While I believe parenting, whether done primarily by a mother or a father, is indeed the hardest and most important job anyone will ever undertake, I do not think that society as a whole gives parenting more than lip service. On Mother’s Day we give mothers that pat on the back, a card and maybe some flowers fulfilling that obligation. If indeed we consider parenting to be a tough job, and we know that children make up our future, why do we not give parents every opportunity to do the job well?
We certainly consider doctoring a critically important job, hence the years of training necessary to do it. The same can be said of many jobs. We need education to drive a car, fly a plane, be a teacher, work in a bank, etc. But giving birth and raising a child to adulthood requires none at all. We place so little value on the job of mothering that most think a stay-at-home mom “doesn’t do anything”. The support other countries give to their mothers makes us look like a third world country.
Every mother out there, whether satisfied or dissatisfied with her parenting, will tell you how important it is to know what to do and how to do it—and how little time she has to do it in. From understanding child development and individual temperaments, to setting appropriate expectations for a child, to being able to translate child behavior so a parent doesn’t fly off the handle every time a child screams, “No,” a parent’s-day-in-and-day-out responses to children can be critical to the future of our society.
I will argue that every abhorrent and dysfunctional behavior that costs our society megabucks as well as lives can be traced back to how that person was raised. We can argue that we have been raising children from the beginning of time and there’s nothing to learn. “I was raised that way, and I turned out just fine.” Oh yeah? Exactly the evidence needed to argue for parenting education. None of us know what our potential would be had we been raised differently. Not to mention how changed our present day culture is from the one we were raised in, our parents and grandparents were raised in.
We don’t even understand behavior. We react to it at face value. If we like it, we reward it, and if we don’t, we punish it. Rarely do we look beneath the surface to see the emotional needs that provoke the behavior so our reactions do not explode out of our mouths and catastrophize dire forecasts of our child’s future.
Many mothers do better jobs than others, and many children are easier to raise than others. The fit of a mother and child’s temperaments often make the critical difference between raising a healthy child whose needs have been satisfied and an unhealthy child who desires external stimulants (often at the cost of society) to fulfill those needs. Many of our addictions, dependencies, physical and mental health issues have direct roots in parenting. And all of us who are parenting have roots deeply embedded in our childhoods that can derail our best intentions in a nano-second.
Isn’t it about time we celebrated Mother’s Day with the gift of valuing the job done by supporting parents with parenting classes in all communities, with maternal and paternal paid leave so new lives do not start out struggling, with huge tax credits for parents who chooses to stay home to raise or home-school children, with more flex time in work environments—with a general shift in societal attitudes. Would we get stuck in the quagmire of invasion of personal rights or would this save the government billions and help us raise a healthier society?
There is a lot of parenting information out there, and for this Mother’s Day, I am offering a book giveaway that has parenting help I wholeheartedly endorse. Real Parenting for Real Kids, by Melissa Hood is a resource you can trust. See my blog below for how to enter for the giveaway.
You might also like: Equal Pay for Mother’s? No One Could Afford It.