My friend Katie (Reinlein) Schwaneke recently shared an interesting NYT article by Jennifer Conlin, called "The Non-Joie of Parenting." It was so interesting because Conlin is one of the few (from what I have read) that could identify with the perspective of Pamela Druckerman, author of recently headline-happy Bringing Up Bebe. Like Druckerman, Conlin is an American native, who raised her children abroad (specifically, in France, Belgium, and England). I have heard bits-and-pieces of commentary regarding Druckerman's assertions, but mostly critical (perhaps due to pro-American slant of our media). I have heard native French parents who claim life with toddlers is not as peaceful, happy, and smooth-sailing as Druckerman suggests...or...skeptical pediatricians who claim it is not the French-trumps-American parenting style, as the author suggests, but rather generational: prior-trumps-current parenting methods.
Certainly all parents, American or French, veteran or new, have their own opinion about what parenting styles are considered "better" or "worse" than others. But, what I found so interesting about Conlin's article, is her suggestion that the source of these parenting differences lies in the rushed American culture, the busting-at-the-seams with to-do lists, activities, year-round-traveling sports teams, the "Race to Nowhere"....(is there a documentary out there with this title?) These themes seem to reappear again and again among current parenting periodicals. As I have stated in prior posts, I am all for sports, extracurricular activities, etc., as I participated (and LOVED) so many growing up....But given the time constraints imposed by our solar system (only 24 hrs in a day), what gives? Family dinners? Family vacations? Family game-night (yeah right)? As my friend Katie mentioned, her family recently forfeited their regular Sunday afternoon bike ride to make time for Kindergarten batting-cage practice? What?
I truly do not know the answer. It must have something to do with balance, moderation, prioritizing. Easier said than done. However, I do wish our culture could chill a bit and learn to appreciate the European's talent for smelling the roses, admiring the view, relishing the long dinners with family and friends, enjoying the chocolate, the cheese, the wine (all in moderation of course ; ))...Although I have not raised my children abroad, my travels overseas have given me a glimpse into this culture. I can only imagine the magnification impact of having children in a more laid-back environment. But of course, Americans would be quick to point out that their 6-week per year vacation policies are excessive, and their limited (35/40-hour) work weeks, etc., are far too restrictive for economic growth/productivity. Yet, perhaps we should ask, are they enjoying life more?
I would love to hear what veteran American parents would say on this topic. Feel free to share your insight/opinions/comments, as applicable!
Link to article is attached below...