Proper Parenting

Is there really a proper way to parent your child: a perfect path on which, if you are able to maintain your course, your child or children will come out growing both physically, intellectually, and emotionally to the height of their potential?

No.

That’s right. No. No way.

In many respects, as parents, we are doomed to failure. The harder we try, the higher we are staging ourselves to fall. Really.

Does this mean that we should give up all-together, simply letting our kids raise themselves, feeding them only the basic necessities that will insure that we do not have them taken from us by Social Services?

Of course not.

OK. What?

The more that I’ve been reading, the more that I’ve been looking at how other parents go about parenting, the more I listen to radio talk shows, and TV pundits, the more I realize that there is no single, one size fits all, perfect methodology for parenting.

Of course most people reading this will nod in agreement. But why is it that during the 70s many people turned to Dr. Spock as the be all and end all of parenting advice? Why is it that today, when you Google the phrase “popular parenting experts” there are 13,300,000 results returned in .08 seconds? Curiously, however, when you reduce that phrase to “parenting experts” there are only – yes, only – 5,460,000 results.

During the late 70s the school of thought arose where parents were encouraged to tell little Johnny and Susie that their poop doesn’t stink because we don’t want to hurt their self-esteem. High self-esteem was the coin of the realm if you wanted to build a successful, well rounded child.

The recent book Nurture Shock shed some light on the success of that school; let’s just say that overtly building a child’s self esteem is counter-productive.  So, instead, do you go the path of the Tiger Mother? (A while ago I wrote about Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, the incendiary book written by Amy Chua, a Yale professor professing how she went all hard-core Chinese-style raising her children. She incensed everyone from kind-cuddly mothers to Chinese-Americans.) What are you supposed to do when, as of this posting, there are 63,604 options for books on parenting on Amazon.com?

There really isn’t a single answer, which gets back to Hillary Clinton’s famous, and oft maligned phrase: “It takes a village.”

Yeah. It does. Staying cloistered in your house, and only raising your kids on your gut’s feel is sure to backfire in one way or another. Follow one methodology from one “expert” only and that’s sure to backfire as well. Parenting is bouncing ideas off of family, and friends, and neighbors, and virtual friends, and reading ideas in books, and magazines. It’s living life actively and fully and passing that on to our kids. But, honestly, everything will most likely backfire, unless…

…unless, as the parents, we start massaging and managing our expectations for what success is, and see that our job is not to raise a child who is successful in our eyes, but our job is to teach our children to find success for themselves, in their eyes.


Side Note: I find parenting fascinating. Humans continually, and voluntarily, subject themselves to the process. Even very intelligent people, who are able to understand and forecast what kinds of difficulties lie before them, knowingly and voluntarily step into the world of parenting.

Most people seem to instinctively know that there is no one way to raise children, and yet so very many people seem to be seeking that one book, that one video, that one speaker who will show them the path to raising a successful child.  And this isn’t about raising the perfect child. Except for some odd corners of LA, NY, and a few other metropolitan areas, by the time your oldest reaches middle school the bloom is definitely off of the rose when it comes to any parent’s aspirations of raising the perfect kid. By that time, it’s about survival.

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