There Is No Such Thing As Good Parenting Advice
I don’t have good advice on parenting. I don’t believe there is such a thing. The good parenting advice I’ve read produces 3 reactions, all equally as disappointing.
“That is incredible advice! We are implementing it tonight. From here on out this is what we will do. This shall change our entire dynamic and raise well behaved scholarly offspring.”
Record scratch and cut to me crying in a corner at my failed attempt to implement a nightly “Family Goals Meeting”
It’s not that I didn’t try and hey it was fun while it lasted all of 10 minutes, but let’s be real with our expectations. Turning the dining room table into a new-agey board room was never going to be a plausible pastime; we are still working on limiting bathroom breaks to 3x per meal.
“This is ridiculous! Absolute garbage! Who would dare transcribe something so horrid or backward or unrealistic?”
Oh Doctor Sarah is at it again, qualifying and attempting to discredit and disprove any parenting theory she even mildly disagrees with. As a perfect parent I of course have never given my 5-year-old soda because I forgot to get him a drink of his own at the rest stop. I am not the type of mom who accidentally swears in preschool traffic in front of my child and I couldn’t even imagine bribing my well-behaved offspring with promises of toys or candy or tv time just so he’ll stop barking like a dog at my future in-laws.
I hate having this reaction, not because it says something about the original poster but because it uncovers something terrible about me. I am defensive and scared, when I see advice or input that does not fit into my conception of parenting. I am immediately affronted. “How dare they!” It is as though this stranger has written the words as a direct assault on my own parenting style. Why have they come to contradict me?
“Oh shit, was I supposed to be doing this? How long has this parenting staple been around? Did I mess up? He’s 5 now and it’s probably too late to fix him.”
Mommy shame is real and the 3-hour pre- bedtime googling frenzy will no doubt leave me with nightmares where a judge is asking what kind of parents could raise such a child and I am crying and trying to explain that attachment parenting wasn’t as trendy when he was born.
When confronted with failure I balk. I am not proud of this reaction but as a mother trying my best in this world full of rules and designated parenting styles, I am constantly feeling as though I’m judging all my moves in hindsight. “Did he eat enough vegetables? Have too much screen time? Did I let him cry too much or pick him up too often?”
Parenting is hard and every child is his or her own unique monster. We tame and lull the monsters the best way we know how. The last thing we need are books and groups devoted to monster managing when none of our own monsters were included in the research.
Reaction IV: The New One
“That’s interesting, intriguing and it’s something I’m not familiar with, maybe I’ll do some research and see if this fits my life/monster.”
I started stepping back and taking notes without accepting them as gospel. Good parenting advice is not real. Good parenting advice is a collective gathering of opinions sometimes based in research and science other times in experience and application. I don’t need to tell you how to parent, I’m winging it hard. I don’t apologize for the advice I’ve given but I do apologize if it ever caused any of the above reactions because the truth is there isnt good or bad parenting advice. In this life there is only applicable and not so applicable tips and tricks.
Moming is tough stuff. The critic in our mirror is far more severe than anything we will ever read on the internet. We try our best to show our highlights as proof we know something about what we’re doing. The best thing we can do for one another is to support and love each other through the sharing of experience and strife. Let’s applaud our efforts and laugh through the fails. Moms are our tribe whether they attach, bottle feed, or just wing it; we are living the good advice we need.