July 4th should have me thinking about independence and freedom. It should be a day to be grateful for the gift of being able to raise children in a country where girls are educated, free speech is embraced and equality is valued. Instead, I will probably be worrying about the danger of fireworks, the choking hazards of hot dogs and the sugar content of red and blue jello.
At what point did parenting become paranoid? I remember Fourth of July barbecues growing up. After making sure I had my stars and stripes sundress on and my pigtails were in place, my mom’s role was done. She didn’t check on our safety, chase after us with bites of food so we didn’t go hungry or leave early because we needed our sleep. She let us be kids, while she had adult fun with her adult friends. I know she enjoyed mothering more than me because she did not over think it. She never called it the “toughest job there is,” and she never made it look like work — because she and her generation of parents were chill. They supported each other more and judged each other less than we do today. They treated motherhood as the lovely life stage it is, rather than a career, and they seemed happier.
We know from the evidence, children were certainly happier. While we had our own problems, we were not the stressed, anxious, depressed and entitled generation we are raising. We made mistakes and we learned from them. We were bored and we invented a new game. We skinned our knee, rubbed some dirt on it and moved on. All of our over-parenting is creating people who do not know what to do with independence and who do not fully appreciate the joy and freedom of childhood. At what point do we stop looking for ways to fix our kids, and start looking at ways to correct our parenting? How about right now?
This July 4th, let us be grateful for all the sacrifices made by our forefathers, and honor their memory by passing on good old American freedom to our kids. Let them run in the street barefoot, count ice cream as a meal and play, without adult interference, until the streetlights come on. You may want to keep an eye out for fireworks though — I still have a scar on my leg from all that cavalier parenting.