Lately I have been struggling a lot with my parenting – wanting to protect my children from hurt and disappointment, wanting to make opportunities open up for them – and while I know:
1) These are normal desires for parents,
2) It is important for children to feel hurt, disappointment, frustration, etc, because this is what helps them learn the skills for life and makes them better people,
I still find myself wondering how my mother managed it. She seemed to take for granted that I would figure things out for myself, and that it was not her role in life to solve my problems. It wasn’t like she was cruel or hard-hearted, just practical.
I am not sure if the difference is generational or temperamental. In other words, did her generation believe child-raising should be more laissez-faire than my generation? Infant/child mortality was higher when she was a child, and people often didn’t expect that all their children would grow to adulthood and often had many children so that there would be enough help around the farm/house (as well as because there was less availability of birth control); children were expected to start working earlier in life and fewer children would go on to higher education; parents were busy with a great deal of physical labor (no labor saving devices), leaving children to care for themselves and each other; it was a very different world from the one I grew up in and these realities would have all shaped parenting behaviors.
Or was it about temperament, her personal temperament, which was kind but quiet? She chose to have children when she was older and had an established career – in a time when few women did that. Because of her outside interests and activities, she may have had less energy to invest in micro-managing her children’s lives, and less support in the workplace to do that (other working women were mostly single or childless or felt they could not talk about being a parent because this was a man’s world where men did not talk about their children and homes) (there certainly was no flexibility in work hours to attend school functions!).
It would be interesting to really have her perspective on this, as I struggle to make sure I don’t act like a helicopter parent!!