When I was in college, I remember hearing the term, “Soccer Mom” and chuckling that I'd never have a “mini-van” because I never wanted to be “that kind of mom,” if and when I had kids.
Then just before my oldest son was born, about 10 years ago, I heard the term “Helicopter” parent, which at first glance might mean something good, like these are moms who take their kids on helicopters, which made me think, "How adventurous those Moms must be," and I chuckled again, until I learned it meant that these parents “hover” around their children and don't let them do anything. Again, I vowed, “I'll never be that kind of mother.”
Then came my oldest son, who just turned 7. When he was a toddler and played outside with the neighbors' kids, I wanted to make sure not to “hover” so when he fell in the grass or even occassionally on the blacktop or the dirt, I didn't rush to his aide in the hopes that he would learn how not only that falls happen, but also that he could get himself back up and be independent. Of course, my first reaction was to keep him in a bubble and not take him out of the house, but I learned slowly that by him falling, he was learning to be resilient and that it hurt for a couple of minutes (which I hugged and kissed him while it hurt), but they he should go back to playing.
And now in 2011, the label “Tiger” parent has been tossed around in the media thanks to the book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger,” which implies, though I haven't read it yet, that mothers in the Asian culture are “tiger” moms being more firm with their children at young ages, thus propelling them to greatness, while we American mothers have become mushy and always tell our kids that they are “great” even when compared to other cultures, are not as successful.
I'm paraphrasing and generalizing here, which I hate to do, but I'm pretty frustrated by all these judgemental terms.
Here's what I want to know – how many men have been labeled in the last 2,000 years in groups of how they are raising their kids? When they go off to war, are they considered “Work Far Away Dads?” No, we in society, which I strongly agree with, call them heroes when they fight a war in other lands. They sacrifice a lot.
But moms who go to work full time are “working moms,” which are usually pitted against SAHM (for those of you who don't blog, those are “stay at home moms”) because how could they go to work and stick their kids in daycare and not love their children?
I challenge that mentality. I have been a working mom since both of my children were born, but I've worked from home. I quit my full-time job as a reporter and became a freelance writing working as often as my schedule allowed and helped with the household budget as our needs changed with our growing family.
But I think what bothers me about all these labels we put on each other, makes me feel like we are different species in the animal kingdom, when I think we are all individuals raising our children the best way we know how.
Do all moms who work have the same belief system or parenting strategy? I'm guessing not.
Do all stay at home moms have the same mentality when it comes to raising children? I'm assuming not.
Do all homeschooling moms have the same mentality when it comes to public schools? I think not.
All mothers (and fathers to) are trying to do the best they can for their children. Whether they work, stay at home, hover or are a tiger, we're all trying to raise the best children we can.
And these labels don't help bring parents together to support each other. Instead I feel that it makes us divisive.
I don't parent the way I want to parent (all the time). I parent my children in the way they need to be parented to achieve my overall goals, which is to make them happy and healthy members of society.
And if I'm in a situation where I think there is danger, I hover. When I feel like they need to be challenged, the Tiger mom comes out. And when the occassional fight breaks out either between my boys or my children and other children, I discipline them appropriately and with what works in the situation, which is different for each child.
I'm not a perfect parent by any stretch of the imagination, but I try to bring other mothers together rather than tearing them apart with these frustrating labels that no one can live up on every given day.