Having the Caillou post go viral and receive nearly 1 million views in under a week brought up a lot of issues that have been on my mind. Trolls aside, commenters were from two basic camps that I’m generalizing here: those that believe we should push kids to learn to make their own decisions versus those who believe that it’s a parent’s job to be there to provide guidance for every decision a child faces. Neither is wrong, they are different parenting styles. However, the discussion does bring up the challenge that our current generation of parents is facing with pressures from both sides.
I mostly adhere to the cliche of “everything in moderation”. For me, it’s all about creating the best balance you can achieve. That goes for parenting, too. I want to be at home with my kids, but I also want to provide for them so that we can travel, enroll them in sports and other activities, and set them up for the future financially. It’s been the toughest challenge of my life to achieve this balance, particularly since my kids’ needs change with their development and so must the balance. For me, it meant dropping my former job and running a business from home to create the freedom that I need to be there for my kids physically, emotionally, and financially. Being a work-from-home mom isn’t for everyone, but its how we achieve the balance that our family needs. Sure, some families have a parent at home full-time while others have both parents at work full-time. Others are headed by a single parent, then there’s blended families and other situations so it’s impossible for there to be a one-size-fits all, “right way” to raise kids.
Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.
I take great pride in being able to provide for my children financially so we can do the things we love as a family. I take my kids to school and pick them up myself. I personally take them to dance and gymnastics class. We are able travel from time to time and go on weekend family adventures. This wouldn’t be possible for my family without the crazy, high-octane career I’ve created for myself, but I can’t take all the credit. For me to be able to do what I do, from my career to the time I spend with my children, it’s family effort. I don’t just get help from my husband, my kids chip in as well. I take pride in that as well, as I believe that it is preparing them for a world when they will need to take some responsibility.
Now that you know where I’m coming from, you can probably tell that I lean more on the “Adults-In-Training” side of the fence, but as much as I give my kids responsibility and trust in their abilities to find solutions to problems in their own, I’m also there to support them emotionally both in their achievements and failures. We can help our children without occupying their space and solving problems for them. We can wait for a child to ask for help after attempting a to find a solution to a problem themselves, then guiding them to a solution instead of providing it for them.
If you live long enough, you’ll make mistakes. But if you learn from them, you’ll be a better person. It’s how you handle adversity, not how it affects you. The main thing is never quit, never quit, never quit.
– William J. Clinton
Yes, my kids watch TV. Yes, my kids go out and play. Yes, I take time for one-on-one interaction with my kids. We make the most of every day. As much as we love to create artwork together, create stepping stones, read, work on math skills, or just wind-down with some snuggle time, we are all humans and also need our own time for quiet reflection. Sometimes we need to veg in front of the TV – just not for shows that teach behaviors that we don’t want to see in our own children… violence, whining, or even just a lack in ambition. I completely fail to see the problem in letting kids watch TV when they need to wind down. I do see a problem in being in their face all day long.
I hope that all parents do engage with their children as much as they can. I also hope that they let their child try to put their shoes on themselves before showing them how to do it. Let kids be kids, but also provide them with responsibilities so that they may learn to succeed in life as a child and later as an adult. Fix every problem for a child and you’ve clipped that child’s wings. Let kids be kids, but give them some credit. They are little people with their own minds, talents, and yes, even problems that need solving. Everyone needs something in their life that is their own, even children. Give your child some room while being a supportive parent and you might be amazed at what your child can achieve all by themselves. They need enough room to be themselves to grown into responsible, confident adults.
The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.
I want my kids to be able to find a way to do whatever they want to do, just as I have. I had to create my own space to balance working from home and being at home with my children. I want them to be able to do the same as adults. It’s how I’ve created success both in my career and in my family. Everyone’s needs are different so the balance will never be the same from family to family, but what’s the point in condemning another parent for letting the children watch TV and paying enough attention to recognize when a child is emanating behavior not in line with blossoming into a well-adjusted adult who is ready to conquer whatever challenges they face?
And to touch back on the Caillou topic since that’s where this all started… Daniel Tiger, which some may find annoying, gave us songs that help bring my kids back to a place where they can understand the problem and find a solution (“Clean Up, Pick Up, Put Away” is a personal favorite of mine). Doc McStuffins, who as a Disney character is only so deep, has inspired one of my children to be help people feel better when given the opportunity. She will even tell you without a hesitation that she wants to be a doctor when she goes up. How amazing is it when a young child has that level of confidence and ambition? Perhaps my family doesn’t “get” Caillou, but it did only inspire helpless whining in my children that went away when we removed that show from our lives. We will keep watching TV when my kids need a physical rest and maybe even so they can relate to the rest of the population in our community. We’ll also spend plenty of time together reading, playing outside, creating artwork, and going on family adventures.
These little girls will grow into confident, self-sufficient adults ready to conquer the world. That is my mission, and I was raised by parents who taught me to find solutions to problems myself and to do what it takes to accomplish my goals and have fun on the journey. You won’t find any apologizes for that here.
You go girls! 🙂