Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Don't stop it...just re-direct it

A few weeks ago, this article was blowing up Facebook like crazy, generating comments of all kinds.

A friend brought it up again at a get together earlier this week, spurring a conversation about over achieving parents.

I know the parent they are referring to.  You probably do to. Heck, maybe you are that parent!

Are you: the parent who volunteers not only to help but to organize every class party, the parent who swipes half the secret reader spots for the year in the first 5 minutes of parent orientation night, or the parent who has been a room mom every single year in every single of her children's classes?

Do people ask if you homeschool since you are constantly with your children?

If this is pointed out to the parent, responses are usually along the lines of

"well, I just really like to be involved"


"I have so much time, I just have to give back!"


"if I don't do it, who will?"  (I always want to say, "well, if you don't do it, we'll never know.)

As I reflected back on this article and the conversation, a few new thoughts came to my mind.

It's not bad, perse, what these over achieving moms are doing.  It's just too much.  Seriously, we don't need to celebrate Ninja Day or Mole Day or Harry Potter Day.

But even celebration of holidays (St. Patty's day) or milestone days (100th Day of School) aren't too much overall, it's just too much concentrated in one area (namely, the overachieving parent's child and classmates).

If all this "help" could be despersed out a little, would that be such a welcome benefit to others in the community.

For example, a mom who has attended every party so far for the year, really wants to attend her son's Easter party.  She has a great cookie receipe she'd love to make and a fun craft idea.

(So, she signs up, while the other parents are talking about her behind her back secretly thinking "ugh, seriously, she signed up again!?!)

Wouldn't it be great, though, if instead of signing up for her child's party, she gives the other parents a chance to sign up


then volunteers her baking talents at a local, undersprivleged school.  I don't know of a single elementary school teacher, especially one in a Title 1 (as we call them in GA) school that would turn her down if she asked to bring cookies by for a class.  Or offered to read to the class.  Or offered prizes for an empty goodie box (instead of stuffing things into her child's already overflowing classroom goodie box). 

(I promise you that, if you make cookies for someone other than your child and his/her classmates, your child will not suffer premanent damage.  Believe me.  Many, many times I have made things, with my children's help, and given them to others without even saving one for ourselves.  My children have lived through it.  They are even thriving.  Shocking,  I know.)

Volunteering is not limited to only your children's classrooms.  Or even your children's schools.  And the sad truth of the matter is that, for every school brimming with over-achieving parents, there are way more with parents who, for whatever reason, can't or aren't involved.

Our preschool is wonderful and we have so many parents who want to give their time and talents.  How much better would our community be, if some of these were dispersed a little.

I know our preschool and school wouldn't suffer from lack of help.

In fact, some children probaby want a break from their parents. 

And I think there's the potential for a lot of community benefit as well.


Chris said...

But, how do you REALLY feel about it? :)

The uber parent...remember the rant I posted a couple of weeks ago about the severe lack of real men in the world? I have a similar one brewing inside for the uber parent. It's ok to love your kids, but you don't have to LOOOOOOOOVE them. I'm a parent, but I'm also a son and a husband and a neighbor and a friend. We can't have our entire life and identity swalloed up in one role, and that's what I see these days. Let the kid be a kid -- that includes time away from his or her parents. When I was a kid, on summer mornings -- or Saturdays -- we left the house at sun up and came home for dinner. Parenting is hard enough without feeling like you have to keep up with the Joneses. And I think that is what's happening. Since we know everything about everyone (or at least we think we do -- thanks to things like Facebook) we are scared to death that we might not be as perfect as the other kid's mom down the street -- so we become over acheivers. And, truthfully, it's mostly the moms -- because the fathers are little better than children themselves any more (maybe that's what drives these mothers -- the fact that they have to be both mother and father?).

You have the ultimate volunteer mom, but it also gets worse -- you have the mom that volunteers for everything, AND sits on the PTA board, AND makes the cutest crafts EVER, AND runs marathons...blah blah blah. It's a recipe for an early grave.

Really -- care for your kids, love them, provide for them, and then give them -- and you -- some breathing room. You deserve it -- parenting is hard.

And holidays....don't get me started. Remember that line from The Incredibles: "If everyone is special, then no one is?"

Welcome to our world.

Wow, sorry Emily. I didn't mean to write you a masters thesis.

Chris said...

And I spelled swallowed wrong. I just can't let that go.... :)

Lauren Snellings said...

I don't wonder that your children are thriving! By modeling selflessness and compassion you are giving them a far greater gift than your presence at another school party!