Author Topic: Is this good or bad parenting?  (Read 5126 times)

Agent 204

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Is this good or bad parenting?
« on: November 27, 2008, 08:34:44 AM »
Some friends of mine have observed that many parents are not only, in their opinion, overprotective, they are exceedingly judgmental of parents who are not highly protective. Here are the examples they cited; in the first I agree entirely, while in the second I’m not so sure.

The first example took place at a playground, where the mother of a two year old was sitting on a bench reading as the child climbed on a play structure, while all the other mums were actively helping their children with each step. She says they were glaring at her like she was some sort of horrible parent. Since modern play structures are designed to make it extremely difficult to injure yourself even if you want to, I don’t see any problem in her conduct.

The second example was when the mother of a six year old sent the kid down the street to a corner store. There were no streets to cross, it was less than a block away, and it was 10 AM on a Saturday morning in the summer, so in the unlikely event that a would-be abductor showed up, there would be far too many witnesses to risk such a move. However, the mum’s mother-in-law tore into her like she was some kind of horrible monster. The thing is, fifty years ago nobody would have thought twice about this. Of course, although crime statistics show that per capita crime rates are lower now than in the past, the 24-hour news cycle means that coverage of crime is far more prevalent, so that this behavior looks more dangerous now than in the past to someone who watches a lot of TV news.

Of course, the second mum’s behaviour could still be inappropriate; it could be that it was inappropriate 50 years ago, but that parents had the excuse then that we didn’t know about predators and the like. So even with the lower crime rate today it could still be an unacceptable risk, and parents no longer have the excuse of ignorance anymore. Or, it could be inappropriate because even though the risk is minimal, it will alter others’ perceptions of the mum’s parenting ability and cause them to treat her child differently (e.g. teachers who were aware of this might assume that the mum doesn’t care about her child and thus pay less attention to the child’s needs while the squeakier wheels get the grease).

So, what do y’all think?
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Debra

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Re: Is this good or bad parenting?
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2008, 08:48:08 AM »
in the first instance that child is lucky to have a parent that trusts them and allows them independence to learn and grow.

In the second instance I wouldn't allow a child that age to go to the store alone, even though I did. And oddly I am less likely as the ageing parent of six to allow it than I would have been as a young mom. Can't say why exactly, certainly I've never been one to allow others opinions to cloud my parenting judgements. I think I would worry about people the child might know as much or more than strangers, lose dogs, all manner of unforeseen events that a six year old wouldn't be equipped to handle. However, I wouldn't judge another parents different choice either.
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brebis noire

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Re: Is this good or bad parenting?
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2008, 09:03:14 AM »
I think risk is part of parenting, and everybody has different levels of risk tolerance. And kids are different, in terms of what they are equipped to handle, physically and logistically - and (hopefully, or usually) nobody is better able to judge a kid's ability than the mother or father - meaning the parent who spends the most time with the kid.

And every situation is different - even the detailed descriptions don't contain enough information for me to decide. I'd have to be in the situation, assessing it in terms of my own kids and my level of tolerance for risk. And I'd be lying if I said I weren't influenced by news events and reports of freak accidents, etc.

I'd be the parent who sticks close to the toddler, because I have a very low tolerance for preventable physical injury. I might hover, but in a kind of a "spotting" way, just so that I'm assured the kid won't fall from an unacceptable height, for example. Judgement in a situation like that can go both ways - parents are also judged for being too "hovery". I'd avoid judging people either way.

As for the second situation, six seems to me to be very young for that kind of errand, but there are particulars that can be considered - maybe the kid is streetwise and precocious; maybe the neighbourhood looks out for its kids and is totally benign.

I leave my 10-year-old in charge of his little brother for as long as three hours in the afternoon, occasionally. I don't broadcast it, because it's in a legal grey zone, and I might come in for some judgement. It might seem long, but I know my 10-year-old is very conscientious and looks out for all contingencies. I've found that the sense of responsibility it develops in him is good for his self-esteem, and actually helps him get along better with his little brother (i.e. they avoid getting into disputes when I'm not there, because there's nobody to run to for mediation.) One of my colleagues lets her kids (same age) alone for an hour or so, but strictly forbids them to eat anything when she's not there because she has an irrational fear that one of them will choke to death. I hadn't even thought of that, but within a few days of her mentioning it, I casually made sure that my kid knew how to do the Heimlich. (And now that I write that, I feel it's time to teach it to the younger one...)

deBeauxOs

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Re: Is this good or bad parenting?
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2008, 10:40:16 AM »
Historically, parenting has not been the sacred duty/obsession phenom of recent years.  That is a fairly recent development.

