Here is my short-list of complaints about being a modern American parent:
- All the research that uncovers new ways in which I'm failing.
- All the expert advice that implies that I am a selfish amoral tyrant mom.
- All the Facebooking that reminds me of how totally un-positive and un-peaceful I truly am (i.e., I have never frolicked with my children in tall grass at sunset in white linen proclaiming my gratitude).
Why do we do this to ourselves, and each other?!?!?!
I believe it is because we are suffering from the same syndrome teenagers suffer from -- an over reliance on peer culture to determine whether we are good or bad.
The famous anthropologist Margaret Mead astutely observed in 1942 (!!) that Americans are not typically rooted in folk wisdom and tend to prefer what is most modern, new, and innovative.
Americans parents, then and now, are vulnerable to a chronically peer-oriented parenting culture defined by fads:
We find new schools of education, new schools of diet, new schools of human relations, sprung up like mushrooms, new, untried, rank like skunk cabbages in early spring. And we find serious, educated people following their dictates.
Serious, educated people obeying rank-as-skunk fads? Well. Okay. Yeah. You got me.
I hate this. I don't want my children to feel the anxiety I feel, and that I see all around me.
I don't want them to frantically research and read and look outside of themselves to determine what is right from wrong.
I want them to be inspired by our family, and feel that they have inherited traditions, values, and wisdom that they can trust.
In order to do this, I have to work against our culture's pressure to get in with the crowd.
I have to clarify and prioritize my values and parent in a way that is an active extension of those values. I have to create a culture within my family that is strong enough to counter the anxious, adolescent culture surrounding us.
If you are second guessing yourself and endlessly looking for the new technique that will make you "good," I want to hug you and hold you and help you scream, "F^@k that!"
I want you to find your own wisdom and create your own family culture. I want you to do the courageous, rebellious, revolutionary thing of saying, "I'm doing a good job," without looking up to see who agrees.
You can join Dr. Jessica's Honest Parenthood movement on Facebook and get the support you need to become the parent you want to be.