At a holiday party a few weeks ago, our friendly cocktail party conversation turned to parenting—and soon became interesting! The topic was: in today’s world, what’s a parent’s job spec?
Opinions varied dramatically. One parent insisted that benign neglect was a gift: “My parents ignored me and I turned out just fine!” All children need is roof over their heads, and loving caretakers. Children lead. You follow. They’ll be fine.
Another parent seemed a little bit obsessed with our uncertain and changing future, worrying about the responsibility to help children navigate the unknown. Her discomfort was palpable…but if I’m honest, who doesn’t feel at least a bit of this each and every day. Here’s what it sounded like“ What about college? I’ve got my 5-year-old in seven activities, a predictable daily structure, Russian Math, and on a firm diet of Brussels Sprouts.”
The pressures feel immense and the answers are not black and white. Because of my work researching child development ,societal trends, and parenting practices, I’m often looked to as a kind of referee, and these parents were asking me (with a touch of desperation in their eyes): Am I doing this job right? And what is my job, anyway?
There is no simple answer, no sign-posted,12-step program to help any of us get to the ultimate destination: a happy, productive adult. And there’s definitely no point in judging anyone’s parenting choices in terms of good or bad, right or wrong. We all struggle to do the best we can in these confusing times.
But, after listening to the worry of my friends, I can share what our research has told us. As with most social phenomenon, the pendulum swings wildly: After the laissez-faire parenting style of the 70s and 80s (think, latchkey kids), we’ve now got “Helicopter” parents who can’t bring themselves to let their kids struggle or fail. And, while we’re learning to back off from being over-involved the pendulum is just starting its way back – we’re also asking what’s the “right” balance?
The answer lies in understanding your goal. Then figuring out how to get there. After listening to parents from all walks of life and analyzing research and results, we’ve come to believe that there is, in fact, a collective parenting job spec: to help your children become emotionally, physically, socially and functionally healthy and prepared to reach their potential.
Or, in short, Well & Ready. Your job is to help your child become the best possible version of him or herself. It’s our mission at Well & Ready to help you clarify your goals, understand the landscape ahead, and help you learn the skills and practices to help your child thrive. It’s about doing the best you can, armed with the latest information and a ready and willing heart.
Next post we’ll look at what being Well & Ready really entails.
See you then,