Something has happened over the years….a shift. A shift in the way we parent from the ways our parents did. One is not right and one is not wrong. One is not better than the other, simply different. This shift has caused the topic of ‘parenting’ to become quite sensitive. “Back in the day, you kids rode in the car seat facing forward and slept on your bellies,” my mom said to me while I was pregnant and explaining all the changes that have happened she since had kids.
Technological advancements, testing and the ability to make ‘a mom’s life easier’ has made way for car seats designed to withstand almost any crash, new baby sleep methods (previously on bellies now on backs) and new products like swings that rock themselves instead of having to push them. Still, parents from the Baby Boomer generation seem perplexed by all these ‘new changes’ because ‘parenting is parenting’ and ‘You survived back then so we had to know what we were doing.’
This is where I think insecurities arise in new parents and even arguments occur. It’s not about previous generations not knowing what they were doing, it’s about how our generation is learning to adapt to new ways of being a parent, the same way our kids will one day. Maybe then we will look back and get it. Maybe we will stare at them wide eyed as if they’re slightly crazy and confused about why things ‘need to be so complicated.’ Or maybe not, maybe we will just accept the ever-changing ways of parenting.
We no longer live in simpler times. We live in a world where technology rules everything we do. Our face-to-face communication is on the verge of extinction. Our everyday interactions (besides those at work) happen via email or text. Encyclopedias are collecting dust in homes across the world as the internet provides us with anything and everything. Balancing a checkbook sounds ancient and mailing a letter is almost unheard of. Our food has gone to crap because the FDA doesn’t care. Regulations aren’t regulated and the cost now (compared to then) to eat healthy is outrageous. Organic farming is no longer a way of life but a luxury that not many can afford. Everyone is out to save a buck and make a buck so corners are cut, good craftsmanship is hard to come by and no one is to be trusted.
This has impacted the way we parent. We don’t see it because this is all we know but it has. This is where the generational gap happens and the rubber meets the road. Maybe parenting was easier in back then because life was easier. Neighbors were friends not strangers you worry are sexual predators or even worse, murderers. Doors were kept unlocked and helping someone in need (whether you knew them or not) was just a part of everyday living. Dinner time was sacred and shared as a family. Conversation was alive and thriving. It definitely wasn’t the fast paced world we live in now. The world where dinners are on the go, in the car and never without someone on a phone. Helping someone in need is a check to a charity, not borrowing sugar to your neighbor or helping to change a flat tire for someone stranded on the side of the road. Our parents had different lives than we do. They parented the only ways they knew how and you know, we did survive.
As a new mom, I find myself butting heads with my mom from time to time. We don’t see eye to eye on certain aspects of parenting. I am still finding my way while it is old habit for her. I am following all the ‘new ways’ of parenting while she does what she knows from her own experiences. So how do we bridge the gap? We love. We understand and we love. We appreciate one another and relate on a mother to mother level, not mother to daughter. We share ideas and respect each others’ opinions. And at the end of the day, we recognize and accept the difference between being new parents and new grandparents. And above all, we never stop loving and praising one another. We love our parents for all that they’ve done and continue to do, and they love for who we’ve become and the parents we are learning to be.
Parenting is not easy and I believe that to be one thing that will carry on through the end of time. However, the more we continue to love and support one another, the more we can learn, share and grow together, from one generation to another.