negatives such as saying “please remember” instead of “don’t forget”. It didn’t work!

My kids “forgot” personal belongings, homework and instructions much more than I ever did as a child. Which leads me to conclude that perhaps mum’s parenting techniques were way more effective than mine.

As first-timers, the Zuckerberg family is no different. Priscilla Chan’s recent comment that she and Mark Zuckerberg won’t let their daughter have a Facebook account till she turns 13 drew a few chuckles from some seasoned parents. They were of course going by the book. While there is nothing wrong with that, the more experienced ones know that there is no rule or encyclopedia that will help you stick to the plan. All you can do is take one day at a time. If we knew then what we have stumbled upon along the way, parenting might have been a bit easier on us and the kids as well.

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Perhaps it’s time to practise “organic” parenting. Without the ideology and psychology we try to feed and fertilize it with.

As I scoured the Internet to determine if this concept was already in play… it firmed my belief that we have really gone off the deep end about the ideal way to raise children.

My search led me to several websites that used this term or something similar. All of them dished out plenty of advice on nurturing with love, respect and discipline. Going back to basics in a sense, but not the way I envisaged. I am not sure what was more shocking, the fact that we needed to be provided with a blueprint or that our parents did it all without one. It was logical to them and therefore natural. We, on the other hand, have to program ourselves. Really commit to it!

The only disagreement might be around how they handled “discipline”. They didn’t mind physical tweaks while we try to be ideological. What works better? The answers lie around us.

An article in The Guardian which referred to the new trend of being an “imperfect parent” was particularly heartening. Imagine a world where you and your kids didn’t have to be camera ready all the time. Or the perfect role models for others in the family and neighbourhood to emulate. What a relief, right?

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We only have ourselves to blame for this perfection we seek from ourselves and our kids. Movies like “Bad Moms” though laughable are not far from the truth. The more we stress about getting it right and doing it all, the less it seems to work. A good test might be to ask the kids what they think! I’m kidding, they don’t know what’s good for them even when they are 20, right?

Next time you have an issue with your kids, ask mum or dad what they would do. I am quite certain they will have a solution right away. One that might be more effective because it comes from practical experience. It’s not laced with the modern psychological mumbo jumbo that ties everyone up in knots rather than solve the problem.

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