Purposive Rambling

the journey is the reward.

Shifting Ideas of “Good” Parenting?

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Lisa Belkin has a piece in the NYT Magazine, “Let the Kid Be,” on our shifting ideas about raising our children.

Basically, we’re seeing a backlash against intensive, child-centered parenting. We’re starting to advocate for a more laid-back approach to parenting. She nicely points out, though, that even if the particular ideas about what parents should be doing change, the worry over whether we’re doing things right or not is still there. That is the constant that seems to survive through shifts over time in how we think children should be raised.

One of the more interesting (to me) pieces of evidence she cites for this shift in ideas is the growth of websites like truuconfessions.com, where moms can anonymously tell on themselves for being “bad mommies.” I stumbled onto this site awhile back and was really intrigued by it. On the one hand, it upsets me that there’s a need for an anonymous website to confess your mothering transgressions. Isn’t that a signal that we’re putting too much pressure on mothers to be perfect (which is impossible, especially when the advice on how to raise your kids appropriately is constantly changing)? And doesn’t having a site like this that encourages confessions of bad mommy-ing perpetuate the idea that there is such a thing as bad mommy-ing, and in turn, good mommy-ing? On the other hand, if there is all this pressure to be perfect, maybe this website is a really cathartic outlet for women who don’t have support from a non-virtual social network.

I’m curious now about whether these kinds of “confessions,” either on the Internet or to friends and family, are healthy for moms? Is it something that most moms do? And what about dads? Do they feel any pressure to follow norms of parenting? If so, do they feel guilty about not measuring up? Do they talk to others about it?

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Written by Lisa

June 3, 2009 at 6:11 pm

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