You Can Be The ‘Cool’ Parent And Still Be A Good Parent
Greetings, parents. I have yet another thing we are possibly doing wrong to damage our kids forever. It seems like everyday, we hear of yet another way we are The Worst. We just can’t win, right? So apparently, there is emerging evidence that it hurts our children if we try to be “the cool parent”. Dammit. All this time, I was holding up Regina George’s mom as the model I would mold myself after as a parent. My plans to decorate a cool “condom basket” to leave in the bathroom someday have been shattered to bits.
According to The Washington Post, many parents are now trying too hard in the name of garnering “likes” from their children, much in the way one would on social media. Yes, once again, we are being told that smartphones, tablets and Facebook are the source of our parenting woes. At first glance, I sort of buy it- us adults are constantly trying to be “relevant”, as the article notes. A crafty Tweet, a Facebook post detailing your perfect, family outing or demonstrating your pop culture knowledge are the new ways to “keep up with the Joneses” in this digital age but I don’t think this is necessarily causing us to parent much differently:
In an age when we’re expected to be always on—a 2014 study finds that Generation Y spends 18 hours a day plugged in, more than five of those hours devoted to such user generated content as social media, YouTube, blogs—the pressure to be relevant is overwhelming.
This means that our children, even some of us, are forever gauging what we should be thinking and posting based on what will reel in the most ‘Likes.’ The bottom line: In an age when we rarely have the time or resources to critically process whether we even cotton to what’s considered relevant, we unwittingly learn to define ourselves from without—by whatever is trending.
The author then notes that a generation ago, parents couldn’t give a flip about appearing “cool” to their children and how there was a clear line drawn between children and adults.
They had no interest in being their daughter’s BFF. They accepted their square grayness and modeled an emotional maturity that taught self possession.
Wait, what? So now, we cannot model emotional maturity while also trying to appear relevant and cool? God, I’m just really so tired of this. Do this, do that, don’t EVER do that other thing- it’s as though whatever we do, it’s wrong. I say that like all things, everything in moderation is the best approach. Don’t give your 8th grader and her buddies margaritas but other indulgences of a more innocent nature can still make you look “cool” without causing any trouble. For example, earlier in the article, the author describes a scene he witnessed at a fast-food restaurant where a mother readily agreed to buying her daughter and her tweenage friends pumpkin spice lattes with extra shots. He also notes how the mother chimed in with the girls in dissing a teachers’ appearance and saying she could stand to lose a few pounds. I guess these behaviors together made him think the mother was trying too hard to be cool.
This is where he is wholly wrong and the point where I wrote him off entirely. There is a difference between trying so hard to be cool that you end up acting like a jerk and being cool and fun while still modeling the right behaviors for your kids. In this case, that mom shouldn’t have talked about their teacher’s weight or wardrobe. But buying them all lattes is now verboten or somehow desperate? I don’t enjoy these generalizations. Maybe the girls had all just aced a big test and the mom was treating them or maybe, she just knew they would enjoy it and $3 is a small price to pay for them to feel adult and hip for a few minutes. In any event, I don’t think there is anything wrong with trying to be fun and modern as a parent as long as your values and morals are still solid.