Tuesday, August 7, 2012

NYT on Good Parenting & Kim's Commentary

I'm so bored with the meme of the "helicopter parent" -- we really all do our best and I think more support for parents in general would help create a more caring society.  But, perfectionist that I am, I can't resist checking myself against the cultural ideals of "good" parenting and pretty much find that I come up short in one way or another.  Sigh.

I'm curious if this short NYT piece by Madeline Levine (author of the Price of Privilege and a new book that's coming out now) resonates with others.  The best line, for me, is : "  ... the child’s job is to grow, yours is to control your anxiety so it doesn’t get in the way of his reasonable moves toward autonomy" I do think FSP should offer Mackworth Yoga for Stressed Our Parents! It does seem that managing our worry is one of the biggest developmental tasks of mid-life... preparation for "growing old ain't for sissies", I think.

Ultimately, I am still a believer in the argument put forward by Susan Douglas and Meredith Michaels in The Mommy Myth  -- The more the standard of good mothering is both vague/changeable and unattainable, the more we'll sink into our own nutty spin-out of strive/fail/worry/achieve/collapse and the less we'll focus on collective action for political change and social justice for all families.

Yet, according to the Casey Foundation,  a quarter of Maine kids live in houses that experience food insecurity, and almost 1/2 of all school-aged kids qualify for subsidized lunch (wonder what that means for food in summer?).  Maine's KidCount book is really worth looking through, motivation to helicopter a little more for kids everywhere - and their mothers, too.

This blog post, titled: the shame of being newly poor (or, why I canceled our plans today)
shared by "BlackGirlInMaine" provides a powerful narrative about what it feels like to be constantly short of money, while raising kids.  It is a story that I know will resonate within our FSP community, yet a story that rarely is put into public words.

And that circles back to the Levine essay.  While the reality for many Maine families is that idyllic childhoods are interrupted by the displacement of adult responsibilities onto kids themselves,  the fantasy of parenting-perfection remains and the quest to help kids make it to safety in what feels like an increasingly unsafe world is powerful - and remains highly individualistic in many ways. 

How can we break our isolation, develop communities that create safety among shared resources, build kids resilience and our own, with less judgement and less fear?