Tuesday, April 29, 2014

How you're letting your best parenting asset atrophy

Here's my concern.  Social Media, in the young-ish parent circles where I live, is getting to be a sea of self-help suggestions for parents.  Usually with numbers and definitive language in the title.  Actual titles seen lately, "10 tools to help you stop yelling at your kids, 50 helpful potty training tips, 25 manners every kid should master by age 9, ____"

The thing is, none of this advice is inherently bad.  I'm just worried because I fear it may come to replace something better.  I am huge proponent of parental intuition.  I believe that nobody knows what a child needs better than an engaged parent.  And it makes me sad to think that I'm witnessing a trend of parents outsourcing the kinds of decisions and ideas that would be better off coming from the inside.  There's the obvious peril that the motivate for parental decisions and activities becomes wrapped up in social media compatibility rather than being wrapped up in the individual needs and personality of the unique child who will only be exactly like this today in all of forever.   But I also worry, that underneath that lurks a more subtle problem.  That on top of the distractions and noise of the digital age, parents are further handicapping their intuition by neglecting to exercise it.  And while it may not have dire consequences to turn to pinterest instead of meditation over potty-training, I expect that as the stakes get higher, and adolescence looms, parental intuition becomes irreplaceable. There is no blogger, guru, child-development expert, or organization who can know your child as well as you can, or who can advocate for your child as well as you can.  I worry that the age of endless pin-able advice largely results in more insecure parents who trust less and less in their ability to be the very best parent for their child.

So I rather wish that all of these nifty parenting lists started out with the disclaimer: "These are only ideas.  You are the best judge of what will actually work in your home and with your child.  Only take away from this long list, the things that feel like a good fit to you.  Chuck the rest."

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