Parenting buzz-words are heard on the playground, read on the front pages of newspapers and discussed over lattes and text messages. You’d best be aware of the latest trend or your child is in danger of winding up on a therapist’s couch at 28 years old unable to zip up her own coat, completely incapable of having a meaningful relationship and an absolute super-star at everything from singing acapella to sewing Christmas stockings and roasting a leg of lamb.
Keeping up with the latest parenting methodology is a little like keeping up with those Joneses. The pendulum is in constant motion, swinging liberally from latchkey to helicopter. We praise too much, we encourage too little. We hold the reins too tight; we let them grow up too fast. There is always something that we are doing wrong and there is always someone quick to point out the error of our ways.
We’re suckers for it.
Sadly parenting, like everything else from yoga to book clubs, has been expertly packaged, merchandized and publicized. Smiling experts with more letters after their names than we can decipher, look down at us from their glossy book covers and claim to have all of the answers.
And for the most part guilt-ridden parents eat it up because no one wants to fuck-up raising their kids. No one.
And marketers know this.
In my paltry six years of parenting, I have learned a lot, mostly that I won’t know all of the answers but I am not helpless.
In those early years, before making any decision, I would consult “the books”, and scan the Internet. Terrified of making the wrong decision and being on the receiving end of furtive glances from the other moms in the playgroup, I would appease my anxiety with research.
And the beauty of the bookshelves brimming over with those parenting experts? If you’re thorough enough you can always find someone to agree with you.
Danusia Lapinski, a Montreal-based parenting coach, suggests that when it comes to parenting ideology parents “have to decide if it’s right for you. If it resonates with your values and needs. Everyone’s different and you have to question the ideas you hear.” (globe and mail)
There are a handful of parenting experts whom I turn to when I am seeking guidance or a helpful suggestion and these experts do echo the values and beliefs that my husband and I hold as our gold standard.
Whenever I am in doubt, I think about my sons as grown men. I think about the character traits that I believe make up good men: persistence, work ethic, curiosity, compassion, passion, self-control and kindness and I ask myself, am I helping or hurting their chances of growing up to be the best men that they have the potential to become?