When it comes to overthinking before bed, parenting dilemmas occupy a lot of my mind space. At the carrefour of indecisions, cognitive dissonance, self-doubt and guilt lay predicaments that become obsessive. No matter how many pros and cons mental lists I make, I seem to keep going in circle on a few issues. Before it leads to actual rumination ?, I thought I’d share the top 5 parenting dilemmas that keep me up at night.
1. Is the United States the best country to raise my family?
Let us face the facts, the United States is not the most family-friendly environment. The healthcare system, the education system, the overall quality of food: all those components make me seriously question the relevancy of staying here. Add to this the disastrous political climate and you find yourself wondering if you have masochistic tendencies. As a father, am I making a sound decision to stay here? Am I favoring my personal ambition at the expense of the quality of life of my children?
The main reason for this dilemma is that my wife and I are fortunate to combine multiple nationalities which could allow us to move to a variety of countries with minimal immigration issues. We recently got back from France, my home country, and naturally, we question our lifestyle. Shall we trade the unique professional opportunities we have in New York for a country where access to healthcare and education are human rights, as opposed to privileges?
2. Should I go back to work full-time?
This second dilemma is related to the previous one. My wife recently quit her full-time job which means that we are currently both working independently. The reason why this has a significant impact is that her employment was providing healthcare for all four of us. Because the U.S. is one of the few developed countries that is not under a single payer system, we find ourselves in a situation where we have to “shop” for health insurance. As of yet, we have not found a satisfactory solution.
While we manage to make a decent living for the moment, I am wondering whether or not, as a father, the “safe” and responsible thing to do would be to get a full time job for a little while. One that would provide peace of mind and security while we are still building and growing our company. Of course that kind of decision would also mean to go back to the corporate world: less work-life balance, being away from home most of the days and a huge toll on my personal well-being. Should I embrace the uncertainty and trust the universe or should I play it safe? Probably my toughest of all parenting dilemmas.
3. Am I preparing my son to face the world?
When I started this blog a little over a year ago and came out as a male feminist, I faced an incredible amount of hate. While I am convinced that raising a compassionate, emotionally literate empathetic boy is the right thing to do, I am also wondering if that’s the best for his personal safety. Is the world truly ready for sensitive boys? Should I make a more conscious effort to “toughen him up”?
In my earliest parenting years, just like many fathers, I made a lot of mistakes. One of them was being way to strict with my son at a young age. I realize that my behavior was predicated on my on 1) my own experience as a boy when emotional expression around peers was considered a weakness and 2) my own fear of my son being bullied in the future. I believe in the idea that we manifest our reality. Therefore, on one side, I don’t want to raise my son with the belief that we live in a hostile environment. On the other side, I feel that I should sign him up for martial arts class to give him the ability to defend himself. Either way, I have yet to find the balance between passing along the values of resilience and sensibility.
4. Will I manage to parent both my son and my daughter fairly?
If you have been following this blog, you know how much of an impact the birth of my daughter had on me. It made me question my ideals around masculinity, explore my unconscious biases about women and challenge traditional gender roles. Yet, I am still wondering if I’ll be able to parent both my children the same way. Will I be able to give the same “freedom” to my son and my daughter? Will I handle the same way the time they both start dating or being sexually active? This seems to be one of the most classic parenting dilemmas, especially for dads.
I hope to be able to live up to the standards I am setting. The truth is, I know it will be challenging to practice what I preach. The savior complex exists in most heterosexual men’s mind as it comes to the opposite sex. This protective instinct is exponential when it comes to the relationship between a father and his daughter. As brilliantly put by Sophie Kohn in her piece If You Ever Hurt My Daughter, I Swear to God I’ll Let Her Navigate Her Own Emotional Growth, will I be able to resist “my ingrained urge to INFANTILIZE MY DAUGHTER and deny her a NORMAL AND HEALTHY EVOLUTION INTO MATURE ADULTHOOD?”
5. Should I share more of my spirituality with my children?
In the area spirituality, I have admittedly taken the back seat. Both of my children are baptized in the Catholic Church. I am not. As this was important for my wife and as I was raised with “Catholic values” I accepted it. Now that my son is seven years old he naturally wonders about god and spirituality. While I am against all forms of organized religion, I am deeply spiritual. I mediate, sometimes with my son, and I do share my beliefs with him.
Yet I am not consistent nor proactive in the transmission of my beliefs to my son. I am not even sure if I should be. My mother-in-law however, who is a “passionate Catholic”, is much more driven in the transmission of values and beliefs to my son. He likes it and goes to church with her on occasions. I feel torn about it. On one side, I feel that I should be the one leading on such a crucial department. On the other side, I am happy he shares something “deep” with her grandmother. I have a special bond with mine too and I don’t want to deprive him of it; even if we don’t share the same beliefs. I decided to trust the universe of this one and to let my son grows his own beliefs.
I am fully aware that these parenting dilemmas belong to the category of first world problems. I am infinitely grateful that we, as parents, have healthy children with so many options. Yet, despite our privileged situation, I struggle with many predicaments; but isn’t that the lifetime joy that comes with being a parent?
Please share your parenting dilemmas with me on Instagram at @ludogabriele!