Lunchroom Lowdown- Parenting Challenges
The doctors and nurse practitioners at my practice had another lively discussion over lunch the other day. The subject that I posed for them was “ What are the big parenting challenges facing today’s parents?” God bless them, my partners dove right into this difficult question. After 45 minutes of discussion, I realized that the challenges fell into basically three categories: Setting limits for their children at all ages, not letting the stress of modern life interfere with good parenting decisions, and fostering a non self centered attitude in their children.
First the limiting setting challenges. Modern life provides opportunities for us that were unimaginable 100 years ago. Your grandparents could not conceive of their children having unlimited food, loads of leisure time, portable entertainment in the form of video games or movies, portable communication devices that can talk to anyone anywhere without restriction, or access to unlimited information on the internet. Knowing how to limit access to all this is one of the great dilemmas that modern parents face. Dr. John Plonk pointed out that it is easy for parents to use the TV as a babysitter, the cell phone as an anti-anxiety device when children are away from home, and the portable video game as a pacifier for public places. As he pointed out, sometimes it is difficult to get the screen away from a child during a visit to the doctor! Where do parents draw the line with all this technology? Consensus among the providers was that this is a constant struggle for the parents we help.
Next, the conversation turned to the stress that we see in the parents and children of the families we care for. Many of the families consist of single parent households from divorce or two working parent families. Parents are tired and moving at a very fast pace. Daycare, after school care, limited incomes and long distances to extended family adds to all the stress. All this stress makes parents less resilient and more apt to sloppy parenting. As Melissa Davis PNP points out, consistency makes for good parenting but this is difficult for moody, tired parents to achieve. Having only one parent at home or going back and forth between different households adds other challenges. Dr. Kimberly Riley added that she thinks many parents avoid conflict with their children at the expense of good parenting. As she pointed out, setting limits is the one of the duties of every parent but that is difficult when a parent is tired, is feeling guilty, or is focused on being a child’s friend instead of a parent.
Dr Monica Miller is worried that in our wealthy society children are growing up with too much of a sense of entitlement and therefore as adults, may be overly focused on their own needs rather than those around them. She thinks today’s parents need to expect and encourage more responsible behavior from their children. She would like to see more children given chores, have more of a sense of helpfulness, and treat their parents with more respect
So, if I were to sum up this weeks lunchroom lowdown about “parenting challenges” it would come down to the following:
-Expect more, get more.
-When it comes to parenting decisions, try and remove the X factors like parental guilt, parental fatigue, and parental stress before making important family decisions.
-Setting reasonable, consistent age appropriate limits for your children is just as important as providing food, shelter and love to their ultimate well being.
That’s the chatter from the lunchroom this week. Until next time.