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Over-Parenting: We're All Getting It Wrong

There’s been lots of chatter this week in response to Lisa Belkin’s Sunday Times article announcing the end of...

There’s been lots of chatter this week in response to Lisa Belkin’s Sunday Times article announcing the end of “over-parenting.”

Her basic point is that after more than a decade of fetishizing, second-guessing and micro-managing our parenting, we seem to have hit a new phase marked by slow parenting, bad parenting and free-range parenting. Even the once sacrosanct area of breastfeeding is now open to question.

And at least some people are cheering this news.

For some, like Salon’s Amy Benfer, the so-called helicopter parenting trend fostered competition between kids of affluent parents while ignoring the basic needs of the rest.

For others, like Free Range Blogger Lenore Skenazy, over-parenting  infantalized adults while at the same time rendering them nervous wrecks.

I know that at least one friend of mine will be jumping up and down with joy. This mother of three recently wrote me a note saying that while she objects to book burning in principle, she’d make an exception for What To Expect When You’re Expecting…in fact she’d host the barbecue in her own back yard.

I myself will own up to having read the odd parenting manual over the past eight and a half years. I’ve also indulged in the occasional bad parent essay.

But the single best piece of parenting advice I ever got came from my first pediatrician. I went into his office one day stressing out for the 695th time about something I was sure I was doing wrong with my (then) newborn son.¬† He looked me in the eye and said, “Of course you’re doing it wrong! We all are. We just won’t know it for another 50 years.”

I liked this advice so much that I asked my husband if, God forbid, something horrible should ever befall him, he’d be OK with me marrying this guy. He said yes. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of telling this to the good Doctor, who wisely responded: “OK, but we better not tell my wife.”


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Image: Mommy Sandwich – Week 2 my kids and me by Photogra Tree via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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  1. Katie June 4, 2009 at 7:18 pm #

    Best parent advice I ever received: ‘Don’t worry, they don’t break easily.’


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