Why It’s So Difficult To Raise A Child Nowadays


Web

The internet.  I blame it all on the internet.

While the internet has brought about amazing benefits in our world, one way that I think it has been quite detrimental is in the process of parenting.  When a woman gets pregnant (or gets the urge to get pregnant) she can go online and find hundreds of thousands of articles, reports, forums and blog posts (the best ever is, of course, written by me!) to give her advice, links to support groups, and lists of games and activities to help raise a brilliant overachiever.  In the pre-internet days you had to rely on advice from your parents, friends and neighbours (back then nobody was afraid to make friends with their neighbours), it was advice from people you knew and trusted, advice that had already been used for years, advice that had been proven successful (or not! Still…good to know.)

Back when I was a kid we would play for hours in the field behind our house.  There were about a dozen kids that lived on our street and we would all play together, there was never an adult in sight.  I’m sure that most of the moms who lived in houses that backed into the park would take a peek out the window in between loads of laundry and dusting but for the most part we were left on our own.  That was perfectly normal.  We were outside most of the summer (and spring and fall, winter…not so much but enough!), and we were largely unsupervised. (Shocking by today’s standards but oh, how I miss those days!)

Nobody was unaware that kidnappings and violence existed but the chances of it happening to one of us was fairly slim.  We all knew not to get into cars with strangers and to run away yelling if someone came after us, our neighbourhood had a parent network program (I can’t remember the name) where a sign was put in a front window to identify a “safe” house that kids could run to if needed.  In the 18 years I lived in that neighbourhood I don’t think that anyone needed to use that program.

Now, with the internet, we hear about some sort of terrible tragedy every single day!  We can’t escape it, reports of bad things happening to good people show up in banners across the TV screen, they are blasted to our email inboxes as “Breaking News”, they litter the Twitter feed and clog up the Facebook timeline.  It starts to make you think that it’s just a matter of time before it’s your turn to be touched by violence and that’s what makes us want to smother our children in cotton wool, avoid the neighbours, never let the kids out of our sight, batten down the hatches and pull up the drawbridge. (I don’t actually know anyone who has a moat but if they have WiFi I’m sure the bridge would be up!)

Studies have shown that the incidents of violence in most areas of North America have actually fallen in the past 20 years, so why is it that we are so afraid now?  Because now we hear about the bad things that happen all across the country, whereas before we would usually only hear about something that happened a whole lot closer to home.  I didn’t live in a huge metropolis and I’m sure it was different for people who did but I can’t recall any major crimes involving children during my formative years.  I grew up feeling safe and I will do my absolute best to make sure that my children do too.

The problem comes when I try to let my children explore in a world that they truly believe is safe.  I’m really not a “helicopter” parent (a term from the internet, I can’t stand it!), I remember Big Boy at a swimming lesson, he wouldn’t stop jumping near the edge of the pool.  The teacher kept telling him to stay by the wall so he wouldn’t fall into the “deep” water but he was choosing to ignore her.  After the class I told her to let him fall next time, (the look on her face!) nothing was going to happen to him, she was right there to pull him out and getting an unexpected dunk would sure teach him to stay away from the edge!

My kids learn best by doing things and seeing what the outcome is.  I don’t let them do things that will result in decapitation or complete destruction of a major asset but I have let them climb three or four steps up a ladder and then not come running immediately when they realized they were stuck.  I have taught them to get a cloth and wipe up their own spilled juice (sometimes works, sometimes not) and I have let them destroy toys just to show them that if they mistreat something it can’t always be fixed.

If I look on the internet I find that there are several thousand “experts” that would call me a bad, lazy, uninterested, self-absorbed (add whatever unflattering adjective you choose) mother and roundly condemn my parenting style.  I would also find several thousand others who think that I’m doing things perfectly!  Unfortunately every person that sees you with your children in the grocery store, at the park, driving down the street (I don’t walk) or playing at the beach will have read something, somewhere on the internet that makes them think they know more than you, better than you or just plain different than you.

The internet makes us all feel that we know a whole lot more than we actually do. In an instant we can be transported to a different country and learn all about it, we can instantly find out about traffic jams in our daily commute (I commute from the bed to the coffee maker so traffic problems are rare!), we have instant communication with family around the world, we have learned to expect instant choices to be made available to us and we have learned to react quickly.  We are quick to judge each other as parents, quick to shy away from lending a hand to a woman trying to corral three kids and two shopping carts through the parking lot, quick to protect our children from the world by preventing them from experiencing it!

I love the internet and what it represents for our future but there is a part of me that really wishes that we could all exercise some common sense and good judgement when it comes to what we read on the internet and how much credence we afford it.  The internet is a tool, and a powerful one, that we as parents are free to use however we choose but we need to remember that as all-knowing as the internet seems to be it doesn’t know us and it sure doesn’t know our children.  It’s up to us to use this tool to our best advantage by accepting the good (with a grain of salt), weeding out the bad and completely ignoring the insane.

It’s a big job but we’re parents, we’re used to big jobs.

I have just been informed by my brother that it was the Block Parent program!

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39 thoughts on “Why It’s So Difficult To Raise A Child Nowadays

    • I actually didn’t quite realize how much I used the internet for until I didn’t have it for two weeks! Knowing how much I use it didn’t really help each my mind at all!

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  1. I really enjoyed this post. I absolutely agree about the internet having a number of distinct disadvantages (alongside the benefits). I also agree about the value of allowing children to discover things for themselves (including the ‘safe’ negative consequences – a dunking’s all good!)

