by Amelia Ellsworth • Freelance Writer
What does it mean to be a parent in 2019? There are problems with scheduling all the family activities, having to deal with blended families and divorce, giving your kids all the best opportunities, and of course getting them off their devices and outside more. So many challenges. But has parenting really changed over the years? It has. Let’s look at some of the trends for parenting in 2019.
So long coddling parent:
According to Parenting The Modern Family, their number one trend is parents wanting a closer relationship with their children without raising kids who are dependent on them forever. This trend is very interesting because a closer relationship between child and adult can have an unforeseen side effect: the child likes being the child and prefers to stay home and puts off adulthood until later. Or rather, they avoid important development hurtles which would help them develop confidence, independence and the desire to leave the nest. In the past this resulted in a generation of children who didn’t leave home upon graduation but continued to live on in the parental house hold. Generational researcher Jean Twenge calls this generation the iGen kids (born between 1995-2007) and describes them as “a less confident, more uncertain, more anxious generation than Millennials were at the same age. That may at least partially be due to their adolescence spent on their smartphones.” (www.jeantwenge.com).
Not all facts about iGen kids are gloomy. There are some strong points such as they tend to be more inclusive in their communities, they have strong work ethics and are less likely to put themselves at risk.
To counteract this coddling trend, present day parents are focusing on creating self confidence. For tips on how to encourage your child to be independent, check out the Parenting the Modern Family article ‘Four Signs Your Teen Is Avoiding Adulthood’.
Prepared to face the world:
This second trend is directly linked to the previous one. With this trend parents have seen the result of raising unmotivated children and are working to counteract this. All parents want the best for their children including developing a healthy independence so that one day their child will be equipped to leave the home. This is a delicate balance between nurturing and neglect. Currently parents are trying to curb the trend of over protectiveness by creating a safe environment where children can learn how to solve problems and develop the confidence to try new things.
Case in point: I saw two children one day on bicycles, both crying. I stopped to check what was wrong and discovered their parents had sent them out for a bike ride. Seems like a wonderful adventure so why all the tears? The younger boy was crying because he thought his older sister had made a wrong turn and they were lost. The older sister was crying because she was experiencing stress due to the fact that she was responsible for getting them home and also dealing with her brother’s fear. Was this an example of thoughtless, uncaring parents? It was not. The kids were in a safe neighbourhood and not far from home. This was a great opportunity for them to deal with a challenging situation and end up back home where their parents would comfort them and congratulate them on the lessons they learned and their bravery. It was a good first step towards preparing their children for the inevitable exit.
Everyone learns from failure and from success. Success is a better teacher but everyone must learn to deal with failure too. It’s better to learn these important lessons in a loving household where parents can soothe, encourage and give emotional support.
Apps for everything:
Let’s face it, almost every household is a blended household and most have two working parents. This presents so many challenges and the least of those is how to cope with your divorce and keep on top of all the scheduling that is ever present in our busy lives. We tend to want to be super parents and do everything right all the time. The problem is we don’t know everything, we often don’t have time to pick up the skills we need, and we can’t be everywhere at once. So even though we are better now at giving ourselves a break and some much needed me time, we still need to deal with challenges. Fortunately, there’s an app for almost everything you need help with.
Are you finding it hard to keep on top of the many schedules which includes keeping your ex informed? Well, there’s an app for that. Do you need help dealing with your divorce and all the paperwork involved? Well, there’s an app for that too. Here’s some handy apps you can check out to see if any of them will assist in making your life easier.
Check out the article by Claire Gillespie called ‘The 7 Best Co-parenting Apps Out There’. She gives you a run down on the following apps: 2houses, Amicable, Coparently, Our Family Wizard, Cozi, Talking Parents, and Google Calendar. www.sheknows.com.
Men spend more time with their kids:
This is one of my favourite trends although it might be because there’s more single dads. However, I love the idea that fathers are making it a priority to spend more time with their children. I know that fathers were already doing this before. It just seems like a shift in consciousness has taken place and fathers are viewing their roles slightly differently. I feel this is so important to the development of healthy children because kids need a great example to live up to (and yes, a great example from both parents not just dads). Having fathers find more time for their children on a daily basis will enable a generation of well-rounded children who are ready to face the world and be great dads (or moms) and great leaders. At least that’s my hope.
