As a former teacher, it was impossible to not compare my own childhood and education to that of my students’. The same can be said as a parent–namely, “Will my kid get as good an education as I did?” And of course, there’s always the underlying thought, “Please, God in heaven, please don’t let me screw this up!”
Yeah, parenting is no joke, and as many parenting magazines and books as there are out there, it still remains an absolute mystery. Now, one parenting expert believes he may know the answer: the parental mission statement.
Last month in his syndicated column, John Rosemund, a family psychologist, author and speaker, said, “Without a mission statement, [parents] are likely to zig and zag all over the playing field, wasting lots of energy and time on things that are ultimately unimportant if not counterproductive.”
Wait a minute! You mean to say, Dr. Rosemund, that some parents today are just winging it, not really having a clue as to what they ultimately want to accomplish beyond the basic “keep them alive”?
Rosemund further explains, “They are parenting by their bootstraps, taking it a day at a time. That’s no way to run a business, and it’s no way to raise a child either.” You don’t say.
While I hate to compare rearing my twin girls to running a major company (both are equally exhausting and rewarding, I suppose), there are days when I feel as if I–we–are just surviving. There’s a lot of fun in the midst of the chaos, but those real, teachable moments just seem to slip to the surface, certainly not planned. This leaves me feeling worthless as a mother.
Ah, but Rosemund addresses that too, saying, “The zigging and zagging produces lots of stress. I think it’s safe to say that today’s parents, especially moms, are one stressed-out bunch.” Shine a spotlight on me, why don’t you, doc?
The good news, though, is that maybe parenting doesn’t have to feel this way. Rosemund believes our great-grandparents weren’t flying by the seats of their pants and stressed out like we are today. He says, “They approached child-rearing in a calm, casual, straightforward fashion.”
So, according to Rosemund, we are engaged in a long-term project–roughly 18 years or so in the initial stages–called parenting. And while we might hope to raise a “happy and healthy child,” he recommends we consider the bigger picture–just like Great Grandma did. He says, “Back then, parents felt their obligation was to their neighbors and ultimately to their culture.” They wanted to raise responsible citizens.
For me, I believe there’s got to be a balance. While yes, parents today can coddle (ahem) and hover over their children, creating little narcissistic beings, I do want to have more of a connection to my girls than prior generations did with theirs. I want to raise them to be responsible citizens and find out what they were created to be and do.
Now to write a mission statement for that.