Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Are Parents Too Neurotic?

In 'My Mother Gives Me Parenting Advice From Nazis' Jessica Grose wrote about how her mother thinks "we’re too concerned about breast-feeding, and too worried about buying the right strollers, bottles and swaddles for optimal infant development" and how "they drank through [their] pregnancies, let us sleep on our stomachs, and mostly formula fed us, and we turned out pretty much fine, didn’t we?"

She quotes Ann Hulbert, the author of “Raising America: Experts, Parents and a Century of Advice About Children,” who says “with every generation (over the past century at least), parenting norms have become more obsessive and anxiety inducing.”

She asks, considering that "babies are resilient, and there’s probably more than one “right” way to raise a child" are today's parents too neurotic about their children?

Is that really the question parents should be asking themselves? As being neurotic is defined as some form of irrational fear, isn't the more relevant question whether or not the underlying concern is warranted? Where does concern end and fear begin, and how much of either is healthy under any given set of circumstances?

Whether or not a parent's fears and concerns are warranted is largely based on their objectives. For some parents turning out "pretty much fine" may be sufficient, and that's a personal choice. Just like some car owners will do everything in their power to maintain their car to ensure it runs perfectly, and CEOs will strive for optimal performance and growth in their businesses, some parents may want to make sure they provide the best conditions they can in order to maximize their children's opportunities for success, however they define them. That's not to suggest over-parenting, as what it takes to provide these conditions is clearly nuanced and evolving.

Parents must be careful that in an effort to be less neurotic they don't sacrifice their concern with nurturing and raising their children the best they can.

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