In the past (I’m thinking way back to the 1950’s) it seems like many fathers viewed their roles as bringing home the bacon, mowing the lawn on Saturday then falling asleep on the couch Sunday afternoon. According to Heather Marcoux (www.mother.ly), dads are now spending three times as much time with their children than previous generations of dads. She goes on to say dads want to participate equally in the household, they suffer from dad guilt (they worry they are not doing enough) and dads need support too. One of their main struggles is the work-life barrier. They want to climb the corporate ladder but also spend time with their family. The corporate world may take some time to fall in line with the new social consciousness that is forming in our families. Until then, let’s cheer on our dads and help them out when we can. Go dads, go!
Who’s staying home with the children:
Okay, I must come clean and admit that maybe this isn’t a trend in the western world right now (and I wish it was) but it’s on the rise and we’re going to see more and more of this in the future. U.S. Census data says that in one out of five households with a stay at home parent, that parent is dad (www.zillow.com).
I know a woman who is married with two children and she works full time while her husband stays at home with the kids. They agreed early in their relationship to switch roles and they love it. This is very cool in my books. I realize this isn’t possible for many households as often two incomes are needed, but I think there’s a shift starting to happen in this area.
Why not consider other parenting options? In the Netherlands 26.8% of men and 76.6% of women work part time. (www.economist.com). Why am I telling you this? Because this country also consistently ranks as one of the best places in the world to live and Dutch kids are among the happiest in the world, according to Unicef, that’s why. More than half of the population work part time and yet they have a higher quality of life. This stems from their state working closely with employees to ensure that part timers enjoy similar legal status as the full-time employees. This has even been written into their laws.
So why not consider other parenting role options? I know we don’t live in the Netherlands but why not be different and create change?
Living a simpler life:
This trend can be directly linked to earnings but it doesn’t have to be. I’m an avid watcher of Tiny House videos and the overall thing people say when they talk about their new lifestyle is that it’s a simpler life. Because they have downsized so much to fit into a tiny space, they are forced to value their items and live with only what they love. This in turns makes them happier. It’s the reverse attitude of keeping up with the Jones. They don’t need all the toys and gadgets. The interesting spin off is they are outside more, interacting with people more and generally happier. Strange how that worked.
Young couples who are just starting their families are finding it harder and harder to get affordable housing so they are looking for other, creative options. They are also looking for a more sustainable and healthier lifestyle. All of this leads to fewer belongings, a conscientious use of utilities and more connectedness to the earth and where our food comes from.
It should be noted that in North America many people are actively searching for ways to earn money from home and scrap the nine-to-five job altogether. This not only gives the parent more freedom but also allows us to change how we parent. In fact, I met a mother who choose to be a stay at home parent because she wanted to home school her two daughters.
Not all of us have circumstances that afford us these options but whether it’s a simpler life with less things, home schooling your child, or having the male role model stay home with the kids, the world is looking on with less criticism and more interest and acceptance. This leads me on to another popular parenting trend, how parents are dealing with over cautious children and kids that spend too much time by themselves on their devices.
Unsupervised play time outside:
I remember running amok in my neighbourhood with my parents only having a vague idea where I was and when I’d be home (usually for dinner). How times have changed. Now, getting kids off the devices and outside is a big challenge. The result of our inactive children manifests in all kinds of social, emotional and health problems. Specifically, unsupervised, unstructured play or ‘Risky’ play is on the rise. Risk seems to be a word we avoid but some risk is necessary for the healthy development of children. Risky play means things done with speed, or sharp objects, or involving height or the potential of getting lost.
Dr. Mark Tremblay, (director of healthy active living and obesity research with the CHEO Research Institute in Ottawa) in an article with CBC says, “I prefer to just refer to things as play and let kids go out and explore their limits. That includes possibilities of getting lost, the possibilities of having what we call, ‘learning injuries’, seeing how fast you can go, how high you can go”. www.cbc.ca.
This sounds scary or like you’re courting disaster but he goes further to explain, “In fact, being indoors is actually more dangerous for children than being outdoors. Smartphones, computers and televisions, while entertaining and an easy way for parents to monitor their children, are doing more harm than good”.
Let’s get over that idea that ‘safe’ is inside and ‘risk’ is bad. It’s time to go outside and play.
Now I see that even our Regional Parks have provided a program called Park Play Days, where there is unstructured play time. Kids can run around free to explore whatever they wish and don’t have to join groups or play on a team. They can lay in the grass and look at the clouds, catch a grasshopper or discover a new view from the top of a tree. Connecting with nature is a great thing for everyone not just children. It’s time to smell the roses… no matter your age.
But it’s more than just connecting with nature. Unsupervised play time is important too. This time is for a child to learn to entertain themselves and use their imagination. Or, if more than one child, develop skills like learning how to share, play together as a group, show empathy and inclusiveness. They have to develop social skills, make mistakes, and apologize. All useful lessons that are better when learned young.
