If you think parenting is hard, you are right. No matter how you slice and dice it or how easy you think you have it, it is hard. Why? Because of the way we live here in the United States of America; it is just not easy.
Today’s nuclear families are small. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, usually few in number, often live far away and/or are involved in too many other things of their own to be able to help. Most are so busy that they themselves need help.
From the article by Jennifer Conlin called Guests: Meet My Relatives (They Live Here, Too) published in the New York Times on August 17, 2014, we learn about a family that just moved back from overseas (first Europe and then the Middle East). To solve their own practical situation at the time they moved in with their parents making the household multi-generational with grandparents, parents, an uncle and children.
About living in the Middle East they said…
“Our eight-story apartment building in Cairo was occupied by one large extended Egyptian family… save for us, the ‘odd’ American family living on the fifth floor. We watched our neighbors run up and down the stairs babysitting the youngest, delving meals to the eldest and giving birthday and wedding parties for one another in the shared back garden.”
About living in Europe they said…
“In Paris and Belgium, where we lived when our children were babies, I wondered at first why all the young mothers had older nannies. I soon learned they were the grandmothers, who either lived nearby or with them, lending a hand while their daughters were at work, which would have worked for me as I dashed between deadlines to day care.”
While many of these families were poor compared to our economic standard, all were rich in terms of family.
About living back home they said…
“There was always someone around to make dinner, collect a child, watch the dog and lend a buck, be it for the mortgage or medications. Together we can live much better, financially and emotionally, than we could apart—and that includes my older single brother who is like another parent to our children, particularly when we travel for work.”
What an interesting and valuable article! While most of us cannot have this kind of extended family experience, and while many others who can would choose not to have it, the point is well made. Our lifestyle has changed the job of parenting from a joint effort to a singular challenge. For generations past, and still in many places, family life was and still is set up to be a supportive experience.
What have we done!!!!
Please be reassured that when you are living in your two, three, or four member family, you are doing jobs that are best handled in a multi-generational setting. If you feel stressed from time to time or even often, please forgive yourself. There are very good reasons for it. In reality you are doing one heck of a very good job… and you are doing it under very difficult circumstances!
Take it from someone who understands. Probably an on-looker might say, “It is no accident that I do the kind of job I do.” As you know, as always, I am happy to help. Please feel free to send in a question anytime to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope you had a wonderful summer and that you are all set for an exciting, productive, and an as “easy-as-possible” upcoming school year.
~ Dr. Sally
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