Equality and Overparenting
WSJ's 'The Juggle' covered a recent article in The New Yorker on overparenting this week. I clicked over to read the actual article because it sounded intriguing, and because I generally believe that there is pressure to become too involved in running our children's lives out of fear. It was an interesting and eye-opening review of several experts' opinions on the topic - all extremely anti-"death-grip parenting" as you might guess.
The expert theories on why parents are so much more involved, and in such a detrimental way, with their kids include the fact that former power career moms who now stay at home apply their managerial skills to parenting with a vengence. Hmmm...perhaps. I've seen some evidence of the latter, at least, in the occasional acquaintance.
But then I got to a little paragraph on page 4 of this long article. Here, the experts tackle the influence of feminism, and gender equality, on helicopter parenting trends. I'll quote here:
"Another discomforting matter in these books is the role of feminism in today's child-rearing follies. According to Gary Cross [author of Men to Boys: The Making of Modern Immaturity], one reason that young men are refusing to grow up is that the women's movement has eliminated the rewards for doing so. In return for putting on a suit every morning and going to work, men used to be the boss both in the office and at home. No more. So why grow up? Cross acknowledges that patriarchy and slackerhood are not the only available choices. As he notes, some people are saying that our society, by discarding sexism, can produce a new kind of man, one who is "nurturing and emotionally expressive," and who "abandons his old patriarchal privileges and embraces equality in private and public roles." Cross is not looking forward to such a development, however: "How many men (or women) can distinguish this approach from the stereotypical wimp?""
Huh? Please help me understand...so, overparenting is in part caused by men who refuse to grow up because they can't be macho men any longer, and therefore they settle for being wimps? Maybe global warming is caused by eating bananas because people like watching movies too. Yikes.
Here's my theory, in case you're wondering: Overparenting is probably a bad thing in general, and is caused by a host of cultural factors that have led parents, primarily women, to forget that they can't control everything and that they shouldn't anyway. And gender equal parenting, when both parents are equally, intimately involved in raising their kids, can act as a check against such overparenting by either parent.
I know this is true in my own home. If left to my own devices, I'd probably fall into trap after trap of cultural overparenting. I'd overprotect and smother and even push 'for their own good.' Marc is much more immune to the outside pressures to enroll M or T in kiddy classes or keep them away from any moving car ever. He prefers to teach them to have fun at home too, and to know the difference between a car 3 blocks away and one 3 feet away. Because of ESP, he's got equal say in how we raise them, and I have benefited from his wisdom more than once.
How do you think ESP might influence overparenting?