What do you think of modern parenting

Modern parenting

Never before have people been so free to choose whether or not to have children. But what does it mean to get involved with a child? And what changes does it bring with it?

The freedom to be a parent

Freedom is an exclusively positive term and none of us understandably wants to give up even a tiny bit of freedom. Nevertheless, it also brings with it difficult and ambivalent feelings, because we are responsible for our own decisions and never know whether the other way would not have been the better one. Happy are those who find an unequivocal answer for themselves to the question about children at an early stage. For most of them, the decision is preceded by a long weighing and searching. Looking for the right partner, the right circumstances. And weigh up what the change “child” would mean for your own life and whether you are really ready for it or when the right time is for it. Perhaps it helps to at least realize that it is completely okay to grapple with this decision for a longer period of time, even if our parents at the time apparently managed to do it all in a relaxed and casual way. We live in a different time and under different circumstances.

Should one put children in this world?

Well, for lack of alternatives: yes. People had and are having children under the most difficult of circumstances, in wars, in famine and on the run. In the past, of course, because they didn't have the opportunity to use contraception. But children are not the icing on the cake of life that you allow yourself under perfect circumstances - which never exist - but life itself and its continuation. If it were possible to take out happiness guarantee insurance for your child, most parents would take advantage of it. But there are no guarantees and no insurance for that. You can only do your best to protect your child and give him a solid inner and outer basis, with which he then goes out into this - one and only - world.

How ready do you have to be beforehand?

There is a widespread misconception that one has to feel “ready”, or even better, already feel like a mother or father, if one decides to take the risk of being a parent. But the task is so big and life-changing that it can only be taken in tiny steps: the decision to want a child. The positive pregnancy test (usually months, sometimes even years later). A whole season goes by before a tummy is even visible in the woman. Regular examinations. What gender is it? What should it be called? Where should it come from? Antenatal classes. The last few weeks of pregnancy with a tummy that needs its own pillow in bed. And at some point finally the birth. There are countless small steps to hold that tiny bundle of life in your arms. And then it starts in the first place. And even at this point in time, no one has to “be able” to become a parent. A midwife looks after the new parents, gives tips on the first steps and comes by for weeks or months for support and care. So becoming a parent is a very long process in which you gradually grow into this new role.

A meteorite called Kind hits

Well, it's not that bad. But a child changes your own life tremendously. Not only the external circumstances, but it also triggers many internal processes and changes. Suddenly life is no longer just about itself, this tiny bundle of life is taking over you emotionally. But that sounds more dramatic than it is, because you are still the master or wife of your life, only that through having a child you get even deeper into this life. Many mothers and fathers talk about the hardships of everyday life with a toddler, but you also grow with it and learn things that seem difficult at first, easier to handle and with greater inner distance. In addition, there is a kind of meta-level that arises from the deep love for one's own child and also the feeling of humility in front of this miracle of life, which carries one through many everyday hardships.

partnership

Many partnerships can get into a crisis when a man and woman become father and mother. While relationships and marriages used to be concluded for economic reasons and social expectations, the foundation of a partnership today is primarily based on a voluntary and internal encounter. Love, romance and passion are the pillars of a relationship and they are made to shake tremendously by a baby or toddler. It is paradoxical, but although a newborn baby sleeps almost around the clock, it keeps the parents busy around the clock. There is no more time for togetherness. Another point is the stress factor. The sleepless nights, the screaming and whining, a little later the nerve-wracking defiant phase bring the most relaxed people to their limits. In addition, caring for a child means countless steps that one should try to distribute as fairly as possible in order to avoid conflicts from the outset. It is advisable to start thinking about how to continue creating islands of togetherness during pregnancy, so that the inner connection as a couple is maintained in the new everyday life.

In addition, men and women have to redefine their gender roles because the classic distribution of roles has become obsolete. This of course brings many advantages, especially for women, since they no longer have to put their own fulfillment behind family life. And modern men want them too, the self-confident woman who earns her own money. This is a great opportunity for a new and fairer partnership. Where justice is not necessarily equality, since people are different. Every couple who becomes parents should take the liberty of individually defining for themselves which division is fair and coherent and just for them.

Work and child

A child is a full-time job in the first few years of life. With overtime and night shifts. So if you work full-time in addition to looking after a child, you have two jobs, and those who work part-time have one and a half jobs. Many - especially mothers - are stuck in this double burden for years, because parents need both salaries to live. Others, on the other hand, cannot sit out for long because otherwise they would have to fear for their job. And many "only" feel that their work as a mother or father is not very fulfilling, especially since the social recognition for it is also very low. And so it happens that many parents in the so-called rush hour of life, in those years of life in which everything comes together - children, careers, and their own parents may need support - come to the end of their tether and can no longer enjoy anything. it just works and fulfills its tasks. Our state is actually asked to create better framework conditions for parents so that each individual does not have to fight their own individual struggle. There have already been attempts and proposals to reduce parents' working hours to 30 hours a week in order to straighten out the so-called rush hour of life. Now the courage to implement should also follow. In the best case, work and child can complement each other. Because work helps you not to lose sight of yourself and your goals. And because family life is a contrast to it that strengthens your back.

