Parenting, Childhood, Discomfort.By Courtney | September 16, 2017
Received this from an IntSchls mama and wanted to share… Thinking about how we conceptualize ‘childhood’ and our role as ‘Good Parents‘ is definitely part of this work of integration. Her comments made me think of a book I read many moons ago (Furedi’s Paranoid Parenting), that detailed the shifting narrative on childhood and how far-reaching (and problematic) it’s effects are. Maybe we can discuss this a little at Happy Hour next Tuesday! Anyway, thank you, anonymous .
In my Facebook feed this morning, I saw this post from Glennon Doyle. The first line hit me like a ton of bricks: “I always feared my babies pain was my failure.” Glennon, who almost always speaks into words feelings I didn’t know I had, did it again with this post. And since we are a week into my oldest children attending a new school, I immediately wanted to apply it to our school situation.
As I have been on this journey to opt into an integrated school, I tell people that I feel like I have been unlearning everything that modern, affluent parenting teaches you. And when I read that quote I knew I instantly had to add this to the list of Lies I Am Unlearning. That our children’s pain is a reflection on us—our failures. You see, if our children’s pain is a reflection on us, then we are bound to rearrange our lives to minimize their discomfort. I think most parents would intellectually agree that they want their children to be tough and roll with the punches life may throw at them, but we often parent in ways that are completely counter to this.
As this Atlantic article details, since the late 1970s our culture has undergone a massive shift in how we view children; namely, a shift from viewing our children as being resilient to viewing our children as being vulnerable. And that certainly informs our parenting and the messages that I receive as a parent of young children. Our first instinct is to protect, rather than trust. It’s the difference between teaching your child to never make a mistake versus learning from your mistakes. It’s never easy to watch your child struggle, but we seem to have taken this concept too far.
My white, affluent parenting peers have a lot of fears about attending an integrated school. Hell, they have a lot of fears about putting their children in public schools in general. How can we shift the conversation from fear->resilience? From making it less about us as parents and our worries and more about developing our children into the kind of people that we want them to be, especially when that means failures and uncomfortableness along the way? Glennon gives us good advice in her piece, but what lies do you still have to unlearn?
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