What do I mean by the social trends parenting system? It is an entrenched social system that conditions us to basically obey unscientific and untested ideas about how to help our kids succeed--ideas based on assumptions that all kids should be a certain way and be tested to prove it. This emphasis on social trends and pressures often leads us to raise children in ways contradictory to their nature. That is a pivot point of the chronic stress our kids (and we) get into. Living within this system, our families move farther away from feeling safe, whole, protective, and successful on a daily basis.
To see if this system is operating in your life and the life of your child, please take a moment to ask yourself a few questions. I constantly revisit these in my own life and family.
Do I neglect my natural instincts as a parent, believing that everyone else--experts writing in books and magazines, family, friends, or neighbors--knows more than I do?
Am I looking for answers to my parenting questions from ever-changing theories about how a mother, father, grand- parent, teacher, or child should treat my children--rather than seeing both the question and the answer within my own child?
Do I tend to apply negative, deficit-based approaches to my children's development? For instance, do I find myself saying or thinking things like "You won't make it in the world unless you get up to speed right now!"
Do I try to compensate for not having enough time with my children by constantly trying to keep them stimulated and appeased with material goods, competitive activities, and technological "friends"?
Do I focus on the latest fad in "emotion talk" and "feelings talk"--often neglecting the equal importance of universal moral and ethical values in family life?
Do I put a lot of pressure on teachers, coaches, schools, physicians, other professionals, and children to produce only the highest levels of competition and perfect success, when realistic expectations of excellence--tailored to my child--would be more of a blessing to his or her development?
Am I isolated and alienated, feeling immense pressure to solve all parenting problems on my own?
I confess to having experienced each of these with my own daughters at one time or another. We're all part of this vast social system, and we're all beholden to a social trends–oriented parenting and family system. We all look outward, listen to trends, hope to hear "the perfect plan" for child raising. We all want to get ahead, have children who get to the top, and experience for ourselves the social perfection "everyone is talking about." We are loaded up with constant information about children, and that information can come to run our lives.
Social trends parenting is a systemic response, I think, to the complexities of ever-changing family systems largely rooted in the in¬creased mobility and major social changes instigated by the Industrial Revolution--which is one of the reasons I am calling for a "revolution" now, to take our children back. The Industrial Revolution created a cookie-cutter kind of existence, at least in many aspects of life. Our whole society tried to meet the new demands of factories. Our families became economically tuned, highly mobile, out of touch with natural roots. As a society, we grew a system of caring for children that focused on the so-called social and technological perfection of the human child.