I was born in 1974.
Just for funsies, I googled pop culture during the eminent year of my arrival onto the planet.
Interesting, laugh out loud trivia bits and pieces tickled my funny bone, but the turmoil swimming around the world was no joke.
Impeachment, war, demonstrations, controversial pardons, riots, civil rights issues, discrimination . . .
Sounds familiar, right?
The world keeps spinning, and the root of gargantuan sized problems don't change, only the dress code and soundtrack.
My desire is not to preach from my keyboard about the state of our current topsy-turvy. Good thing, because I would fumble it all up anyway. (Insert here. Please pray for the victims of the Las Vegas shooting.)
Nope. This post is all about me. And maybe you. And our kids. Depends.
As a young one raised in the 70's and 80's, I've made some observations that wrap back around to our little darlings we are pouring into with every waking moment of our existence.
Rewind to years 1-10, I can't help but call out vast differences in parenting approaches. Some of these are real memories; some are captured only on polaroids.
Safety- My only memory of a seatbelt is when our father used one to tie the passenger side door of our hatchback closed to prevent it from flying open, and possibly catapulting myself and my brothers into the murky depths of the St. Johns River. As we chug-a-lugged over all 3.1 miles of the Buckman Bridge to see the grandparents, I watched as the concrete whirred underneath my feet—literally. Seriously, I could have touched the yellow lines.
Nutrition- Mayonnaise sandwiches and star crunch Debbie Cakes infiltrated into my metal Wonder Woman lunch box every. single. day—for YEARS. (Sidenote-I am not a fan of mayonnaise at present.)
Playdates- The gathering of friends from the neighborhood armed with bikes and skateboards with firm instructions to check in for lunch only to return outside to our limitless domain until sundown.
Supervision- I'm the oldest of three, and distinctly remember rollerskating with my baby brother on our concrete driveway, before dropping him on his head. My mother didn't seem overly concerned.
Environment- The "bug truck" and its dispensation of chemical clouds was a highlight of any summer afternoon and every adult I knew smoked in and out of doors. Playgrounds were made of metal, coated with lead paint and perched over asphalt. My brother literally forked his tongue going down a metal slide that had reached about a thousand degrees in the September Florida sun.
Parenting philosophy- As my seven-year-old self is teetering from the branch of a tree (yes, we were allowed to climb them), I distinctly recall a supervising adult wandering out into the yard (probably to smoke) saying, "Let her fall. Guarantee she won't do it again."
Every generation makes mistakes in parenting. Our parents ADORED us, and there was NEVER a question in my mind whether or not I was loved. I just knew it. For whatever reason, they just sort of thought we could take care of ourselves, and you know what? The majority of the time we did.
Fast-forward to today.
The most unsupervised generation has birthed the most supervised generation and here we are.
Welcome to 2017 where brilliant, knowledge-heavy, technical savvy teenagers are infiltrating the work force, yet some of have literally never been left alone a day in their existence.
I'm not logging on to lecture about the do's and don'ts of parenting. Lord only knows I am woefully unqualified. Just as we, the grown-ups, forge through the peaks and valleys of life, so must our children. And . . . I ask myself. Are they as well-equipped as I was?
I can count the number of times my parents chaperoned a field trip, attended an open house, or God-forbid, inserted their influence in my place of work on one hand; flip-flop—I can count the number of times I've actually MISSED an open house, parent conference, field trip, school event on one hand.
Why is that? Are we afraid if we miss something, horrible events will unfold? Is it the mom and dad guilt? Is it fear that because all the other parents are doing it, our kid will feel neglect, left out, unloved? Maybe all of the above?
Like our parents, we love our kids—passionately. And we would do anything for them, as demonstrated on a DAILY basis. But I'm begging you, as I look at my reflection, don't hold them back by convincing them a three-legged race is the best mode of transport in this life. Allowing our kids to walk independently through the day to day, complete with bumps, bruises, with no immediate access to band-aid wielding mamas and daddies is a GIFT.
Snip. Snip. Snip. (Hear that?) Painful, gut-wrenching sound of cutting the cord.
Exposure at an all time high plus experience at an all time low equals recipe for disaster.
Our parents weren't perfect, but the majority of us survived with scars enabling us to power through and become one of the most productive, gritty generations in existence. Sheltering our kiddos from the hard, from the yuck, from the sticky isn't doing them any favors.
I'm not saying we shouldn't participate in the lives of our children. We most certainly should. They look to us for instruction. Let's carry on equipping them on how to navigate the murky waters. But don't be tempted to strap a life jacket on precious(es), while dragging them along as we do all the work.
Jeromy and I (could be because of our careers) think of ourselves as coaches standing on the sideline cheering them on, giving them strategies and plays, but watching them execute. Allowing them to know what it feels like to win and to lose. Are there times we wince? Yes. Are there times we cover our eyes, afraid to look? Yes. Are there times we jump up and down after they get up, brush themselves off, and execute what they had been practicing all along? YES.
We have great kids, y'all. Motivated, super-smart, and more than capable. Let's not rob ourselves of the joy one experiences watching them walk—standing wide-eyed as they run—and looking skyward covered in goosebumps when they learn how to fly.
God bless us and them!
Moving with Scribbles,
Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. Matthew 6:34 MSG
Amanda Williams is a forty-year old wife and mother of two who can still swing her pony tail and display just a tad of sass. She is also a Jesus loving girl who realizes she is nothing without the One who saved her. Amanda has two degrees specializing in serving students with special needs and is currently working in the field of Leadership Development. She is a Christian author, speaker, blogger, and publisher who loves serving beside her husband at her local place of worship, First Baptist Church of Ocala.