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Why parenting in the U.S. sucks!

April 7th, 2014

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All across the world, when it comes to what parents want for their kids, there is not much difference, we want them to be happy, healthy and have good values. However, the culture where we raise them as well as the lifestyle differences strongly influence our parenting styles and the way we engage with our kids.

tired

As a mother raising my children in the U.S., I feel constantly overwhelmed, tired, depleted, resentful, and on top of it all, I feel guilty for not "enjoying" motherhood and making the best of the time I spend with my beautiful children that I love more than anything. I keep feeling that parenting is the most difficult job I have ever had, and when I share these thoughts with my American middle class moms, we all share the same feeling.

However, when I go back to my hometown in Ecuador, and spend time with my long-time friends, who are also middle class moms, none of them seems so overwhelmed with motherhood, they are a lot more relaxed and seem to enjoy being moms and have many other things going on in their lives, aside from motherhood and jobs.

The truth is.... being a mom in the U.S., sucks!

Although I always try to see the silver lining of things, I also like to be honest, and this is something I feel very strongly about, and I know most of my friends living and parenting in the US share this feeling, but very few would admit to it, as we fear being judged and blamed as ungrateful or incapable mothers.

But the truth is, the American society does not make parenthood easy nor enjoyable, for a number of reasons, such as:

  1. The U.S. does not have the type of work policies to properly support families and child care, like other developed nations do.

  2. Extended families have disintegrated over the generations and now most parents are alone raising their children, most of them have no backup and need to rely on costly babysitting or childcare.

  3. Overprotecting our children and being perfect parents has become an obsession in this country, as a result, parents have very unrealistic expectations about how they should raise their children, and an incredible amount of stress.

  4. The sense of cultural individualism and freedom makes it hard for people to rely on one another because we are supposed to "do it alone." There is a sense of self sufficiency that goes beyond what is humanly possible and reasonable, and that along with the "respect for others' space", makes it hard for parents to ask for help.

"In india, the entire community - from relatives and friends - is heavily involved in a kid's upbringing. the idea that parents are the only caretakers for a child is unheard of. " - A global Guide to bringing up baby by Jeannette Moninger (Parents Magazine June 2010.)

"With her first two children, Atlanta native MaryClaire King relished her lengthy hospital stays and four months' paid maternity leaves. With the third, she opted for a three-year leave from her marketing position at IBM France - with the guarantee of the same job and salary upon return." - European nations offer incentives to have kids by Elizabeth Bryan

It seems like moms in America are stuck in between, they lack the policy support other developed nations have and the community support developing countries have, as a result, our parenting suffers and our children suffer.

Luckily more and more mothers are voicing their needs and their frustrations, and in the past few years there have been best seller books written about this topic, which shows how widespread this feeling is. If you want to read more, here below are some recommended reads:

Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink The author believes working moms are hanging on by a thread. Women have experienced huge work gains in the last few decades, but institutions have failed to keep up, leaving moms with more to do than they can possibly ever make time for.

Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time is about the pressures on working mothers and fathers that lead to a constantly racing heart, consuming guilt and the certainty that they've become inadequate at home and at work.

Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety In this polemic book about contemporary motherhood, Warner argues that the gains of feminism are no match for the frenzied perfectionism of American parenting. In the absence of any meaningful health, child-care, or educational provisions, martyrdom appears to be the only feasible model for successful maternity—with destructive consequences for both mothers and children.

Hopefully all this will bring more public awareness on this issue, which is really important. Children are the future of a society, and mothers are the holding pillars of a family, so it is important to look more closely at the well being of moms, because that determines how healthy our society is, from a human point of view.

Have a Good Week!

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