Sunday, April 22, 2012

What I've seen

I read an article in The New York Times this morning that made me a little sad - it talked about how the friendships between young adults can become strained when the young adults become parents.  The article mentioned all sorts of theories of parenting as the battle lines along which friendships are fought, but never mentioned the parents of the young adults at all.  The article seemed to assume that if the young adults had learned anything at all from the previous generation, it was what not to do.

I think that's sad but I think I understand why that's so.  I don't the previous generation is that awful...given that I number myself among them.  If you can get a kid from zero to 18 alive, given today's conditions, I think you can consider yourself a Gold Star parent.

I think most young parents are clueless because most young parents don't remember their parents parenting a young baby.  Now that the prevailing fashion is to wait to have children, everyone has their kids in clumps.  I considered myself extremely fortunate that I had siblings 11 and 16 years younger than myself when I had my first baby.  I'd had such direct hands-on experience of taking care of  infants, mine wasn't that mysterious to me.  Sure, I consulted the "authorities" of the day and my pediatrician if the situation seemed to warrant it, but mostly I relied on my mother and my own intuition to read what the baby was trying to tell me, because of all the diapering and feeding and care-giving I'd done.

I thought it was such a useful model of parenting that I replicated it, to the extent that I could, with my own children:  spaced across thirteen years, my older children helped care for their younger siblings, and now that my oldest has kids, it's the youngest's turn to help out.  I know this model is most likely not feasible for most people, but I wonder if there were some way to perhaps at least give this idea some thought  when it's time to consider spacing.  As I said to my daughter, when she asked me what I thought about when she "should" have a second child, "The older one should be old enough to help."

1 comment:

Kim said...

My brother and I were only 20 months apart so I didn't see it directly from my parents but... back in the day neighbors gathered together - you were raised in part by a village and you were hands on in the group and both my brother and I babysat a lot in the neighborhood. Oh, and parents were parents not your best buddy but that is another entry.