9 Ways American Parents Are Doing It Right

It seems like the latest sport is bashing American parents, and anyone with a theory about how we’re Doing It All Wrong seems to be able to get a book deal these days. (It reminds me of the internet back in 2002, frankly.) And then the media latches onto it and takes it seriously, and we start worrying about every move we’re making–what time our kids go to bed, if we breastfeed or don’t and how long and how we quit and where we do it, whether we drink a glass of wine in the same room with our kids or a different room. Pretty much anyone other than Americans are better than we are–people with animal characteristics, people from other countries, anyone else but us.

Well, I call horseshit.

We’re not perfect, the parents of America, and sometimes we make grand mistakes. But for the most part, we’re doing a good job. It’s time to talk about what we’re doing right, even if there’s no book deal in talking about our strengths.

And now, 9 Ways American Parents Are Doing It Right:

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  • We like our kids. 1 of 9
    We like our kids.
    We genuinely enjoy spending time with them. When they're babies we can't wait for them to start talking to us, and when they're talking we listen to what they say. We hang out with them on purpose, go on vacations with them, and count them as our friends when they're grown up
  • We’re engaged in parenting. 2 of 9
    We're engaged in parenting.
    We take parenting seriously. It's not just something we do when we hit a certain age because we're expected to. We choose, carefully, to have children, and from the time we know we'll be parents we learn as much as we can about the process. Some say it verges on overinformed, but why wouldn't we take the most important task of our lives seriously?
  • We can laugh at ourselves. 3 of 9
    We can laugh at ourselves.
    Sometimes things are really, really funny. Sometimes if we didn't laugh we'd cry. But we laugh an awful lot considering how little sleep we're getting.
  • If something’s not working, we try something else. 4 of 9
    If something's not working, we try something else.
    We don't always get it right the first time. But we keep trying, learning from our mistakes, until we give our children what they need.
  • We’re all mixed together. 5 of 9
    We're all mixed together.
    We're lucky to have people of all different backgrounds all living right next to each other in our country. That means we're always working it out, showing our kids how to interact and create community. Sometimes dialogue breaks down, but when it does we regroup and start talking again.
  • We listen to our kids. 6 of 9
    We listen to our kids.
    How they feel matters to us. We teach them to express and manage their emotions and speak with honesty and confidence. Some say it's overindulgent, but we know we're raising adults who can articulate and work toward their own goals.
  • We’re not afraid to get messy. 7 of 9
    We're not afraid to get messy.
    Since American culture tends to be informal, we probably have a leg up already in the getting messy department. But we parents seem especially willing to get wet, sandy, or full of paint to have fun with our children. The saying "a dirty child is a happy child" also extends to us as parents.
  • We do it all with very little help. 8 of 9
    We do it all with very little help.
    Little maternity leave, governmental policies designed to break us, and a general lack of value placed on family time, but we still show up every single day and teach our kids to be strong and independent.
  • We get what’s essential. 9 of 9
    We get what's essential.
    We do what matters. We grow good people.

 

Magda Pecsenye write about parenting at AskMoxie.org and about co-parenting after divorce with her ex-husband at When The Flames Go Up.

Follow her on Twitter at @AskMoxie and join the AskMoxie Facebook page.

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