Some parents today are raising children named Kane, Egypt, Dragos, Cadence, Rocket (boys) and Huxley, Pippin, Kelby, Zona, Azza (girls). A change, right? But it’s just a glimpse of how parenting varies from one generation to the next. And I didn’t realize it when I first stepped into the grandparent role.
Piece of cake, I thought. I’ve been here before, raised three children. No problem. Wrong! There had been a minor revolution since my last child: closures on disposable diapers had changed, formula bottles now came in five uneasy pieces, and car seats?? After you learn how to attach all the moving parts, just hope the baby or toddler isn’t moving too. And forget the stroller–five different lessons, though weeks apart, never allowed my brain to go from step one through to YEAH, it’s up and running. I needed a class with a ceritficate to collapse and uncollapse that machine. CHANGES!
So even though the film, Parental Guidance, received mediocre reviews, when Billy Crystal and Bette Midler struggled with a grandchild whose different colored foods couldn’t touch or the one who could hit the T-ball over and over and never strike out, or the fact that sugar had never crossed the lips of their grandkids and “use your words” was not in their parenting vocabulary, I laughed–at myself.
I also began to wonder how my parents’ generation felt when they stepped into the grand- parenting role. Name selection had not changed dramatically. I went to school with Kathys, Carolyns, Marys, Jills, Jims and Steves and those same names were still being used when my children arrived. Did my mother berate me because I sometimes put my first child in a playpen so I could use the bathroom? No. Car seats? We had them, but they certainly weren’t as safe as the ones today and my children road bikes without helmets until I had a Millennial child.
Impassioned parental food choices didn’t hit my radar, until I developed low blood sugar and had to avoid the white stuff. I even went so far as to slap a WHITE POISON label on the sugar canister. But that didn’t stop my mother and my mother-in-law from presenting sweets to my children whenever possible.
Changes in how we parent and care for our children are definitely connected to the speed of technology–we build something new and then we must learn about the consequences of what we have built. Cars go faster, speed limits increase–so car seats have to protect better. The bikes I rode had no gears; the scooter we owned could hardly get down a city block. But today? Kids whiz along on skateboards, roller blades, high-tech bikes and they need head protection. Research about concussions confirms that.
As for helicopter parents who hover too much–it’s a symptom of the decade. News bombards us from every device we own (phone, computer, tablet). Even if parents wanted to, they could not be blind to the scary, negative things that affect our present society. It’s why some children are required to go from school bus to home; there they stay inside and snack, play computer games and get fat. Other children connect the day of the week with some organized activity that doesn’t allow them to dig in the dirt in their own backyard. Complicated?? Very. Easy to change. No.
There are always books written by experts and though I read Drs. Spock and William Sears, it was often my mother who had the answers when my child was sick, injured or crying uncontrollably. And it was Rita, a close friend, a mother and a nurse. Most of us don’t raise our children in a vacuum. But my husband and I did have to evaluate advice and discover what would work best for our nuclear family.
When an emergency occurred it was sometimes learning on a wing and a prayer. We made decisions; crossed the proverbial fingers and went. That’s why parents like to say children are resilient. If it is true, the truth is only to a point. Because it’s a statement parents make to cover themselves.
Then there’s the awful phrase children are like pancakes, the first one… I can’t even finish the phrase. Parents are to do their best with the first, middle and last–but as we went along, parenting habits did change right within our family. And I think ACKNOWLEDGING that some things just don’t work should be a major part of good parenting.
Like deciding not to tell our first child about Santa Claus, the worry being the awful disappointment when the child finally learns the truth. But on Christmas morning after our daughter had enjoyed all the gifts under the tree, my husband asked her who had given her such wonderful presents. “Santa give it,” our two-year-old said brightly. Okay. Experiment over.
Now that we are blessed with grandchildren and can claim the awesome title of grandparent, we are in love. (Despite the changes!) The three of them are our legacy and there are times when we find our children and ourselves in their inclinations, habits and joyful acceptance of life. Yes, there are funny T-shirts that proclaim What happens at Grandma’s Stays at Grandma’s–but we do our best to honor the parenting decisions of their parents. We are just joyful to have them.
There were a few times when I slipped and used some babyisms from my own parenting. Initially these were frowned upon, but ever so often I now hear them used and it just underlines that even though a book or a baby expert might tell you NOT to do a thing, like using baby talk, what is done with love and used responsibility and properly cannot hurt a family. On the contrary, it binds them closer together. That’s what lullabies do and books and poetry and prayers and of course favorite blankets and stuffed animals. It’s a world created for the new child who uses it for comfort. Soon enough that child grows and discards it for the bigger, more engaging world. Grandparents are right there watching the progression–armed with love, experience and wisdom. Raising Kane? Who knows. Two of our children could still think Kane or Zona is a good name choice. After all, parenthood changes!
Thanks to Google Images