“Extreme” Parenting?


Am I the only one who has noticed that American culture seems to have gone “extreme”? There seems to be an “all or nothing” mentality going around and I just don’t get it. To me, common sense dictates that not every situation calls for these extreme reactions. While writing This She’ll Defend, I gave Carmen many of the same parenting issues that I have faced in my life, but obviously not all of them. But last night I read a blog that really had me thinking.

The blog was from a mom who has made the decision that her elementary aged children will not do homework. She shared with her readers the letter that she sends to school each year informing the teacher that her child will not be participating in homework. The reasoning she offers is that children need time to play. To explore. To sleep at night. To eat. OK, obviously I won’t argue that. Yes, children need time to play, explore, eat, and sleep. I doubt we would find a reasonable person who would disagree with those assertions.

Here is why I think this is an extreme approach to take. In thinking back to when my two were in elementary school, I felt that it was important to introduce life skills that they would need later . They were frequently out playing with other kids in the neighborhood, but they always got their homework done too. It was never excessive, and if I’d thought it was a problem I would have handled the problem as it came up. But, to take a preemptive strike and just announce to the teacher that my child would not be doing homework? Not likely. First of all, what is my child going to do in class while the other kids are reviewing their homework? Is this fair to the other children in class who don’t bring in homework, but have a consequence from the teacher for it? Isn’t school a preparation for life in some ways? We all have things we don’t enjoy doing that are responsibilities of our job. I think there is a balance to everything in life that we, as parents need to find. But swooping in like this seems extreme.

There is no such thing as a perfect parent. I think we put too much pressure on ourselves to be, and I don’t intend this as a criticism of this woman’s mothering skills. It is more an observation that I’ve seen more of this trending lately, and I feel like we are missing out on the “responsibility” component when we try to eliminate anything unpleasant from our children’s experiences. Even done with the best of intentions, I think it sends a message that, “If I don’t like it, my mom is going to fix it so that I don’t have to do it.”

I’d love to hear your opinion on this. Agree, disagree, whatever. We are all in this parenting thing together.

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