Attitudes towards parenting can be found anywhere on a continuum where at one end, children are property and if one is lost to disease or predators, it can be replaced - and the other end where adults will sacrifice their own lives and well-being to serve the interests of their Enfant-roi.

I think that the mother-in-law was out bounds for taking the mother to task unless the situation you described is only the tip of the iceberg and that event triggered a reaction based on other incidents of indifferent or neglectful parenting, for example.  

If that's not the case and the mother is a considerate parent, then as the others suggested, it's a judgement call based on that child's ability to be street smart and her/his willingness to run an errand for the family, such as going for milk, say.  And grandma should express her concerns appropriately and respectfully.

brebis noire

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Re: Is this good or bad parenting?
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2008, 11:08:37 AM »
Quote from: deBeauxOs
Historically, parenting has not been the sacred duty/obsession phenom of recent years.  That is a fairly recent development.

I guess parenting has become weird in recent years. Where I live, however, it's not as obvious, and any information I get about the sacred duty/obsession trend comes in snatches from lifestyle news or anecdotes. I have none of my own to relate, from the people around me.

But kids have become less "replaceable" in a sense - this has been the creeping reality over several decades, since the 1920s or so. When women have less children - or a choice of how many they wish to have, whether it be 1 or 10 - they naturally view each one as more of a precious, chosen entity, rather than a burden or an obligation. I'm not saying that all or even most mothers in the 1920s (e.g.) saw their kids that way, but it could have been more of a psychological reality because of the realities of disease, accidents and economic pressures. I'd also hazard an assumption that parents have more freedom today to invest themselves emotionally in their kids, and that in some cases they can even become more important, emotionally, than a spouse. Whereas that kind of thinking, even though to my mind it's more instinctual, is definitely not attractive in a more patriarchal culture...

Toedancer

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Re: Is this good or bad parenting?
« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2008, 11:50:49 AM »
I agree with ev. so far, good point brebis regarding losing children in the opening of unsafe industrial age, mining/disease etc.  But I replaced mother and her with father and him. Trying to imagine a m-i-l roaring at dad.
"Democracy is not the law of the majority, it's the protection of the minority." -Albert Camus 1913-1960

transplant

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Re: Is this good or bad parenting?
« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2008, 12:32:14 PM »
Quote from: brebis noire
I think risk is part of parenting
I think that should be risk, and learning how to deal with it, is or should be a part of being a kid.

I grew up out of town in the hills and forest and my shins were almost constantly black and blue from falling off of and onto rocks and boulders or out of trees or off playground equipment or my bike, and quite a few of my friends managed to break an arm or leg while growing up. You learned pretty quickly that letting go of the railing on the playground merry go round was not a good idea, or that humans are not quite as good at swinging from branch to branch as other primates. Yet somehow the only kid from grade school that I can remember who actually died had a brain tumor.

I had no problem letting our son run off and climb--and fall off of--stuff in the playground, and even walking down the block to the corner store (as I watched from the far corner, mind you). That said, there was no equivalent to car traffic in the woods, so I paid extra attention to instilling a sense of safety-first when ever crossing a street or driveway. I can't recall even once being worried about abduction, though.
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brebis noire

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Re: Is this good or bad parenting?
« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2008, 12:55:12 PM »
When I was in grade four, the guy sitting beside me fell off his chair and broke his arm. In grade 5, another kid in my class fell off his chair and got a concussion. (Actually, both of them had been balancing on the two back legs of their chair, a kid practice that is the bane of teachers everywhere. I don't think parenting has that much influence on the risks kids choose or don't choose to take every day of their lives by the time they reach school age. My son just has to hear stories like that, and he'll never again attempt to balance on the two back legs of his chair. Other kids, and possibly my younger son, might want to take the risk, but whether that decision is conscious or instinctive, I can't say. My neighbour's hyperactive kid seems to be gifted with a chronic sense of overconfidence, but so far he's OK - even though a few of his cousins got into serious accidents (one fatal) at a later age. That's knowledge that his mother has to deal with - an extra genetic component of risk.

