Enough with the parenting advice

I’m tired of being told how to parent my kids.

I won’t even link to the “article” I just read. (Actually a slideshow…with 50 slides. Really, people? Numbered lists are too wordy now? No wonder I have a RSI in my mouse hand.) Because I don’t want to perpetuate this kind of crap.

It’s not the first such piece I’ve seen, and I know it won’t be the last. It’s all just clickbait, of course, but I’m so sick of these hysterical headlines. Everything I do and do not do will screw up my kids, and they’ll grow up to be awful people, and it will be all my fault.

Look, I’ll just be happy if they make it to adulthood, okay? A lot of kids don’t even live that long. That’s also in the headlines — look it up.

Will my kids end up in therapy because of my horrible parenting? Perhaps. Or maybe they’ll get by just bitching to their friends, like most people do. Show me one person who likes their parents all the time, or approves of every parenting decision they ever made. I certainly don’t know any. Yet here we all are, being responsible, decent humans.

I watch my daughter struggle with anxiety over her preschool homework assignments (just…let all that sink in a moment), and I see myself at her age. At every age. I’ve been at a loss to deal with her anxiety because here I am, sweating the small stuff right along with her.

It’s time for us to cut ourselves some slack.

I’m tired of trying to live up to Pedestal Mommy — that parent who does everything right, always. Who never yells, or says dumb stuff, or lets her kid eat nonorganic junk food. I’m trying very hard not to do those things, sure. Just as my daughter is trying to control her emotional outbursts. Just as her brother is trying not to smack people in the face with toys when he merely wants to hand them over. (Fine motor skills are hard to master, okay?)

Know what I’d like to see? Articles about owning your mistakes, and apologizing to your kids when you screw up. Because you will screw up. Some days repeatedly. I’d like to see more emphasis on encouraging openness and honesty in the parent-child relationship. Admitting that you, too, are human and make mistakes. Not because we’re bad people, but because we are people, full stop. Wouldn’t our relationships with our kids — our significant others — our own parents — be better if we could just do that? Admit when we screw up, apologize, and forgive others their mistakes? Hell, forgive ourselves?

I’ve had a lot more success speaking honestly with my children than I have by trying to attain my Perfect Parent badge. They respond better to me when they know I am giving them the truth — no matter how ugly that truth might be. They respect me for it. That’s not the party line these parenting tip articles sell, but I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

I’m not trying to raise perfect children. I’m trying to raise kind children. Happy children. And as I’m learning, the best way to get your kids to do something is to do it yourself.

So I’m not going to read those articles anymore. Like beauty magazines, they tend to do more harm than good. And there are certainly better ways to spend my free time.

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