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Can We Stop the Mom and Dad Debate and Talk about Kids?

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Wow. There's a whole lot of nasty talk going on all over the place with moms and dads. Or should I say with media and moms and dads?

Maybe I'm just too close to it. But, dang, there seems to be daily land mines out there stirring up a whole lot of arguing about how good moms are, how good dads are (not), whether or not moms are better than dads, if dads are doofuses, or if we are mom enough or dad enough. Have you had enough?

We've all seen the debate last week over the TIME magazine cover photo and story on attachment parenting. And then just the other day, Babble continued to add fuel to the fire with a piece titled "Top 10 Things Mothers do Better than Fathers". It was written by a young dad presumably honoring his wife and all of her strengths as a Mother's Day tribute. Unfortunately, he wrote it in a way that brought the entire male population down with his shortcomings.

A collection of his "Top 10" include:

  1. Moms are better huggers
  2. Moms are better at taking care of injuries
  3. Moms can change diapers better
  4. Moms know how to prepare healthy food (dads do not)
  5. Moms are better at keeping kids clean
  6. Moms are better snugglers than dads

I'm going to stop there. You get the point. And the balance doesn't merit repeating.

The Babble story launched an avalanche of comments -- most of them from furious fathers who took great offense at this jab at dads. It was, in many ways, an instant replay of the TIME magazine cover photograph on attachment parenting. I'm sure both publications are pleased with their exposure.

As for me, I'm getting bored with all of this. The moms and dads I know all seem pretty secure in their roles. They play quite nicely with each other -- even when they differ on philosophies or child-rearing tactics. And they support each other. Actually, they cheer for each other.

I need a break from all this hype online, on the television and in the media. I, for one, think parents are doing pretty well.

How about we talk about kids for a change? How about we toss out some encouragement for what we are all doing? How about we remind each other why parenting matters? The other stuff can wait.

A while back, I was listening to a pretty great mom, Annie Burnside, share some of her thoughts about raising children. Annie's the author of Soul to Soul Parenting and really has a talent for helping you focus on what's important. The night I saw her, she spoke about raising children with a sense of gratitude. Raising kids who didn't just say "thank you" because mom or dad told them too -- but because they really felt it. Deep inside.

Annie's words made me think. A lot. About what kind of kids I'm raising. She inspired me so much I jotted down a quick column on what it is that I really hope for my kids:

Am I raising children who feel? Am I giving them an environment that is safe and encourages them to connect to those emotions that stir from a place deep inside? A place that is uniquely theirs? I hope so. I want so many things for my children. But at the end of it all, these are my true hopes:

  • I want them to be people who look out over the Grand Canyon, the prairies of Kansas or the white caps off of the coast of Maine and feel the deepness of awe. True awe.
  • I want them to be lost in time, someday, as they hold their own children in their arms and realize the miraculousness of a baby's fingerprints.
  • I want them to see into the eyes of someone unexpected. A store clerk. A cab driver. A barber. And I want them to feel the true sense of connection with another human being.
  • I want them to have the regular need to pause and watch the fantastically amazing world of something that catches their eye. A bird. A droplet of water on the window. A spider web. An airplane.
  • I want them to hear a song and feel as though the words were written for them. And them alone.
  • I want them to feel the warmth of comfort as they savor the taste of a meal prepared from the hands and heart of a loving cook.
  • I want them to feel alive. The energetically richness of alive where every muscle, every flinch, every pulse in their body becomes a gift. Even in their darkest moments.
  • I want them to feel validated. A validation that gives them an absolute conviction that every day has purpose. That every minute they are given can be a minute of good. And I want them to feel the joy in validating others.
  • I want them to feel purposeful.
  • I want them to feel responsible. Accountable. I want them to feel as though they are a mirror for others.
  • I want them to feel the love of their dad. No matter where they are in the journey of life.
And yep, while I'd like them occasionally to feel the need to clean their room, help with yard work, and maintain peace with their siblings, I want them to feel the gratefulness that Annie spoke of.

For the life they have the privilege of living.

What do you wish for you children?

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