Overparenting

November 18, 2008

smart

I just finished Joan Acocella’s review of recent writings on the topic of overparenting.  It is a fantastic overview of the issue.  She discusses how many experts deplore overparenting and argue that it is raising a generation of selfish, vain, wimps.  Ouch.

One part really freaked me out.  “One cause of the overparenting trend, Marano says, is the working mother.  That seems paradoxical: if Mother is at the office, how can she hover over the child? Well, she can hover at night and on the weekends…Marano believes, however, that the risk of overparenting is greater for a woman who quits her job in favor of full-time mothering while her children are young.  Such a woman faces a huge loss of income over her career… It is no surprise that she might want child-rearing to be a project worthy of that sacrifice.”  So basically, you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.  

This reeks of a 1950s blame-the-mother mentality.  While I abhor overparenting- just let kids be kids- I am incredibly skeptical of putting all of the blame on the parents (read: mother).  We all know mothers who hover and who do their kids’ homework for them and that is seriously screwed up, but it seems like there is a larger problem at work here.  

Why are parents feeling the need to have their children be so perfect?  Why is there so much fear about our children being harmed?  Why are we constantly watching each other’s every little move?  Let’s face it, the upper-middle class (yes, overparenting is an upper class issue) is a mess of competitiveness and judgment.  Maybe it is because we are so uncomfortable with our own life choices.  But maybe it is time for a reality check so that we stop our belly aching and stop projecting onto our kids. We are incredibly privileged and accomplished- overall, life’s not so bad.  So let’s just let our kids be kids.  

After all, we all know my kid is smarter than yours. 😉

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