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      • Hmm, that wouldn’t have felt very nice. Don’t worry, I’d have probably wandered over to my critter and told them the same thing! “if you fall into the deep end of the pool it will be your own fault buddy for not listening and doing something daft and dangerous”

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  2. People are more willing to judge than to help. I believe the internet has caused us to think there is a child abductor around every corner. Great post.

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    • Danger is out there but I have to believe that it’s not as close as we think if we’re reasonably observant. I don’t want to raise my boys to be afraid of everything, they’ll miss out on so much! I’m glad you enjoyed the post, thanks!

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  3. I am in agreement with you! There is so much information on the internet about parenting (well, I guess everything really right?!) that it makes me crazy trying to figure out what is true and helpful, or discouraging and wrong. 🙂
    I love to find blogs of like minded people though and am glad to have found you on the Mommy like swap board! 🙂

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  4. This was such a great post. It’s true – sometimes, I wonder – are we really better off because of the internet? There are so many ways to parent, so many different approaches to just about any part of it. Instead of us living and letting others live, we just sort of use our knowledge to judge others. And when we find something that “confirms” something for us, we use it to go a-HA! and as self-justification, to prove that we were always right.

    I think your parenting style makes perfect sense. I’m sure that there are others who would be outraged. Whatever. Haha! Keep doing what you are doing!

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  5. I totally agree, my son already loves our phones and he’s only 8 months, we don’t let him play on them, but when he notices we’re on them he launches towards them and tries to play with them. At what age is it OK to allow them screen time?!

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    • I’ve heard that the experts say 2 years but I don’t really think that’s a reasonable expectation in today’s digital world. I know that my oldest did a lot of his initial learning a of numbers, letters and colours with the help of my iPad so it doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing.

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      • Yes, my fiancé and I have been weighing the pros and cons of purchasing a tablet recently and educational apps were def on the pro list. I just know that if I spend too much time in front of a screen I feel icky and lazy, and have “screen addiction” thats hard to break, so I wonder about if it could potentially have the same effects on my son.

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      • It’s quite likely I’m sure. I’ve had to deal with a lot of crap from an unhappy preschooler when the power went out and when the internet is down. I have to make a real effort to get him away from a screen or he would sit there all day!

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      • I bet! I have to make constant efforts to keep MYSELF off the screen lol though at least the blog gives me an excuse most of the time

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  6. I think this is a great point. Parenting for us is so different than what our parents did, because we have the internet and instant access to everything. This is going to be an interesting challenge to overcome as parents. The availability of the news about violence has been frustrating for sure. But as we do with everything else, we will do the best we can!

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  7. I want mine to be able to enjoy being children and being innocent, but also be safe. it’s hard to manage in this day and age! I’m thankful to live in the country where I do know the few close neighbors I have, and my children can feel safe at least here playing in their own back yard.

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  8. I absolutely agree with you! It’s so hard – I LOVE the internet (so many great things to enjoy) but I also sorta hate it. 😛 Thanks for such a great post! 😀

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  9. Sometimes they have to learn the unfortunate way. You’re lucky with the lack of broken bones, my eldest had his first cast just after his second birthday and I’m sure that there will be a few more in this household!

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  10. Because of your comment on my blog, “Compelled,” I came and checked out what you had to say. We are on the same page. Let them be kids! Amazingly enough, even with my rough-and-tumble boys, we haven’t yet—in nearly 18 years—had a broken bone. Stitches, yes. My 17-year-old rear-ended someone a few months back. Now he knows that you need to give yourself more stopping time in the rain. Our saying it several times during driving lessons didn’t make the impact that did (pun intended) 😉 Keep up the good work.

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  11. Fabulous post! I whole-heartedly agree. I’ve heard the statistics that we live in fear because of everything we see and hear… the internet makes the deliverance of those messages so much easier.

    Oh and the internet and the pressure people feel from the stories, boastings, and rants of individuals… deplorable!

    I can’t imagine parenting getting easier. How I wish I could go off the grid and do it Little House on the Prairie style. Although, I would miss my blog and blogging buddies… they have made parenting easier because I have a network of friends and support I otherwise would not have.

    Thanks for sharing (and for linking up to the SHINE Blog Hop).

    Wishing you a lovely day.
    xoxo

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  12. It’s so true that now the more we know the more fear we have about horrible things happening to our children. I used to roam the desert with friends for hours untended and just show up at dinner time. I love this post and love your story you shared about letting your son fall in the pool at swim class, Sometimes we just have to let them learn without helicoptering.

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    • I used to think it was just the way that my kids learned, they had to try things themselves but then I realized that there is a whole generation of kids that didn’t learn anything because they weren’t allowed to do anything! Perhaps I’ll make it my mission to figure out a perfect balance between staying too close and too far away!

      I’m glad you liked the story, thanks for joining the conversation!

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    • Yes I am! I’m learning to believe that anyway (not really…I’ve always known!)
      I think most of us are really great moms (including you!) and if I didn’t have the internet to hear about the horrible moms who hurt their children then I would say that we are all great moms in our own way!

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      • I don’t think that’s hypocritical; I’m sure lots of people agree (myself included)! There’s so much great info and opportunities out there but also a lot of junk. I think you’re exactly right– it’s a great tool, but we need to exercise discernment and ignore the insane, as you said 🙂

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