I read a post the other day where the author said that she has learnt to parent from her parents, and is doing things differently. What followed was a laundry list of the things that she felt she missed out on because her family has 5 kids and not a huge amount of money. Stuff like she didn’t get lunch orders and she didn’t get to do much of the extra stuff. So now her kids get lunch orders each week and do heaps after school.
My mother would have asked you whether you were feeling hardly done by. And that really is what is going on. She is living her childhood the way she wanted it to be through her kids. Giving them what she wanted.
It just seems like a ridiculous thing to do. By all means improve on your parents parenting if necessary. If your parents were emotionally distant and you were bullied to a point where it was awful, but you could not talk to them, by all means connect more with your kids! But it does not mean you have to become their best friend.
I still remember watching a series called Status Anxiety by Alain de Boton. On of the things he said was that we almost universally look towards those who have more than us and covet their status and ignore those below us. It drives us to not be content with our lives. This mother has looked at those kids in her childhood who seemed to have it better and it felt like everyone else had more than she did. I am guessing that it was just an illusion as she would not have noticed that others did not have that stuff either. When I was at school it always felt like everyone else got lunch orders all the time and I didn’t. But now as a teacher for 15 years I know that it is just a few kids who have them heaps, not most kids.
I know with my peers at some point we used to always talk about the cool childhood stuff that we missed out on but it seemed that everyone had. We had a deficit model of childhood.
I guess I want to ask why are we trying to make our kids lives so great. Are we doing this stuff so that they can reach their developmental potential, or is it so they don’t miss out on anything.
I haven’t explored or expressed this very well, but I wonder where it will lead. It is so cheap and easy to get stuff these days, and we are so much more aware of what can be bought and what others are doing. Are we giving our kids a gift, allowing them to not regret their childhood, or are we robbing them of something important, something intangible, an experience that you can’t have what everyone else is having just because.