Monday, August 6, 2012

Relaxing, Stress-Free Parenting

I have a bone to pick with the author of "Bringing Up Bébé":  your book is five years too late.  Susan Druckerman's book talks about how tiring the American style of parenting can be.  One of my favorite quotes is "good parenting is exhausting".  Well, maybe not.  When Mrs. Druckerman talked about narrated play, I couldn't help but cringe, as I was guilty of this act, yelling "whee" whenever my daughter went down the slide or "good job" when she completed a tiny hop.
Everything is better and more scenic
in France!
I have always felt like I was a great parent, because I limit my child's screen time.  That in itself is exhausting.  But since reading "Bringing Up Bébé", I realize that, although she's not mindlessly unengaged in front of the boob tube, she is relying on me for entertainment.  Perhaps it is her status as an only, but at adult dinners, she feels she is an equal in the conversation.  This, apparently, is not the case in France.  Children and adults move in very different circles: adults have adult conversations and children entertain themselves.

Apparently, as an American, it is assume that child-rearing is like a competitive sport.  What won't you do for your child?  But we can be misguided in our zealotry to give our children every advantage.  In Africa, hands-off parenting fosters self-confidence, resilience, imagination, mutual respect, a sense of humor, and a sense of justice; characteristics found in diminishing quantities in American youth. Amazonian youngsters help out with major responsibilities that ensure the survival of the tribe.

The truth is, my daughter can entertain himself, which she does often, but not so much in my company, which says what about me?  I like to think that I am such a fun mom that she sees me as irresistably delightful company.  That's possible, right?  Anyhow, I am using Mrs. Druckerman's advice now at the park, so that I don't give play-by-plays of my daughter's every move.  And although it may not be very Gallic of me, the playground is fun, and I still get in the occasional "hooray". 


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