A study was done by University College London about unsupervised play time and they determined that it helps children become more social and active while developing important skills like regulating their emotions, creative thinking and analyzing patterns amongst other things. Katie McPherson goes on to say in her article ‘The Benefits of Unsupervised Play Will Make You Want to Back Off Your Kids’ Activities in A Big Way’ that we can’t deprive our children of free play as it’s the best way for a child to learn. It’s important to their development and later success in life. Katie has a great article you’ll love to read. Check it out on Romper.com.
There are many more parenting trends happening than I’ve covered here, I’ve mentioned only a few. What I love about these trends is that it’s new perspective on an old role. Why not look afresh at our roles as parents and take on a new attitude? I love that men are more involved with their children than they ever were before. I love that people are opting out of the nine-to-five job in favour of other unique options. I love that we have the internet now and you can search for solutions to your problems or use apps to make life easier. I’m not saying that the ways children were raised in the past were wrong. No. In fact, we need to get back to some of those ways such as unstructured and unsupervised play time. Or play involving some risk. Let’s swing that pendulum to the centre and create more balanced households. Maybe that means less things and more outdoor time. The world of parenting is full of challenges and we all want healthy and happy children who are ready to face the world. I hope this article has given you some help, some hope and maybe inspired you to try something new.
Amelia Ellsworth is a freelance writer who has grown up in the Okanagan. In fact she was born right here in Kelowna. Having spent most of her life in the valley she enjoys the usual recreational activities such as hiking, gardening, boating and visiting wineries. She has not yet had the privilege of being a mother, but would describe herself as a child, an adult, sister, aunt, god parent, community member and well rounded human who is part of the world community. Be the change you want to see.
The Purpose and Value of Labour Support
What is a Doula? The word ‘doula’ comes from the ancient Greek meaning ‘a woman who serves’ and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.
A birth Doula is a professional trained in childbirth, which provide physical and emotional support throughout the pregnancy, during labour and after birth. Doulas use techniques such as imagery, lite touch, acupressure, hot/cold therapy and patterned breathing to help reduce a woman’s pain during labour. Studies have shown that by hiring a Doula, a mother can reduce her need for pain medication and increase overall satisfaction with the birth experience. Having a trained labour coach can also reduce the risk of a cesarean and reduce the risk of assisted delivery by forceps or vacuum extraction. Studies have also shown a mother can have a reduction in postpartum depression when a Doula gives continual labour support and is present at birth.
The purpose of retaining labour support is primarily to serve the mother and guide her in her birthing decisions. Labour support begins, ideally, prenatally. A Doula can assist the mother/couple in creating a birth plan, helping to get answers to their questions, seek community resources and address any concerns or anxieties that they may have or women who have complex needs during childbirth. Most women need consistent, continuous reassurance, comfort, encouragement and respect. Although a Doula’s role can vary from birth to birth, her primary goal is to mother the mother by providing physical, informational, and emotional support. This can mean walking the halls with a client or standing as a pillar to slow dance with her during a contraction, cradling a scared mother in her arms with confidence and compassion. This can also mean gently preparing a father for a cesarean birth, or calming the new parents while their baby is being coaxed to breath. Doulas do not have medical training, and thus, do not provide any medical services.
The support given by a Doula is valuable in several aspects; supporting the needs of the mother by keeping her as calm and relaxed as possible, offering emotional and physical comfort, helping mom and baby experience their first breastfeeding and help make the birth as memorable as possible. When a woman’s abilities are affirmed, when she is made to feel strong and sage, and when she comes through her birth experience empowered, she starts off motherhood on a positive note. A positive birth experience contributes to a healthy parent-newborn bonding, making for a secure infant, a confident mother and a connected family.
Labour support is also of great value to the birth mother’s partner. The Doula is not there to replace the father/family or the healthcare team; she is there to enhance them. Many labour partners can feel overwhelmed by the whole birth experience and the responsibility to care for the mother: verbal encouragement, physical support, help advocate for the mother’s wishes, reading her emotional signs and just knowing what to suggest as labour progresses. A Doula is educated in all those areas.
The birth of a child can be the most significant experience in a woman’s life. A Doula, functioning within the scope of practice, can significantly improve a mother’s experience and improve maternal and fetal out comes.
For more information please visit www.greatbeginningsdoula.ca.
Shannon-Tara Ames, CD (DONA) Certified Birth Doula. Shannon-Tara was born in Penticton and raised in Kamloops. She has been married for over 27 years and is the proud mother of two wonderful adult boys. She has lived in Westbank for over 17 years and is very active in her community.