All the parenting advice you need in four words

Parenting is like a health fad. Eggs are bad for you; no, wait, now they are okay.  Don’t eat red meat!  Wait, here’s a diet entirely based upon protein.

What’s a person to do?

Yesterday, I wrote about an article that’s in the April issue of Parents magazine talking about the 10 Things You Should Never Say to Your Children, which included “Be Careful”, “Hurry Up” and “We Can’t Afford That”.

The thing that got me all riled was the use of the word NEVER. NEVER as in there is not one instance when it would be appropriate to utter those phrases.  I think that’s a bit of a stretch.

Clearly, it’s just an opinion.  And opinions are all over this here Internet. I mean, here’s me, spouting off my opinion of this piece.

I had several readers and commenters mention the obvious – that there is no perfect equation or method of parenting and honestly in a few years, some EXPERT out there is going to tell us that we should all be telling our children to “Be Careful!”

Obviously things change. The pendulum swings back and forth.

We use car seats now because it keeps our children safer. We can all agree that’s better.  But we also have schools that have banned hugging. Um, what?

When I was 4th or 5th grade, I was granted a big ol’ independent privilege.  I lived in Miami, FL at the time.  My across the street neighbor and I were allowed to walk to the Eckerd Drug Store just out of our neighborhood.  It was probably a 10-15 minute walk and across a two lane, heavily traveled street.  We didn’t care.  It was an awesome adventure that ended in us buying candy at the drug store.

Today I cannot imagine letting my child do that at that age.  Middle school?  Maybe, but any younger and I can feel the judgement from people already.  That’s what society has done to us. In elementary school, I went outside to play and didn’t come back for hours.  Nowadays, we panic if we don’t see our children for five minutes.

Kids need to learn independence. They need to know that Mom and Dad get mad at them and sometimes yell. And they need to know they are loved.

Whether we choose to spank, feed them fast food, use cloth or disposable diapers, let them use an iPad, drink juice, go to preschool, play sports, it’s okay because we’re the parent. So while an expert may advise for or against something, it’s still our call. It’s our family.

We know that each and every child is their own person.  They all have different needs, learning styles and personality. So what works for one doesn’t work for another. WE KNOW THIS.  Yet articles like the one I mentioned above still get to me, to us.  Because no one wants to be told they are doing it wrong.

So here’s what I’m going to tell you. You’re doing it right.  Unless you are physically harming or mentally abusing your child, you are doing it right. Let go of the doubt. There is no right answer. You know what to do.  We all just need a little reminder every now and then.

Parenting You're doing it right

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  1. says

    Oh you. I love this! I have been in parenting shut-down mode when it comes to writing because I am so tired of the dos and don’ts. We know what our children need. There is no one size fits all in parenting. There never has been and there never will be.

  2. says

    Great post, Erin. I’m so tired of parent’s becoming divided over little issues. A great reminder that though we all parent differently, it’s okay.

  3. says

    yup yup. Exactly. WE are the best parents we can be. And we learn as we go and we do as we do. I’m working hard on the parenting goals *I* choose to work on, not the ones preached to me through the media. Can’t we all hug and nod and say “been there” or, at least, “been somewhere near there”?

    As for independence, you’re right. Society has taught us to fear. So have ridiculous neighbors who think it’s okay to tell you you’re parenting wrong. (yes. that would be my neighbor.) I want my children to walk to Eckerd’s like we did (ha! such a thrill to walk to our’s, too.) I’m sure our moms were scared each time we did it, but we could do it! How awesome for us!?

    Finally… onto the word “never.” I read in a parenting book somewhere that never is a “pen word”, because it can’t be erased. We no longer allow “pen words” because they’re too solid and definitive. Only “pencil words.” We don’t say “I’ll never be good at riding my bike” or “I’ll never know how to read a chapter book” because never is forever. We can say “I don’t think I’m very good at riding my bike” because that can change. Perhaps it’s time people start using more pencil words in parenting. How is “10 things you should cut back on saying” or 10 things your should try not to say often.” Don’t pencils sound better? (Though, marketing-wise, I just killed the excitement.)


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