The Calm of Parenting

Paul Written by Paul on

At work, projects roll at the right pace and progress is made. Customers, investors, or anyone else who writes the checks is pleased. Maybe it’s because it’s a Friday leading into a holiday weekend or maybe it’s just luck. Either way, you’ll take it.

You’ll go home happy and bounce around with your kids without a care in the world. You’ll be focused and interested in anything and everything they have to say — even if it’s every synonym to booger that they know. You’ll just sit and marvel at them and wonder how you got to be so lucky.

But then there are those other days. Those awful other days. The ones where you’ve exhausted your time-outs, the toy count isn’t exactly even, someone is coming down with their 4th ear infection, someone had a total meltdown in the grocery store, the laundry pile won’t shrink, and the milk is spoiled. Or worse, those days when they hurt themselves suddenly and without warning and you need to rush to the Emergency Room.

Those are the days when you need help. Those are the days when you need a break. Those are the days when you need to call in reinforcements. Not because the kids are trouble — but because everything else is and you just need help.

The trouble is, in those times when you need a break, sending the kids outside isn’t as easy as it used to be for many folks. In our culture today, if they go, you go. For whatever reason, we’ve all decided there’s too much risk in letting the kids out without direct supervision. And there’s good reason for that given the things we see on TV and in the news. And in those other times when you urgently need assistance, there isn’t an easy way to ask for help.

But it wasn’t always like that. When I was young, I could go for miles on my bike without question. I was asked where I was going and what I was doing but it was assumed that I’d be safe. And if I got hurt, help would be there.

Why? Because someone was watching out for me. But who? The community.My parents believed that the people in my neighborhood were all inherently good people. They viewed everyone in their community as peers. Maybe they didn’t love everyone but they trusted everyone to do the right thing.

Within the neighborhood, they had a micro-network that they trusted even more. Those were their go-to support network for stuff like baby sitters, house watching, yard work and emergencies. Those were the phone numbers that were memorized. The list was small but it was essential.

In a world filled with social networks, lists, and forums where people can go to be a part of a community, that essential support group isn’t present. All those networks are focused on numbers — getting every single person to sign up so they can sell data, ads and services. But in doing so, they create an anonymity that prevents people from establishing real closeness and support.

The only way to do that is to create an essential relationship manager for the household. Instead of a free public (and therefore impersonal) network that allows participants to be part of a large ad-supported conversation, we need tools to manage the core relationships and business needs of a household that isn’t motivated by ad revenue, but is instead motivated by providing solutions to help families manage their increasingly complex and business-like home lives.