No one likes to be told what to do. (Just ask a toddler if you don’t believe me.) But that hasn’t stopped anyone and everyone from proclaiming that you are not raising your children in the correct manner. There are books which chastise you for not being more French or feline. Newsstands are chock full of glossy instructional manuals. There was a time when parenting articles were bundled with home economics and fashion articles in ladies’ magazines. That will no longer do. The magazine industry (in all its floundering glory) has produced copious parenting titles. One needn’t purchase a magazine or book however; simply turn on the computer and enter the blogosphere/chat rooms/message boards that long to be heard.
Of course many of these sites are less interested in telling you what to do and much more concerned with daily affirmation. Are you having some doubt about sleeping in the same bed as your baby? Fear not, there are thousands of people out there poised to support your decision. Does using a pacifier make you feel less than? Give it 10 seconds, and someone will vote you virtual mother of the year.
Let’s face it, there’s a lot of noise out there. There are as many people lining up to cut you down, as there are to boost you up. Parenting is a lonely job. There is no boss to hand out an “atta girl” there are no annual reviews or even colleagues. There are hundreds of tiny (and not so tiny) decisions you must make at all times. A little person, even a verbal little person, cannot offer much feedback as to how you’re doing. It takes a village just to quell the loneliness. So naturally, we’re disposed to hearing the chatter (by the end of the day the chatter of adults sounds like a freaking symphony to our ears!) But if there’s any danger in our weakened state, it is that we often only hear what we want to hear. If we are sleep deprived (and shower deprived) and are still being woken up every 3-4 hours by a three month old, we want to hear that we are and will be okay. We probably do not want to hear that we have to let the baby learn to self-comfort. We can’t bear the idea of listening to the baby cry itself back to sleep once let alone every night for a week. Just tell us that we’ll live through this. Well, you will, of course you will, but parenting isn’t really about our survival it’s about helping children grown into healthy, happy, strong adults. However it’s easy to lose sight of that when you haven’t slept for three months.
Put a post-it-note on your computer for when you find yourself shopping online for a perfect parenting book or trolling chat rooms at 2:00 AM. Have the note simply state: “I know what I’m doing” then in tiny script just below “see print-out.” See print-out?
How To Build A Happy, Healthy, Strong Person
- Adults are in charge – Flight attendants instruct adults to place the oxygen mask on their own face first for a reason
- A fulfilling life of your own, outside of your parenting responsibilities is key to allowing your child to grow and to modeling the appeal of growing
- Adult activities (working, fitness, classes, socializing, dining, bar hopping) should not include children
- Do only what is necessary for your child
- A preschooler can pick up his/her own toys. Once children reach school age he/she can make their own breakfast and get dressed. A middle-schooler can do his/her own laundry and cook one night a week. And so on
- Competence is the primary ingredient in self-esteem
- Redefine “every advantage”
- Don’t give your child what you didn’t have, give them what they need
- Money & stuff is never helpful, life skills and a moral compass are