Thursday, August 4, 2011

Too Much Parenting? Or Too Much Nonsense?

I was tempted to write this post in ALL CAPS. I am so tired of reading things like this, I could actually scream:
I believe that the goal should change from making children happy and protecting them from harm to raising them to be independent adults able to problem-solve and cope in the real and sometimes difficult adult world. A safety net can become a trap. Dependence on one’s parents means lack of real security and often results in low self-esteem, depression and anxiety.
It's nonsense. Someone has written another book about how kids these days never grow up, and how it's all the parents' fault for being too helpful, too involved, too available. Read more about it here. Apparently, parents need to set more boundaries, have higher expectations, force independence at a younger age. The goal of parenting should be independence instead of happiness?! Dependence leads to low self-esteem?! Security makes us feel insecure?! I disagree.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think parents should hover anxiously around their children and never allow independence. Let me remind you there IS a third option. You don't have to choose between forcing independence and never allowing it. Between removing the safety net and using it as a trap. The third option looks like knowing your child, talking to your child, respecting the level of independence your child wishes to have. It looks like making that safety net available, and using it properly so it doesn't trap your child. I wrote about this kind of thing in Choosing Your Guide.

I wonder if it is ok with these expert-types if I'm dependent on anyone at all. Is it ok that I depend on my husband for companionship, financial support, help with raising our children? That I depend on my babysitter to watch my children when I work? That I depend on my siblings for entertainment, for help moving heavy things, and for all kinds of other things? I'm not independent. I depend on many people for many different things. Should I be ashamed of this? Because I'm not.

Here I am with the eleven other people I depend on most.

I am not ashamed that two of the people I am dependent on happen to be my parents, the two people who have known me and supported me my whole life, have given me incredible and countless gifts, and continue to love me unconditionally.

I'm 29 years old, and I talk to or text with both of my parents on a daily basis. I have moved back into their house several times since I graduated from college, most recently for about 6 months, with my husband and our infant daughter. And I would consider moving back in there again. They even lend me or (gasp!) give me money sometimes. Does that mean there is something wrong with me?

If it's acceptable to have any friends at all, and to ever depend on these friends, then why shouldn't this group of friends include my parents? And why shouldn't I aim to be friends with my children?

Why shouldn't my goal be to help my children be happy and protect them? Why can't independence come out of a loving, supportive relationship?