Parenting Has Become a Turn-off

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As I’ve written in the past, I’ve long felt that whether I would have children would depend on finding a relationship in which kids made sense for us both.

Though I haven’t yet found “the” relationship, I can say that today’s parenting culture has nearly frightened me off the notion.

Parenting today has turned into a hypercompetitive sport.

Parents one-up each other on the best of everything for their offspring: Parties, nurseries and kids’ rooms, couture toddler wear, toys and electronic games, summer camps, vacations, schools, cars in high school, and so on.

Giving children the best means ensuring that Tommy and Lucy never feel anything but cosseted, necessitating time to drop them off and pick them up at school—heaven forbid they face the school bus—and ensuring they don’t spend too much time with babysitters or in day care—how dull. Any level of real or imagined discomfort or stress that parents can ameliorate, they ameliorate.

Also, it means scheduling little Tommy and Lucy for a kajillion activities, ranging from a sport or two each to scouting to crafts and tutoring and more.  A neighbor once told me that she hadn’t talked to her husband in two weeks because they had divided the kids’ after-school responsibilities between them. By the time they got home each night, they just went to bed.

I wonder whether children ever experience—gasp!—boredom in today’s parenting era.

To give the kiddoes all these fantastic things—material and experiential—parenting turns adults into slaves to their children. Today’s parents subsume everything other than work and kids. They have no personal lives. They have no side interests. They have no hobbies. They have no time for each other or their marriage. They make decisions—all decisions—based on what the children want.

Kids run the household—and their parents’ lives.

Healthy for children, who need to learn that the world doesn’t revolve around them? No. Healthy for marriages, which need quality time? Nuh uh. Healthy for individuals, who need personal actualization? Nope.

And yes, I could do it my own way. I could exit the parenting rat race. I advocate doing so in every other facet of life, absolutely.

However, every good parent loves her children. And children cannot understand the bigger, broader picture—even explaining doesn’t truly drive it home. (Only life experience will.) What if a child sees other parents’ one-upsmanship and wonders why his mom and dad don’t do the same? What if he feels less loved? Less supported? Less advantaged?

Because a parent can opt out of the parenting rat race, but a child cannot. And children care too much about what their peers think. If their parents don’t act like other parents, especially when it comes to them, children may feel alienated.

What do you think?