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Columbia Missourian

FROM READERS: There are many choices for the modern parent

By Denise Lenk/MISSOURIAN READER
January 31, 2013 | 4:45 p.m. CST
Denise Lenk is a Columbia mom, and on the board of the group CoMO Moms Know Best. She is shown here with her two children.

Denise Lenk is a Columbia parent and is on the board of the CoMO Moms Know Best group

Choices. Today we have choices. In parenting roles, in who stays home, who goes to work. Or maybe we both go to work?

Movies have a way of documenting our evolving society, even in the category of parenthood. The '80s movies "Mr. Mom" and "Baby Boom" come to mind. The '80s was a bygone era of parenting, a time when Baby Boomers were in their prime, shaping our parental futures. Mr. Mom brings to life a husband and father who is catapulted into the world of stay-home parent after a layoff short circuits his career as a mechanical engineer. Michael Keaton scrambles around learning all the lessons of a warrior mom: trading coupons, routing children to school and grocery shopping with more than one child in tow.

These movies depict how the traditional script is flipped and Mom brings home the paycheck and Dad is quickly introduced to his counterpart’s world. Oh my! What does he discover? Jack quickly learns the feeling of a mom who is perfect one day and then, well, maybe not so perfect the next.

Diane Keaton’s character J.C. Wyatt learns how to bring home the bacon and mother her child at the same time, and doing it all on her own. Does this experience sound familiar to any of you moms out there? Doesn’t this happen to all of us when we become parents? A universal experience? The unexpected.

Should someone write a book entitled, "The Unexpected?" We envision this perfect life where all the beds are made and the kids are behaved and on their way to perform the lead part in the school play? Everyone knows their place and everything has its place? Maybe not. Parenthood! Who knew? We all struggle, men and women alike.

Lots of progress has been made in the present day parenting world. Traditional roles have been challenged. To go along with the progress and more open minded roles of men and women in their parenting journey, a very new set of sophisticated parenting methods has been discovered. We have groups on Facebook where we seek advice in our newest parenting struggle. Wow! We have a book at our fingertips for almost any subject matter we struggle with.

So what does this all mean? It means we are always striving to do more, pushing ourselves harder. Do we ever just get in the slow lane? Just sit still and clear our minds of all the Pinterest recipes, adorable crafts and new theories? If we don’t, we should.

Give yourself a break, stay at home mom, stay at home dad, working parents, alike! Parenthood is challenging and will always be evolving. It’s rough stuff. A balance of soft heart and protective instincts of a barbaric animal. What a balancing act! Baby boomer, Xer, Gen Y alike — we all have one thing in common — we learn as we go and we do the best we can.

The next movie I will be taking in is "Parental Guidance," and I am certain many laughs will be evoked in this new age of a little thing called parenthood.

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising Editor is Joy Mayer.