"This parenting business is hard," I was sharing this with a fellow Mom, who agreed and then said "But we love it don't we?!". I love being a Mom and often reflect on how different parenting has become in the current era. In some ways better and in some ways maybe not. I was remembering how growing up in Astoria most of us children of immigrants share a common parenting history. We had parents who scolded you when you fell, as if it was on purpose and you meant to get dirty just to annoy them. Their rules for us dated back to their own childhoods and did not advance with time. Our relatives back in Europe were much less strict with their own children than ours were in this "foreign to them" land. Our parents did not discuss they yelled just as easily as they kissed you in public, both mortifying events at certain ages. They also had no problems disciplining your friends and asking if you enjoyed doing stupid things...sure that they could say in English. I remember a friend of mine had his car stolen and was sharing this with us and some American friends....those of us from the immigrant side knew that his parents would ask things like "did you leave the car open ?" and "why would you get your car stolen?"....all very natural reactions from our experience. Our American friends I believe may have needed an extra therapy session on our behalf. We had curfews until college, particularly if you were a girl. We had no sleepovers, "why do you need to sleep over since you have your own bed?", except for the rare occasion and then they had to know, speak to, and confirm all details with the other parents. Ask any of us and though we parent differently in many ways than they did we would not change our parents for the world...besides they still feel it is ok to tell us what we are not doing "like we should".
Our parents did not arrange play dates for us, they sent us outside, we knocked on doors until voila play date found. They did not make us wear seat belts, often held us in their laps in the front seat of the car, and smoked around us. They did not slather us with sunscreen and had definite opinions that overruled our own. Yet here we are, having learned to do many of the things they did not (seat belts, car seats, sunscreen, no smoking) and hear them in our voices when we say to our children "stop that", "because I said so" and set rules. We live in a world where caution and danger are the most commonly used terms in parenting. I think our parents were imperfect and could have done many things better and acknowledge that my sons will say the same about me. Most of us look back on their behaviors and smile, most of us are grateful that they did not let us make some choices as they would have been hard to recover from, most of us hope to be as loved and respected as our parents are to us. We are not our parents we are our parents version 2.0....improved, fixed some system glitches, and made the application easier to use.