At Education Week I learned a very interesting (and frightening) statistic. "The average child today is more stressed than was the most psychotic patient of the 1950's."
"What are we doing to our children?"
The kids' piano teacher just asked that question as I expressed concern about one of my own daughters who is struggling with worry and anxiety (and I thought homeschooling would alleviate all of that pressure!!). So now I pose that question to you.
I have a couple of theories myself.
1) Competition. We are a competitive generation, as mothers. We compete to see if our kids are in the best schools, the smartest kid, the best athlete, etc. Even the best of us constantly asks the question, "Am I doing enough to help my child achieve?" Sadly, we look sideways rather than up when asking this question.
2) Drive. With this competitive edge in our parenting, we then need to be sure our child is reading by the age of 3, taking music lessons at the age of 5 and playing sports as soon as they can say the word, "Ball." Why are we so driven to make our kids learn and run faster than is needful, even faster than their brains can literally take in!? As I get older I realize, "There is time." We need to relax and not be rushed to create the next Mozart (even though we all claim we're not trying to create a genius, deep down we are, right?).
3) Satan. Of course. We have been taught that Satan's power will increase in the Latter- Days. That is truth. I've felt for a long time that as parents we are more on the defensive than on the offensive, trying to combat everything our kids pick up in school or in the media. However, with this mentality I think as parents we've kind of overshot the goal. I think we've overcompensated and have started to take things to the other extreme (thus, more hanging out among our youth than dating...but that's another topic for another day).
At Education Week I was cautioned in one class to avoid the "Ostrich Approach." If we take away all of the stuff we see as bad from our homes, our children will not know how to exercise the art of self-control when they are away. This does not mean we allow anything filthy to come into our homes, for sure. We still need to set clear boundaries and teach correct principles while living in the world. Allowing them choices "within the bounds the Lord has set."
By overcompensating, becoming overzealous in our righteousness, we must be careful of teaching with fear rather than faith. We are teaching our children to be fearful rather than faithful. We are creating pressure rather than peace.
When the Brethren stand in conference to speak, I don't hear the doomsday speeches that the end of the world is near or that having video games in our home is going to lead us all down the wrong path. Rather, I hear messages of hope and happiness and peace. Warnings, yes, but not out of fear.
As mothers we must be full of faith as we raise our children. We must know that we are teaching correct principles and allow our children the opportunity to choose for themselves. We exercise faith by teaching, exhorting and then "cease speaking" (1 Ne. 8:39), recognizing that the Lord will lead and guide them as well as He does us.