Networking and community

"You need a village to raise a child"is an African proverb. In the past, this “village” existed right from the start: the parents and grandparents lived nearby or even in the same house and one was often inevitably involved in a community of religious values. Just a few decades ago it would have been an affront not to have your child baptized. These “coercive” communities have broken up and dispersed. Many young people are moving away from their hometowns and religion is for most of them no role in their lives. It is a great liberation to free oneself from given values ​​and life models. At the same time, you are faced with the task of looking for and creating new communities yourself. Especially when you have children and you cannot and do not want to pay a babysitter all the time, you are happy about any support, and a good network can absorb a lot, especially when you are at work. And even if you are not employed and take a longer break to look after children, it is a blessing to exchange ideas with other adults.

The impossible claim to perfection

Parents nowadays have to listen to a lot of criticism: If a mother goes back to work early, she is a bad mother, she stays at home, a mother hen. It is not enough to go to the playground with the child, one should also find it fulfilling to dig in the sandpit. Fathers should be modern and committed, but at the same time the main burden of supply rests with them. Helicopter parents. Latte machiato mothers. Etc. Etc. ... There is only one thing that helps: to fade out all the talk and find your own - subjective - center. The numerous parenting guides all believe they know what is “right” and “wrong”. However, children have an incredibly fine sense of how sincere you treat them, so it makes little sense to want to behave in a way that is supposedly correct, but only pretend. Parents also have a right to their rough edges. The vast majority of parents love their children and try very hard to be good parents. And they not only have the right but also the duty to continue to live their own life, because parents act far more as role models than as educators on their children. And what could be better than setting an example of happiness for your children?

Do children give meaning to life?

Since there is no overriding meaning in life, everyone can only find and create meaningfulness in their own life. Many parents see their children as their purpose in life, and that is not because they would not be able to do anything with themselves if the children were not there. Even if we are highly civilized, we are still a part of nature and this - human - nature is designed for reproduction and preservation of our own species. That is why it is understandable and plausible that one's own offspring is perceived as meaning in life. The religious scholar Michael Blume points in his book Religion and demography points out that people who live their lives under the “roof” of a religion have on average more children than people who are less religious. He justifies this, among other things, with the fact that faith tends to move people to renounce many things that children mean.

Higher values

If this “roof” is removed for non-religious people, what could induce them to accept the sacrifices and high costs in order to raise children in their prime? Everyday life with small children brings many hardships: Sleeping in becomes a wistful memory from an old life, life is much more controlled and conversations without interruptions become a rare moment of happiness. And yet parents are not unhappy in these difficult first years of life for their children, because nature has given them something very important that carries them through: the love for their child. Actor and father of six Bill Murray once said that after the first exhausting years of life, children are increasingly becoming the people you want to be with most.

In addition, you get to know yourself and life from many new sides. It makes self-confident to take responsibility for a new life and it also has a deep dignity to look after and care for a little person. This gives life a completely different commitment.

See the world with new eyes again

Even if it sounds trite, but through having a child you actually get to know the world all over again. For them, the world is a place of magic to be discovered. And watch for minutes as the garbage is dumped into the garbage truck or a snail moves a few centimeters. They love animals and nature. Are curious about everything. They have not yet been "civilized" to sit around and their urge to move is unrestrained. Children also give life a completely new humorous component. They ask the craziest things, because no stone is left unturned for them, and they make comments that undermine everything we believe to be given with an innocent, honest expression. Suddenly the toothbrush is in the fridge and the shoes are cleaned with spit on a summer's day and put in front of the door in the hope that the “(Niko) louse” will bring something over from time to time. Irrationality comes into life and there is a lot to laugh about. In addition, children show us the pure real human being: They cry when they are hurt and laugh happily again shortly afterwards. They hit the neighbors child on the head when it steals something and fall asleep right there where tiredness overtakes them. You are more present than we can get with the best meditation. They show us so much, consciously and unconsciously.

When are you a family?

A few decades ago there was one clear answer to this: father, mother and the children. Times have - fortunately - changed and there are many equal ways of being family today. Biological parents with children, blended families, single parents. Homosexual partnerships are - it seems - at least on the way to obtaining an equal right of adoption. As is so often the case, politics takes a little longer to legally anchor something that has arrived in society. Adults, children, love, responsibility. These could be the solid, immovable ingredients for a modern family. Because family is no longer defined by its external appearance, but by what it is essentially about and what holds it together.