This article that I’m posting here is incredibly relatable for me, which makes me sad just even saying that. When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter I was not in the place where I thought I should be having a child. Let’s just say I was underage and not engaged. So the topic was floated around often for me to give up the baby for adoption, which I was interested in, until weird things began to happen. I had people, whom I hadn’t talked to in years emailing, or approaching me, saying they knew someone who was wanting to adopt, and giving me names and addresses of people to get in contact with, and while that itself wasn’t strange, I was borderline harassed by some. Once, I overheard my mother telling one of her friends that a friend of a friend had approached her asking if he and his girlfriend could adopt the baby. While I appreciate all of the help I was getting from others, by the time I had my daughter I was incredibly protective of her, and would have absolute panic attacks about someone trying to take her away from me.
The thing is though, I wonder if these moments of fear were because of all of the events surrounding my child’s birth, or if it was simply me trying to exert my motherly instincts for my child. I certainly didn’t feel like a mother at the time, and with everyone constantly telling you that worrying is what mothers do, worrying seemed like a very concise way to exert my authority over her. It was like shouting to the world, “This is my baby! No one else would be this worried about her! I am a good mother!” Even then, women would still come up to me in stores to tell me my child should have a blanket on her, or I should have more supports in her carseat because she looks smushed, or that she was so pretty, I should be careful no one tries to…you know…touch her (seriously, what kind of people say that to someone else?!?). I got the overwhelming feeling that I was still not worrying enough, and these women were somehow more motherly than I because they found things to be concerned about. By the time my husband and I got married and moved into our house, I was having full blown panics about her being out of my sight, or sleeping in her room by herself. I could hear windows being opened and was sure it was someone coming to steal her. I looked suspiciously at each and every man that was around her (yes, that even includes grandpas) and would sulk and pout whenever she left was with someone else until she came home.
The most disturbing thing about all of this is that I don’t think my situation uniquely made me feel this way. The author of the above CNN link says that psychologists acknowledge this is a fairly common feeling, and based on many of the laws, rules, and expected norms of parenting, it seems that a lot of mothers, and even fathers, are over worried about their children.
I’ve kind of grown out of my super vigilant parenting. I almost had to after I had another child, and I also hated feeling so coerced by other parents. I’ve really tried to strike it out on my own, with my own parenting style, and although I think I was almost a little bit too relaxed at times with my son, both of my children are developing, so far, into well-balanced, independent, confident people. I absolutely love freerangekids.com. I remember hearing about Lenore when she let her son ride the subway by himself when he was, I think, 9, and she’s turned her hatred of the free mongering parenting advice into a blog on which she posts great examples of how silly some rules and expectations about kids are.
Although the tole this kind of helicopter parenting takes is usually negative (and some studies have even proved this to be true), the greatest disservice I see of worried parenting is on parents themselves. I hate it when I hear woman complain about how tiring and terrible parenting is, but then two sentences later brag that “when I’m with my kids, I’m with them 100 percent!” Yes, I’m sure your children love you completely being with them, just like you love having your mother around all the time! Parenting is not some marathon that you have to push yourself through and try to finish first. Parenting can be a wonderful experience but it will never be if you’re constantly worrying and fussing and fretting about every little detail about your children’s lives.
I suppose that is why I am creating this blog. I want to help other parents free themselves over to the good sides of parenting. To help us all remember a time when childhood was a time of freedom, romance, and adventure!