Lately, I have been feeling like every time that I log on to my computer, there's some new article stating how yet another parenting method is absolutely going to ruin my children. Just one click of a button and I am bombarded with title after title telling me I am causing brain damage, making my kids antisocial, creating high levels of anxiety, giving them diabetes, raising them to be completely incapable adults… the list goes on and on. But all the hysteria isn’t serving any one. I realize media uses extreme tactics to capture our ever so short attention spans but this approach is starting to become more panic inducing than it is informative or helpful.
Just in every day conversations with other parents, I notice there is a level of paranoia that causes parents including myself to constantly question and re-question the parenting choices we make. It seems everything is beginning to become an either/or choice and there is no longer a gray area… Let your kid cry-it-out and your child will have permanent brain damage or hold them and they will never learn to self soothe. Either only feed your kid organic, local, gluten free everything or they will develop add, developmental delays and diabetes. Give “time-outs” and they will feel abandoned or give “time-ins” and they will become dependent on you to regulate their emotions. Sign them up for too many activities and they will suffer from anxiety or don't sign them up for anything and they will have little to no self-esteem. You must NEVER say no, you must give ONLY positive feedback and ABSOLUTELY NO yelling ever… Can this stop?!?! I don’t know about you but it gets to the point where it scares me out of my ability to make parenting decisions.
The truth is, every family is different, every parent is different and every kid is different. There is no one method that works for everyone, not even in the same family. What works for my daughter doesn’t work for my son, so surely what works for my family may not work for yours. So what is up with the absolute parenting advice? Why does it have to be so black and white? Where is the gray area? The thing that makes parenting so hard is that it is never just black and white. It’s almost always about trying to figure out how to navigate the gray area. As a parent, I make a myriad of decisions every single day and I am guaranteed to make the wrong decision at some point but that doesn’t mean I have permanently damaged my kids.
Don’t get me wrong; I am a big advocate for parents educating themselves. Read books and articles, take parenting classes and start parenting groups. I know I need as much help as I can get because like the saying goes, "when you know better, you do better." The truth is parenthood is anxiety inducing enough all on it’s own so extremist views, scare tactics and parent shaming are not helpful to anyone. Parenting advice should be just that and not an accusatory judge and jury that sentences me to a life of parenting failure.
At the end of the day, none of us are purposely trying to ruin our kids. I know I have my kid’s best interest at heart and I am sure you do too. I am human. I make mistakes, learn from them, grow from them and move on and I believe seeing me do that helps my kids learn and grow. So my advice to you and myself is go ahead and read those articles, take it in and do with it as you see fit. Know that you will drop the ball some times but trust that you are not permanently ruining your kids.