Friday, 24 September 2010

Generation Parent Coach

I never thought being part of Generation X would be kind of embarrassing, but when I think about us in the context of parenting my cheeks do get a little pink.

I've alluded to my intolerance of hyper-parenting and competitive parenting, but I think we are the ones who started these trends. Like everything we do, Gen X puts their heart and soul into parenting. But I think we lack confidence in our role and feel pressured by the responsibility of child-rearing. We by-pass the 'it takes a village' and do it all ourselves. We are less child-literate than our parents' generation was and have somehow turned childhood into an over-commercialised and highly organised business.

I met a parent coach the other night. The extremely lovely Fiona from who gave a talk to our Multiple Birth group.

The very existence of parent coaching had me in a bind.

On the one hand, she was amazing. She had tips and hints for all kinds of situations. Some things I had heard of before, some things were new and some used in a different way or in a context that I would never of thought of. In some ways I wanted to be her, with her calm manner, soothing voice and secret child instruction manual.

On the other hand, I was annoyed. I was annoyed that we live in a society that needs parent coaches. In a time where intuition has been sucked out of so many parents that they are relying entirely on the contents of a hastily purchased 'baby book' (and trying to mould their child to fit the defined 'norm'). In a world where parents are feeling pressured about the responsibility of parenting.

Call me old fashioned, out of touch or just plain crazy, but aren't we as parents the ones who know our children best?  Isn't this something that the human race has been doing for thousands of years?

There is so much pressure to 'get it right' now that people seem afraid to 'make mistakes'. We've all done our pop-psychology reading and know that if we 'stuff things up' in the first few years of life, our children could be irreparably damaged. Freud has a lot to answer for.
While I am honestly so happy that the likes of Fiona are available to help out families in need, I truly wish we didn't need parent coaches in this world. I wish Gen X would trust its instincts and let children be children.

And parents be parents.

What do you think?


x0xJ said...

You said it perfectly when you said "we know our children best" we do. I think that it's more than questioning the parenting thing it's that we lack confidence in our ability to make decsions, and we lack confidence in OURSELVES.
I spent a good part of my firstborns life living it how everyone else wanted me to that i relished in those quiet moments when everyone was at work for the day and it was just he and I. Honestly, it's silly to try and please everyone else because everyone else wnats such different things, they believe such different things that it's just not possible. I was lucky that by the time i was pregnant with my second i had resolved myself to the fact that i needed to do this in a way that made me happy, afterall it is one thing to make a mistake with the best of intentions, but to make other peoples mistakes? To make a mistake that i am unhappy about to begin with? That just seemed really stupid to me. So with Master D i've enjoyed the parenting roller coaster much much more, we don't always get it right, but we are happy. Isn't that what makes successful parenting? A happy family unit?

life in a pink fibro said...

We are an information-saturated generation that won't go to a restaurant without a review. Would you expect a different approach to parenting? But, yes, I do think we all need to get over ourselves and get on with it.

Rebecca said...

I have never actually seen a parent coach...unless you count Super Nanny (who is awesome BTW), so take this with a grain of salt.

I really really really try to go with my instincts. I am not an idiot and I have a pretty good gut reaction. My kids are totally different even though they are twins (and opposite genders), so I have to parent them both differently yet consistently.

I read books, but I don't follow them religiously. I listen to other parents and read blogs and try to figure things out from there. Parenting is hard, but if you think about it, the people who really need a coach will never get one.

Maxabella said...

I don't quite know how anyone has the money to spend on things like Parenting Coaching... however, I will say that as a person who has used services like Tresillion and the like, I was very grateful that they were there. I imagine that a parenting coach would help you out in the same kind of way. Sometimes we just get a bit lost and when we no longer have the ability to focus exclusively on our children and home life (whether by choice or necessity), it's good to know that resources are there to help us out. x

Suzie G said...

I read plenty of books before the kids were born (about everything up to and including the birth), but none at all afterwards. Oh, I had them, they were hand-me-downs from an aunty; I simply didn't feel the need to read them because I was lucky. If something wasn't going right or there were problems, at least they were there as a back-up, in addition to family and friends who had been-there-done-that.

Posie Patchwork said...

Well hello, fellow mother of 4 in 4 years including twins!! Trust me, there are plenty of people who don't have instinct & seek opinions about everything, why not parenting. I was clued in, my husband & i had 12 nieces & nephews before we started mass producing & breezed through it all, well him away, me at home.
So many books offer advice then a throw away "what ever feels right" but trust me, when they're little it's easy, it's as they get older, question things from food to clothes they're allowed to wear, you have to be on your toes & know your stuff.
Finally being relaxed, flexible & happy goes a long way further than life experience. I can assure you, after 2 uni degrees i didn't think i'd have 4 children by my 29th birthday!! They were all planned but pow, suddenly you're a family of 6. Twins are such a gift.
All the best, love Posie

Jess said...

Great post. I agree wholeheartedly. We Gen X's seem to have a need to do everything perfectly in order to 'right the wrongs' of previous is a big burden to wear.

I am not a fan of 'helicopter parenting' or hyper-parenting but there are times when I look at my actions or more so, my thoughts, fears etc and think "Wow, you really need to chill out and go with your gut"

There really are no 'rules' or one fits all all parenting style so out with the manuals and child rearing books, I say! I actually learn most from talking to lots of other parents and experimenting (which makes poor Izzy sound like a guinea pig! Poor first child!)

PS - thanks for your concern, I have missed this place and your blog :o) xx

Gill@OurParklife said...

Great post! I have been planning a similar-ish post for a while...I read somewhere about an online "Mum Course" you can sign up for and it got me thinking...

