The art of being a Deep River Parent is a life long pursuit of focusing on the essential elements that will shape the character of our children. Many parents around us are showing us, “No, it’s too hard, too much energy and time. I am too busy with unessential pursuits.”
A Shift in Parenting Has Happened In Our Culture
On Saturday February 27th, 2010 three letters were printed in the Deseret News, a Salt Lake City newspaper, in a feature column called “Annie’s Mailbox”. These highlight how challenging parenting has become. Common themes are feelings of helplessness and anger. Are we truly victims of our children? Or are there places where the enabling could have stopped?
“Dear Annie: My wife and I have been happy together for 25 years. When her adult son lost his job, we let him move in with us so he could get back on his feet. Three years later, he is no better off than the day he arrived. “Joe” will find a good job, work for a while and then quit. Sometimes he won’t get out of bed until the afternoon. He contributes absolutely nothing toward the bills.
I am angry that we are living paycheck to paycheck because of the extra money we spend to feed and house Joe. He is wasting his life. I’ve suggested he move in with his father, who lives in another state. My wife says, “If it bothers you, say something to him.”
Annie, I resent that she is putting this problem in my hands instead ofdealing with it herself. I know it bothers her, too. I want my home back without the extra baggage. What do I do? — Lost in My Own Home”
“Dear Annie: I have repeatedly told my daughter to remove her things from my home because we no longer have room for them, but it does no good. We plan on moving soon and cannot take along 10 boxes of our daughter’s books and clothes.
She lives out of the country and visits two or three times a year. Each time she visits, she buys more than she can possibly take back and leaves the rest here. It is prohibitively expensive to ship boxes of books to her. What do we do? — Out-of-Space Mom”
“Boy, did I see our family when I read the letter from “Frustrated Momin Michigan City,” whose 14-year-old son doesn’t turn in his homework or feed the dog, but spends hours on computer games. When our son was 14, the computer games seemed harmless. He is 21 now. He dropped out of college and has an entry-level job and no future. I wish we had cut the games off completely when his marks were low. — My Avatar is General Mom”
Think about it. Our parents would have had no problem telling us to move out, take care of our own stuff and to turn off the TV(computer). They would have scratched and shaken their heads at us, their children who are now parents, and what we allow our children to get away with. What is happening to the modern family? Because of our cultural shift towards affluence and the technological gains we enjoy, the perfect storm has been created.
Deep River Children are developed by taking a stand. We become Deep River Parents when we make time and focus on the critical stuff.
Do we have the will to do the extra hard work this takes? Or do we choose what a lot of parents are doing– whatever is easier at the moment. Short term ease over long term pain. Hand the screen over, eat fast food in the car, all of you running on empty– emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
We can see the long term pain in the letters above. Let’s take a deep breath. We can figure out what is most essential for our family and get off the busy, meaningless hamster wheel. We can!
Next post: President Gordon B. Hinckley tells us what to focus on.