Maybe Parenting Isn’t As Hard As We Think It Is

Carla: I know, I know! It is so hard, so draining, so taxing, so….much sometimes. I know. But I also wonder if we add layers of stress on ourselves that don’t really need to be there. I do–my husband tells me this often.

I was talking with a friend of mine the other day and mentioned that I wake up at least once a night worrying about our children. I worry that I didn’t spend enough time with them or that I’m not watching what they eat or that they are spending too much time in front of the TV or that we haven’t had enough family time. When this happens, I literally have to talk myself down. I run through a little tape in my head that says, “They’re fine. They will be just fine.”

My friend, who is a father, said this has never, ever happened to him.

Today I happened upon this video clip from David Brooks of The New York Times. He has a new book out that I believe I’m going to have to read. That is if I can remind myself that it’s okay for my children to find something else to do while I read a book.

So what do you think? Is it okay for us to be “good enough” parents?

Caryn: I’m all about being good enough. Honestly, I can’t relate at all to waking up in the night worried about my kids. It’s not that I don’t worry about them—just not to that level. But I do tend to go too far to the laissez faire extreme. I figure they’ll be fine.

Until I see a show about a serial killer. And then realize his (or her) mom probably figured he (or she) would be fine too…. Or, when my son punches his sister and I worry I’m raising a wife beater. Or, when my daughter gets a little too google-eyed at McDreamy in “Enchanted” and I worry she’ll be too ridiculously romantic….

All this to say, I don’t wake up and worry. What does this say about me? (Because, really, it’s ALL ABOUT ME!)

Carla: Great. It really is just me. I hate it when my husband is right.

I know that most of my worries are irrational and I think most of them come out of my lingering fear that things are going too well for it to last. But that might be a conversation better saved for my therapist….

Anyway, I took great comfort in David Brooks up there and I hope you all do, too. But I still want to know what you do that makes parenting harder than it has to be?

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9 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Cindy on March 16, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    I think it depends what the goal of parenting is. I think we probably have far less influence on our kids in the end than we think we do. They’ll make choices that break our hearts, or cause us to burst with pride. But I don’t think we can take responsibility for those. Each has his or her own path, and the choice to follow God or not. If our goal is to provide them with the best possible foundation, and bathe them in love, we’ve done all we can. Lying awake nights (as I am wont to do), doesn’t help anything in the long run. And it may even put too much pressure, not only on us, but also on our kids not to make mistakes. We learn through our mistakes and it takes great courage as a parent to let them makes their own mistakes and bear the consequences. We can advise and coach, but they must take responsibility. My two cents is spent now.

    Reply

  2. Posted by lkpj on March 16, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    I have been awakened in the night by worry about our kids, but only when specific events have been stewing in my brain, not just for the general sense of parenting. So that said, let me suggest this to you ( and anyone really) when you are woke up worrying about anything–PRAY! Yes, I said PRAY! God gives us the perfect answer to our “wakefulness” and that is to take it to Him. He can and will know what to do. In fact, you can trust Him to let you know what to do in certain instances–if you are listenig for His answers. It will be the quiet, yet still fierce, nudge that you get that is important. It might be in the form of needing to talk to a friend about things, or a counselor, or the thought that a certain book might help. Those are just two of the many many ways God can answer by affecting the intuition we mothers tend to actually have. BUT again, you have to listen, and pray. I know, I know, not everyone wants God involved…so call it something else if it makes you happy! But I believe it is God because He is our Father, and I believe He cares for you–1 Peter says so–

    in 1Peter 5:7; 7Casting the [c]whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, [d]once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you [e]watchfully.(B) That is the Amplified Version and I really like what it says!!!!

    Got that part? He says to give him all your worries, all your anxieties, all your concerns–the whole of your care, because He cares!!!!!

    WOW! That about does it for me, so I can at least go back to sleep and count sheep, cause He knows me and the sheep really well!

    Love you guys by the way!! Have a great day and I hope you snore softly many hours tonight!

    Reply

  3. Posted by Sarah Brookner on March 16, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Carla, I worry too. Like crazy. It drives Paul crazy and sometimes it puts a hold on my children that I know is not good for them. However, it’s part of who I am. I also lose sleep over worry. Can you say “melatonin?” Try it if you haven’t. I have a friend (mother) who doesn’t worry about anything. In fact, her mantra is “I let others do the worrying for me.” I could never surrender like that, but there must be some kind of happy medium.

