Why Modern Parenting Feels Like Such a Struggle
Man, it is hard spending a whole day entertaining a young child. How did our grandparents do it? The truth…they did not.
One of the biggest struggles of parents today is that we do not get enough help and guidance.
The whole idea of the nuclear family (a household of just parents and kids) is a recent invention. In fact, it is one of the biggest experiments in human history. Our ancestors always lived in extended families (near grandparents, aunts, cousins, etc.).
For thousands of years, parents had the village to help them. In fact, when people from more traditional cultures hear about our spread-out families, they are usually stunned. 'You can’t be serious!' they say. 'How can you raise a baby without your sisters, mother, aunts, and friends?' More and more, we leave our hometowns, have fewer older children to help out, do not know the neighbors, and live in single-parent families or families where both parents work full-time jobs. Sure, we have lots of modern conveniences (like cars and washing machines), but they can never make up for the loss of family, neighbors, and community. No wonder parents feel overwhelmed. We are!
What is the result of these changes? Amazingly, today’s parents often work longer hours than most parents in past generations. That is because they either have to supervise their kids 24/7 without help or spend all day working and then have to deal with a house full of undone chores.
The challenge of parenting is especially great today because, unlike parents in earlier generations who often cared for younger siblings or babysat the neighbour’s children, most of us have little to no experience raising kids. We get training for our jobs, and we get driving lessons, but when it comes to parenthood, we are supposed to just figure it out on our own.
So please, give yourself a round of applause. You are not a wimp if you use a nanny or a housecleaner. You are not selfish if you get away for lunch with a friend or take an exercise class. Too many parents undermine themselves with guilt. Give yourself credit for all the good work you are doing . . . and get yourself some help.
This struggle only feels harder when it is coupled with daily battles that make us feel like failures. We proudly take credit when our kids behave well, so it is only natural for us to feel responsible when they misbehave. But before you rush to judge yourself, remember that limit-pushing is totally normal. Whether you are a CEO or a four-star general, your child (and especially your toddler!) is going to break the rules.
Here is one more bit of consolation for you: Kids save their biggest meltdowns for their parents. We are the people with whom they feel the safest. So you might consider your toddler’s tantrums a form of flattery.
We all mess up sometimes, but failing every now and then does not make us failures; it is a normal part of parenting and can actually speed us along the path to success. And remember, you are parenting without the support network that families had for generations.
So, relax and learn to look at your mistakes with a sense of humor. Believe it or not, these years will be gone in a flash, and one day you will miss them terribly. Take a big breath, and know that your love, respect, and guidance will help you finish these years with a happy, confident, likable human at your side!
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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider. Breastmilk is the best source of nutrition for babies. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, mothers eat a healthy, balanced diet. Combined breast- and bottle-feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of a mother's breastmilk and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. If you do decide to use infant formula, you should follow instructions carefully.