So my point is that kids will naturally take risks or not, depending on their temperament. The problem is that the other variables have changed to the point where things that used to be relatively safe (e.g. biking, going somewhere alone) have become fraught with dangers that have greater consequences than before: there are more cars on the streets, and those cars are going faster, and some drivers are multitasking. So the kids who are naturally prone to taking greater risks are in greater danger, and parents have to assume the responsibility for that, because they are the ones with the most information and experience, and the most to lose.

(Edited for grammar.)

vickyinottawa

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Re: Is this good or bad parenting?
« Reply #8 on: November 27, 2008, 01:28:44 PM »
Two year olds can have vastly different gross motor skills - some may need assistance on the play structure.  Others need "spotting" but that's it, and still others can go at it unaided.  But keep in mind that play structures differ and are geared to certain ages - was it a "2-6" play structure or a "6-12" play structure?   Big difference - I might let G go to town on a play 2-6 structure but there's no way in hell I'd sit and read a book while he was on one meant for bigger kids.  

As for the store, again, context is everything.  How mature is the kid?  Is this an urban or suburban setting?  What are the neighbours like?  We live close to downtown and there are no stores that do not involve crossing a major street, so no way I'd send a 6 year old on an errand unaccompanied.  

I do think that some parents are overly "helicopter-y", but then again, everyone has their own tolerance to risk, KWIM?  I figure they have their reasons.

chester

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Re: Is this good or bad parenting?
« Reply #9 on: November 27, 2008, 03:59:42 PM »
prima facie (?  :cool: ) , i see nothing wrong with either. kids need to play, fall and learn. kids love to be grown up and help out. I remember my oldest bugging me incessantly (probably more like 8 but not sure) to go to the store by herself. I remember the "negotiations" around her being allowed to to do it and that the 15 minutes she was gone were about the longest 15 minutes i have ever put in. Now she's in thailand: "sweety, i'm worried, they've shut down the bangkok airport". "don't worry daddy, we are a way south of there, can arrange to fly from phuket or even malaysia, its all taken care of".

Sorry: pedantry by skdadl, re prima facie, which to me just means "on the face of things."

arborman

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Re: Is this good or bad parenting?
« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2008, 10:45:49 PM »
Quote from: Toedancer
Trying to imagine a m-i-l roaring at dad.

Not so unimaginable actually.  And in a similar (though scaled to a two year old) circumstance.
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deBeauxOs

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Re: Is this good or bad parenting?
« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2008, 11:05:02 PM »
While it has been observed by scientists that young animals, and thus by extension babies, will experience what is known as imprinting with regard to their parents or caregivers, apparently the mythical and sacrosanct maternal bonding 'instinct' is a complex and complicated process and not necessarily instinctive in humans.

chester

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Re: Is this good or bad parenting?
« Reply #12 on: November 27, 2008, 11:36:36 PM »
Quote from: chester
prima facie (?  :cool: ) , i see nothing wrong with either. kids need to play, fall and learn. kids love to be grown up and help out. I remember my oldest bugging me incessantly (probably more like 8 but not sure) to go to the store by herself. I remember the "negotiations" around her being allowed to to do it and that the 15 minutes she was gone were about the longest 15 minutes i have ever put in. Now she's in thailand: "sweety, i'm worried, they've shut down the bangkok airport". "don't worry daddy, we are a way south of there, can arrange to fly from phuket or even malaysia, its all taken care of".

Sorry: pedantry by skdadl, re prima facie, which to me just means "on the face of things."


skdadl's in my post! skdadl's in my post!

skdadl

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Re: Is this good or bad parenting?
« Reply #13 on: November 28, 2008, 07:06:41 AM »
chester, I only climbed in because you had put a question mark behind that dodgy spelling (and yes, it needed a bit of correction). Most of the time I don't do anything about tpyos or spleddings 'cause I hate to be the pedant, but you asked, so I answered. I also left a note because I don't want you to think I'm sneaking around without telling people where I've been.

Hokay?  :D

chester

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Re: Is this good or bad parenting?
« Reply #14 on: November 28, 2008, 09:22:54 AM »
Quote from: skdadl
chester, I only climbed in because you had put a question mark behind that dodgy spelling (and yes, it needed a bit of correction). Most of the time I don't do anything about tpyos or spleddings 'cause I hate to be the pedant, but you asked, so I answered. I also left a note because I don't want you to think I'm sneaking around without telling people where I've been.

Hokay?  :D

 :D .  yup i wasn't sure aboot the spelling but i stand by the usage which i meant as: without further knowledge and based on the scenarios as laid out by Agent 204 then my conclusion is....

 

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