Is it just me, or is parenting becoming more and more professionalized each day? Parents are expected to have an incredible amount of knowledge and expertise in child-rearing, and the parental perfection we are supposed to be striving for seems harder and harder to achieve. (In no small part, because the "experts" in the profession of parenting hardly agree on anything, making this profession a mightily confusing, in addition to it's other charms).
*** Do you read to your kids? How many books per day? Do you do finger rhymes and sing songs together on a daily basis? Are you being sure to grab every available educational opportunity? Turn off that TV and do some crafts. Not colouring books, or other such creativity killing activities, mind you. You don't want to stunt their creative engagement with the world around them.
Are you providing enough brain stimulating and engaging activities? Not too many - kids need "free range" too! Overscheduling is bad, bad, bad for kids. So, apparently is underscheduling. So make sure you schedule your kids just right!
And how about their nutrition? Are you consistently providing whole grain-organic-perfectly balanced-meals and snacks using all fo the colours of the rainbow, following Canada's Food Guide, and using every opportunity to create teachable opportunities about health and food consumption? What? Kids won't eat that stuff? No problem - just learn the art of fruit and vegetable and sandwich carving. Make happy faces with tomatoes and olives and build architecturally sound buildings out of home-made bread, granola, and brussels sprouts. And make sure to serve all this glorious food, nay, art on BPA free, re-useable, re-cycleable dinnerware. And while we're on the topic of dessert - no sugar boys and girls. Cavities! Childhood obesity! Hyper-activity disorders! Sleep disruption! Do you know nothing? And you should also make sure to avoid salt, additives, anything fried, anything with unpronounceable words in the ingredients list and any sort of convenience food.
Make sure your children receive plenty of physical activity! At least two hours per day. Every day. But while doing so, please be sure to remember the abovementioned instructions about scheduling and overscheduling. Not too many activities outside the home. (Perhaps Junior can march on the spot while you do dishes?)
Your children must receive adequate amounts of sleep! Sleep deprivation in children can cause all kinds of horrible problems later in life. What's that? Your child doesn't sleep? Tsk. That's probably your fault. Remember - healthy sleep habits will serve them a lifetime!
Emotional growth is so important. DO NOT under any circumstances - hurt your child's feelings. Try to minimize the use of the word "no" BUT make sure to set clear, healthy boundaries. Always follow through on appropriate consequences. Make sure your child always feels safe enough to express their feelings BUT don't let them run the show! You're in charge! But for God's sake, don't yell, scream or otherwise carry-on. You could scar them for life. Instill empathy without teaching your child to live for other people's feelings. Be sure to instill plenty of self-esteem and pride, but be careful not to overpraise!
Knowledge = the key the world. If you want your kids to get ahead in life, make sure they know the alphabet and shapes, at least a few simple algebraic equations before entering kindergarten. BUT make sure you don't put too much pressure on them. Pressure can stunt their emotional growth, and besides, you wouldn't want them to be bored at school afterall, because boredom in school leads to gateway drugs, casual sex and all kinds of shenanigans that you, as a parent, will be responsible for.
Immunize! Don't immunize! Use flouride! Don't use flouride! Bug bites carry terrible diseases but Deet causes seizures! Exposure to sun causes cancer, but wait - sunscreen causes cancer! And for goodness sake, watch out for parabens, phthalates, scraps of teflon ready to jump out of your frying pan, and other dangerous lurking chemicals. They're out there...you know, lurking.
Above all - make the dangers lurking around every corner cannot reach your children. BUT - don't be a helicopter parent. Everyone hates a hover-er. ***
ACK!!!! SPLUTTER!!!! MWAHHHH!!!!!!
Now, I take my job as a parent pretty freaking seriously. I'm into this whole thoughtful and reflective parenting business. I work hard at it, and my kiddies (and their physical, emotional and social growth) are certainly the most important thing on my radar most days. But the things is: I'm not actually a therapist, or a nutritionist or a pre-school or phys-ed teacher. (Moreover, I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to be any of those things). I'm a mama. Just a mama. Doing the best I can on any given day, with the resources I have at hand (which some days are better than others, let's be clear). All the pressure to be the best parent, to raise the perfect kids is immense, all pervasive and pretty much freaking impossible. I'm exhausted just writing about it! It's enough to put a mama, this mama at least, in the mad-house.