We’ve all been guilty of taking (and implementing) horrible parenting advice from people who have never been in the same room with a child and not taking great advice when it slaps us in the baby journal.
We’re trying to navigate this life-long journey and gain some wisdom as we go.
I have tried to approach parenting with common sense (when my brain is awake), with patience (time permitting) and without bribing my kids (unless I have a lot of extra cash and cotton candy on hand).
But at some point, in our weakest moments, we open ourselves up to random advice from strangers and I find myself clicking on links, “10 Ways to Destroy Your Kids” (Is this a manual?) and “10 Ways to Raise Perfect Kids” after “10 Reasons You Should Never Use The Word ‘Perfect’ When It Comes To Raising Kids,” or “10 Meals Your Kids Will Love—Guaranteed!” (my kids threw away 9 and “accidentally” dropped the 10th in a puddle of dried play-doh).
Why so much conflicting advice, people? It’s almost too much to take.
Yesterday, I was reading an article by a noted child Psychologist with many, many more published books than I have (one). The article listed twenty quick and easy ways parents can screw up their kids and one of the colossal mistakes mentioned was “praising kids for everything they do.” The argument was we are raising “junkies for praise” who won’t do anything unless there is a pay-off.
Clicking my mouse a little to the right, on my child’s school newsletter, I read this; “Compliment him. Even if your child doesn’t get the ‘A’ he/she hoped for, praise him for trying, ‘I’m so proud of how hard you studied.’” (I especially like the use of an acceptable quote of praise. I added it to my spreadsheet while deleting one about saying someone’s skipping looked perfect.
I’m feeling less and less in control and more and more like I’m reading two manuals with conflicting sides and I always seem to pick the wrong one. To praise or not to praise?
Then there’s the “Follow your gut” which really means we’re all off the hook! “I followed my gut when I tossed my kid’s thermos out of my van window, officer. I was sick and tired of hearing him complain about the smell of Parmesan. Gutt-following, can’t get mad.” (From the manual)
How about this one we are all doing wrong, Trying To Make The Child Happy
“Their job is to learn to make themselves happy, and you can never force a child to be happy.” Amen! I will stop trying to make my kids happy then? So how does that look? Grumble often, serve them foods you know they’ll hate, burpees before bed. Gotcha.
The impetus for this piece actually came from this one; Thinking Smart Will Save Them: It can be tempting for parents to promote smart as the end-all-be-all. Yet this can lead to a child becoming arrogant, thinking everyone else is stupid or secretly believing that they have to put on an act and are a fraud. As a result, nobody likes them.
That does it. I’m going to parenting hell.
I rely on the “smart will save them” every single day. I’m hoping their smarts will save me! I thought that’s why we read to them, paid for all of those Baby Einstein videos, encouraged school attendance and told them one day someone would hire them? Frankly, I don’t care if nobody likes them. They’ll be the boss and can pay people to like them if you just let me keep riding this “smart is everything” train.
If we can’t encourage good study habits and lay it on as thick as molasses about being smart and we’re never allowed to tell girls they are pretty or boys they are strong or that someone’s art is perfect, what’s left?
I’m waiting for someone to come out with, “Dragging your third born to all of your other kids’ activities will make them well-rounded, possibly gifted, contributing members of society.” And “On those rare days when the kids come home from school and have an activity-free night, let them turn on the tv before taking off their coats and leave it on until they fall asleep on the couch.”
I’ve been waiting twelve years….