When I first became a parent, my mother would chime in with kid-raising tips. Some of it was helpful; some annoying but for the most part there was little in her experience of raising my brother and myself to clue her in on how to deal with such modern-day (modern for my generation) issues as Saturday morning cartoons on TV and the ads that accompanied them.
I am my mother now. My Saturday morning TV issue pales compared to what my adult children have been dealing with in raising their children: Limiting screen time and keeping them safe from the Internet's pernicious access to pornographic, violent or misinformed material. The pandemic came along and made everything worse. And now comes an unpredictable economy at a time where school shootings aren't rare and classrooms are political battlegrounds. Even if my children wanted my advice on these issues (they haven't asked), I would have no previous experience from which to draw.
"There's almost not a word to express the stress parents are under right now. 'Overwhelmed' doesn't cut it. It's beyond anything we've ever experienced." This is what the founder of the Parent Coaching Institute told a reporter at an Axios newsletter.
The newsletter takes note of the specifics of what may be overwhelming the parents of our grandchildren (Click on the embedded links for more details):
The rising cost of gas, groceries and other daily expenses. These top the list of stressors, according to a March poll
Children have questions about the world's wars.
Sadness about the relationships and opportunities the pandemic is robbing from them.
Fear and anger about the planet warming.
Clashes over teaching about racism and U.S. history
A renewed debate over gun control
Having issues that affect kids and parents at the center of American politics.
If there is a silver lining, Axios tells us, it's that "hard times can be opportunities to strengthen relationships." That's backed up by census data that reports that parents say they've become closer to their children during COVID lockdowns and that they are eating more meals together; parents of younger children say they are reading to their kids more often.
All of which makes me feel that the pillars of our old-fashioned age of parenting--bedtime stories as a nightly ritual; dinnertime together as a daily tradition--are relevant. Plus, we still have one piece of timeless advice worth offering our stressed children: Take care of yourself. Your children need you rested and ready--or at least somewhere close to that.
Painting: Ivan Canu, Ferryman