    Reply

  4. Posted by Stevie B. on March 17, 2011 at 7:05 am

    Although I’m a father and this is probably the typical “male response”, and we only have one kid, parenting has honestly been much easier than I thought it would be. So much so that I sometimes wonder why we didn’t get an earlier start on it. I think our irrational fears of how difficult parenting might be actually helped with the realization that it’s not rocket science. I have also come to realize – mainly by dealing with the end results of bad parenting at my job every day – that you have to work pretty hard to really screw up your kid. They’re surprisingly resilient and the “First, do no harm” approach can really go a long way. Now if I could just convince my wife of this…

    Reply

  5. Posted by Laura Smith on March 17, 2011 at 11:18 am

    So funny that you’ve posted this as I’ve been listening to Kerri Miller’s interview with David Brooks from yesterday: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2011/03/16/midmorning2/

    Seems to be a fascinating book!

    Trying to figure out some type of an answer to your question….

    I’m still thinking that parenting is just a big and hard job. We all obsess about various aspects of our our children’s lives to one degree or another. And our society makes sure there’s no lack of subject matter – no doubt about that.

    We need continual perspective and wisdom from those who’ve been through it; another pro for community I say. Hearing from other parents, who’s kid’s backpacks outweighed a VW, who couldn’t get the homework done, who couldn’t focus but still survived.. etc.. We need weekly reminders that it will all be ok. This can help with the sleep, maybe.

    Also, i know we’re never going to stop trying our best… so forget that. But we can work on the remembering; remembering that we get to be human beings that succeed and fail, and most importantly to let our children see this.

    Reply

  6. Posted by Stacy B on March 17, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    I think that there is something between being “good enough” and overly anxious about how we parent. Parenting is tiring stuff; we have to make time for ourselves, our spouses, and be attentive and in the moment enough to parent to raise the next generation of responsible citizens.

    My husband and I are currently participating in a small group where we are reading a book by George Barna called “Revolutionary Parenting.” It is relieving in many ways; however, it does call us to action in new (and exciting) ways. I have found comfort when I can check off the “right” behaviors in myself and my children. And I am being challenged to do some things a little differently and change some of our comfort zone moments. I recommend it! :)

    Reply

  7. Posted by Robyn on March 21, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    I am you, Carla. One day I told my husband every thought that went through my head for 60 seconds. He was flabbergasted. I told him all the things I worry about: my daughter’s birthday party six months from now, where my 1-year-old will go to college, how to buy a prom dress for my 4-year-old in 12 years, whether the macaroni and cheese I fed them when I had the flu is going to ruin their health, how my daughter will handle childbirth, who will host Christmas when I have grandchildren, whether they are getting enough sleep, whether I pay enough attention to them…

    No wonder I’m in therapy.

    Reply

  8. Posted by Peggy on March 24, 2011 at 7:31 am

    I agree with the commenter above who said that parenting has been easier than he expected. At their current ages (5th grade/9th grade) I have some basic worries with them (Are they on a good spiritual development path? Have we done enough to help them discover and develop their talents? Did we make the right school choice?) but I don’t think I feel “overly worried.” I did really worry a lot about various safety issues when they were younger (esp “stranger danger”), but now that they are older and we can talk about things and I can hear how they assess and react in various situations, I feel better about these issues. If anything, my worry now is that maybe I’ve been too busy enjoying them and I haven’t worried enough and somehow I have missed something I should have focused on!

    However, I also think my perspective is very influenced by how I grew up – my youngest brother has multiple severe disabilities and requires a lot of care. I knew if my kids had special needs I would be able to handle it if I had to but obviously that’s not what I hoped for. I happen to be blessed with 2 healthy children. Because I understand at a deep level the contrast of how my mother has had to parent my brother and the concerns/fears she has, as compared to how I am able to be as a mom with my kids, I think that has also influenced me not to worry.

    Reply

  9. Posted by Noel on June 13, 2011 at 5:40 am

    I would like to say a big thank you to all of you for your comments. I am a new mom (I have a 5 month daughter) and I had a total worry/overwhelming moment yesterday. My husband, like everyone else’s it seems, was very sweet, but totally confused as to why I felt that way. I cannot tell you how comforting it is to see that I am not the only one who feels this way from time to time (for the most part I don’t worry too much). I also must say that the last comment, talking about her brother with special needs, made me realize that I am just being ridiculous! I have been so blessed to have a happy, healthy, fantastic little lady who I love to pieces. I am also lucky to have an amazing and supportive husband and family. What do I really have to worry about? Thank you so much for putting my fears to rest (at least for the moment).

    Reply

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