Today’s parents are the ultimate over achievers. Our children are involved in more activities than ever before, many parents work grueling long hours in order to provide all the wants and desires of their families, and are stricken with a sense of guilt-induced parenting that we are still not doing enough for and with our children.
A few decades ago, likely when you were growing up, your parents sent you out to the yard to play – unsupervised so they could have some time alone or drink a cocktail with friends. In fact, a long withstanding rule about children is that they are to be seen and not heard. But not anymore! Today, we are raising children that are the center of the Universe, who have no respect for all the things their parents are providing for them, and who live in a state of ‘want more,’ ‘have more,’ from a very young age.
This makes it very difficult for some parents to cherish the time they have WITHOUT their children.
A study in 2011 by the Daily Health Bulletin indicated that around 33% of all parents today are suffering from depression. This depression stems from many things, one major player being the parental guilt they feel that they are not doing a good job parenting their kids. Even more frightening, is that around 47% of all parents take some sort of nerve medication designed to help them feel more at ease, less stressed and happier so they can ‘enjoy’ their family time even more. And fewer parents today are taking any sort of reprieve from their kids such as vacations, or even date nights outs – than has been seen in years.
Two decades ago, it was commonplace for parents to hire the teenager down the street to baby-sit their children so mom and dad could go out for a nice meal and some drinks uninterrupted by the pitter patter of little feet. Today, fewer parents partake in inexpensive outings without their children, feeling compelled to include their children in every activity that they do. Instead of the couple taking a cruise for a week and leaving the kids with the grandparents, families are taking family Disney cruises.
Could this play some significant part in the fact that we have the all time highest divorce rates in history? Could this be why so many parents are depressed? Could it be that being overly committed to your children to the point that you feel nervous or anxious, or like a ‘bad parent’ when they are not around be one of the pitfalls of this new brand of parenting being reflected today?
At some point, you have to realize as a parent that not only are you a parent, but you are a person as well. It is frightening to think that there are parents in this world who have no other passion than their children. It is even more frightening to think that there are adults in this world who cannot enjoy themselves unless they are in the presence of their kids. And worse, even though mom and dad may be trying to make the most of the time they have with their children, they are putting quite a bit of pressure on their children.
Researchers believe that parents who do not have live outside of their children are causing their kids, even from a very young age, to feel responsible for their parent’s happiness. This can inhibit your child’s ambitions and behaviors, as they get older. And, according to some pretty staggering statistics, around 40% of children with behavioral problems that require medication have parents that are considered ‘helicopter parents’ or who are suffering from anxiety or depression disorders themselves.
The family dynamic has changed greatly over the years. Instead of sending the kids out of the house to play, to make tracks in the dirt, to explore, to have fun and to busy themselves, parents have become the cure all for boredom and have limited their children’s creativity and ability to self soothe. And in the process, parents have become invisible people who have a difficult time understanding their own wants and needs, and who have lost their own personal passion for life.
The bad news is that your children WILL grow up. At some point, your children will be individuals who will pursue lives of their own. When that happens, where will you be? Will you be trying to figure out who you are, why you are so unhappy, what went wrong with your relationship?
There are a great many studies and research that have proved, beyond a doubt – that a happy parent makes a happy child. While the new rule of thumb is to ‘put your kids first,’ the truth is that parents also need to put themselves first and seek out their own happiness and enjoyment to perfect and harmonize the home environment. Your kids may cling to you when they are little, but it is only natural for them to seek independence and they want you to have some relevance of your own happiness.
Cherishing time WITHOUT your children is not a bad thing to do. It doesn’t make you a bad parent to admit, and act upon the fact that your children are driving you crazy. In fact, it makes you human. And even better, when you and your children are reunited, it will better equip you to be the warm and loving, calm and collective parent that you WANT to be rather than the grumpy and always stressed out parent that your child see. No matter how much you are providing your children in the time and money department, it is the quality of that time spent that your children will remember.
So go. Do. Get away from those kids for a while and don’t look back. Enjoy the time you have without them. In the end, it will help you enjoy the time you have WITH them even more.