“What I’ve seen in recent years alarms me,” writes British nanny Emma Jenner.
According to her bio, Jenner, of TLC’s Take Home Nanny reality TV fame, has “over a decade of in-home childcare experience” and a veritable treasure trove of insights into the way we parent our kids.
Parents these days are inundated with information about how best to raise their little ones so much so that they can get overwhelmed. But more so than that, they can still get it wrong. Emma shared her thoughts with the Huffington Post, and you’d better buckle up, because this expert believes that modern-day parenting is in serious crisis.
“Here are the greatest problems, as I see them,” Jenner begins.
1. Parents are scared of their kids
It’s not a great lesson for kids to let them have what they want as the result of a tantrum, Jenner explains. That’s why she invented “the sippy cup test.” The smart nanny observes her client (the parent) getting their child their morning drink. If the child demands a different cup than the one they’re given, Jenner’s on the lookout for a red flag reaction.
“I watch carefully to see how the parent reacts,” Jenner writes. If the parent obliges and puts themselves out to satisfy their grumbling child, then Jenner’s conclusion is simple: “What are you afraid of, mom? Who is in charge here?”
Let your kid have a tantrum, the nanny suggests. Just save yourself by walking away from the theater of conflict!
2. Parents let their kids get away with murder
“Kids will be kids” is a dangerous phrase. Jenner has observed countless parents shrugging off bad behavior both in private and in public, and it’s not okay.
“Children are capable of much more than parents typically expect from them,” Jenner assures us. Children can definitely sit through dinner; they can absolutely help with the dishes; they can certainly go to bed on time. The only reason they don’t is because parents don’t expect them to, Jenner explains.
What to do? “Raise the bar!”
3. Parents are going it alone
In the past, parents had what the professionals call “the village.” Teachers, bus drivers, neighbors, and all manner of other people from the local community were allowed and encouraged to act as “eyes” for parents when their kids were out and about. “Everyone worked towards the same shared interest: raising proper boys and girls,” Jenner explains.
We don’t have this anymore. Moms and dads these days are prone to getting irate if anybody else parents on their behalf. Judgment reigns supreme, and parents feel under pressure to project an image of perfection. It’s a vicious circle.
4. Parents are too tempted by shortcuts
Technology can be wonderful if harnessed correctly. Sure, phones and tablets can alleviate the boredom of airport queues and facilitate a little after-dinner downtime, “but shortcuts can be a slippery slope,” Jenner says.
Kids need to know how to entertain themselves. And it starts young; babies, Jenner thinks, must learn to self-soothe and toddlers need to learn to pick themselves up when they fall. There’s merit to the “slow way.”
5. Parents put their kids before themselves
We all know the old in-flight adage “put on your own air mask before helping others.” Well, the very same philosophy goes for parenting. It’s a “good thing for evolution,” Jenner says, that parents automatically put their kids before themselves, but modern parents have taken it too far.
There’s nothing wrong with delayed gratification, the nanny explains. “Wait,” and “no” are not dirty words. In the long-term, preserving the mental and physical well-being of America’s moms and dads is paramount if they are going to continue to be effective parents.
So, that’s the crisis, neatly summed up in five reasonable synopses. But what can we do about it? We certainly don’t want to raise a generation of “entitled, selfish, impatient, rude adults.” And as Jenner rightly points out, it wouldn’t be their fault; it would be ours.
The expert nanny’s conclusion is fourfold. Ask more, she says. Expect more. Share your struggles, and give less. Collectively, we can make the “modern crisis” a momentary blip on the radar and change parenting habits for the better!