I just read a great article about how "over-parenting" is harming our children. The idea behind it is exactly why I chose "sane parenting" as the title for my blog. Let me be honest. I started my parenting journey as an over-achieving parent, or at least I tried to be. I had traveled a rather long and difficult journey to become a parent. I also had a satisfying career that I gave up to stay home full-time. I'm not really sure if it was the challenges I encountered in becoming a parent that made me try to be super-mom, or the fact that in order to feel good about leaving the workforce, but I felt that I had to put the same kind of effort into parenting that I had into my job. I certainly wasn't going to feel good about myself if I sat around and watched TV or cleaned house all day.
At first my son was just so fascinating that I spent hours just watching him play. Now, really, that wasn't so bad – at least I didn't interfere – and I learned a lot by observing my son in action. But, I bought him every educational toy I saw. And, I rarely left him in the care of anyone else, because frankly I didn't think anyone could do as good of a job as I could. I locked the guest bathroom toilet, annoying a lot of visiting friends and family who would come out of the bathroom doing the potty dance begging me to open the toilet for them. And, after he dropped a bottle of lemon juice on the kitchen floor, broke it, and stepped on it and cut his foot (all with me standing not 6 feet from him), I took all glass out of my kitchen and stocked up on Tupperware. Ok, maybe I like that story because I also started selling Tupperware around then and it makes a great story for worried moms.
My first awakening to the dangers of over-protecting our children was in reading about the undesirable effects of all of our germ control measures. This was mentioned in the article as well. Because we are becoming such clean freaks, our children's immune systems are finding other things to fight, which creates allergies. Within reason, (there's that "sane" thing again – I love it! Works so well.) our children should be exposed to germs. Remember what our parents did back a generation or so ago when one kid came home with the chickenpox? They put him in bed with all the other kids so everyone would get sick at once. Now we take a vaccine so our kids don't get chickenpox at all. Don't misunderstand, I'm for vaccinations. My dad was a polio survivor, so I know first-hand just what they prevent. I just get the feeling that we are going a little overboard with some of them.
For the past several years, the only serious illnesses with which my children have been afflicted have been allergy related – sore throats and ear infections. So, I'm encouraging them to occasionally eat off the floor. I'm hoping it will give their immune systems something else to fight. And, I'm trying to back-off some of my overly involved parenting efforts. We are at Walt Disney World this week and I'm trying out some things. I'll blog about them soon.