I totally agree with you...Help is good and it is nice to know there are options out there but really we have to give up the obsession with "perfect parenting" and just get on with parenting...There seems to be a coach for everything nowadays...Gen X have def. been brought up to believe an approved course is necessary in EVERYTHING....

I get advice from my parents, friends and even other bloggy mums...

Mandi said...

Thoughtful post...
I have always struggled with the perseption of being a 'good' parent/mother. Gen x has such a high expectation of is like we (gen x) need to be better then our parents were. You know our parents just did the best job they could, we are just doing the best job we can do, we all need to help each other and feel ok about getting love and support from those closest to us. Friends, parents and grandparents have got it right and have had hiccups along the way...they, I find are much nicer then a book to read which only tells me how my children should be by fitting into a box. (Which I just can't get them into!)
I have been to a sleep clinic with baby #2 and they were supportive, loving and encouraged help from family and friends.
Books and general advice on how life with children should be gave me terrible anxienty...I don't pick up self help books now, I call a friend, Mum or my sister...they know me the best:)

MandyE (Twin Trials and Triumphs) said...

What a great post! I try to remind myself occasionally that folks have been rearing babies for millions of years. And although I certainly want to give my children the best, to do the best for them, there is no hidden algorithm for "how to do it".

Being Me said...

Really thought-provoking post and something I've thought of, along with so many others.

One thing I tend to think is that we don't have the support network - many families are not 'together' and so therefore either can't or won't pass on the knowledge/share the load so that there is a little more room for parents to step back and think, or feel, what they need to for their children (I'm thinking of eras past when neighbours and families would have backyard bbq's and share care of children in those times, I'm sure that doesn't happen nearly as often these days).

Dunno if I'm making sense, sorry. I know what i mean! lol...

Life In A Pink Fibro said...

Loved this post. Still do. Still think we need to get over it.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad I read this post today. I guess that it is great to have it as a resource isn't it? It doesn't mean we have to use it. I remember going through a horror sleepless patch with my third and I kept looking at the number for the Ngala number on my fridge. I never picked up the phone to call them but I got comfort knowing it was there. Apologies. That probably made no sense whatsoever!

traceyb65 said...

parenting seems to hold this tension between what we love and accept as unique and worthwhile about our children, and the social groups that try to tesselate them into being something 'easy to label/manage' (yes, school, i'm staring at you).

it is in this area i have found other's advice and encouragement most useful, even if it is just the days when despairing at the latest 'misunderstanding', another Mum says, Your kids are always smiling, you do a great job … (true story). xt

Lucy said...

I am a good example of a girl that not only wants it all, but I want to it all to be "right".

BUT, when it comes to these little people that run circles around me, I learned, soon after Olivia was born, to let the books (of which I had purchased dozens) gather dust, and to surrender to the gut feel.

Love this post. Love it.

Anonymous said...

This is the best post I have ever read about modern parenting. Perfectly summed it up for me. We should all go back to Parenting version 1.0, because we've got ourselves all lathered up and we just need to listen to our kids and ourselves.
You're awesome.

Jodi Gibson said...

I so agree with you. There is too much pressure out there, too much judgment and too many views on what is the 'right' way to parent.
Parenting should be an instinct, and I still believe is, however with the pressure there is we have become wary of following our 'instincts' in fear of getting it wrong.
I am by far not the most perfect parents, and I don't have perfect kids, but I do like to think that I am teaching them right from wrong, good from bad, morals, values and respect. These are instinctual for me and no book teach that.
Great post.

Looking for Blue Sky said...

I guess I'm a baby boomer rather than a genxer, and I knew nothing about babies before having one. And being an expat I relied on books for even the basic information. But as I've got to know my children I do feel that I know them better than anyone and rarely look at parenting books now (admittedly my eldest is now 18!). Over from the fibro.

Cath said...

I think you are right in saying - "we're the ones who know our children". Except that I've often felt I didn't know my child. I've played the game both ways now - as a busy, career mum trying desperately to find balance, while honestly admitting that my son was being raised by his carers at daycare - and then having the opportunity to spend time with him in my new life as a WAHM, and finally get to "know" him. It's a gift I will be eternally grateful for.

Back in my crazy career days, I needed the books to help me through. Had he been a bad sleeper, I might have needed more help than that. Now, I have a much better idea of his needs - and can combine the knowledge I've picked up in books with the "knowing".

That said, I think we are one of the first generations that really have tried raising our kids alone. Kids don't play in the streets anymore, or hang out at a neighbours place, while mums share their experiences. This is especially true for working mums. We have lost a lot of contact with other mums through the "busy-ness" of our lives.

Thanks for such a thought provoking article.
Found you through the Fibro.

nathalie Brown said...

I totally agree with you parents are the ones that know their children.I am one of many childhood professionals who assist familes with their children.
When a parent calls me its not because they don't trust their own instinct or lack a parenting, or a nurture gene. Thay call for help because they are not able to handle the situation anymore.Thay have put their utmost into their parenting but something is still not right.They have reached the end of what they feel they can do. They are in tears at times, exhausted and with high level of stress, trying to help the child they love. Their child's behaviour is affecting the whole family and they want to know what they can do.
Society has changed so much from when our parents were children & therefore parenting today is different.
A small comparison is going to the shops, today, we strap our child into a car seat, plonk them in a trolley, bright lights, noises, distraction, as you navigate round the shopping centre, things to grab etc.. I'm not that old but remember a stroll to your corner shop, where the owner knew you , gave you an apple, you bought the groceries for the day and it wasn't as stressful as it is today.
Anyway I'm rambling now, so yes I agree that parents should be trusting their instincts because they know their child but we are a here to assist should it all get too much.

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