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Parenting Trends: Who Are They Good For?

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OK, so call me hypersensitive. It's not something I've never heard before. In fact, it actually may be something I've finally owned up to, something I will no longer take strides to defend, since it is, in essence, who I am. I think I've finally come to embrace that.

I think as a parent, I’ve put that trait to good use while resisting the latest parenting trend when caring for my kids. I’ve seen, too, many parents who come from a place of logic and practicality; my own parent, actually. Each year, we send our daughter to sleepaway camp. It’s something we vehemently believe is good for her psychological and emotional growth. My mother sees it as being out of the range of affordability and feels the camp experience is an indulgence we buy into without giving any thought to the financial repercussions. (I do admit it is a little expensive.) However, if the camp is willing to offer a payment plan, one that does not strap us or put us in a position of struggle, I am of the mind that we absolutely should take it on. Yes, it may take a few months longer to pay down the balance, which will create certain sacrifices in the meantime (so we won’t be able to go out to dinner as much, for one), but we think it's worth it.

It's worth the peace of mind knowing that our 14-year-old is unplugged for two and a half months, spending her days running around in the sun (wearing sunscreen, I hope), hanging out with her best girlfriends day and night, creating memories and friendships that will last a lifetime, and being supervised 24-7. Also, the fact that these friendships she has created in the past years and continues to cultivate each following year will last longer than any friendship I ever had when I was that age (going by the many, many conversations I've had with people who are my age now and who have gone to sleepaway camp when they were her age). I know where my child is at all times and that she won’t be getting into a whole lot of trouble. It's a clean, wholesome environment. But it also affords me the ability to sleep at night. That alone is worth millions of dollars more.

It seems like the parenting trends that have been popping up and written about probably did work, at least for the kids they were created for. But we really won't know for sure until these children mature into grown-ups and tell us their inspiration to create a cure for cancer was inspired by their mom, who decided to withhold snacks and pizza, and sometimes even dinner, because they were fat and their mother told the world about it in a national magazine. These "experts"—and I by no means am declaring myself to be one here, either—are not necessarily encouraging us to be creative with our own kids, or to do what's best for the personalities we bore. When we read someone else's post, or interview, or book about what they're doing for their kids, it should not negate what we are doing for our own. Sometimes we're too quick to think maybe their way is better before factoring in the real possibility that there are pieces of puzzles that most definitely won't be the same as our own. A select few should not be dictating for the masses—even if it is a best-seller and the author was on Oprah.

We need to come from a place of confidence, a place of knowing that the way we’re raising our children is in complete agreement with who we are as the ones in charge. They need to learn from a young, impressionable age that they should always be true to their feelings, their perspective, and who they are as individuals. I would never insist on one child going to a camp just like the other does, because the level of interest is just not the same. In the same way I wouldn't insist on one not going, because it would mean I won’t be able to sample the farm-to-table menu and sustainable wines at the new organic restaurant in town.

There are choices we make every day. Some are big, some are small. And some days, we make better ones than others. But at the end of each day, if you’ve made at least one from the depths of your heart and soul, then you’re on the right path.

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