The Babycenter article I blogged about the other day about cultivating a sense of humor in your kids has got me thinking about adding levity into our lives.
I suspect that, like many other parents, my wife and I take the responsibility of raising our kids a little too seriously. We are both worriers, so much so that I think we occasionally lose the plot and don’t trust our instincts as much as we should.
Certainly, having small children is taxing, hard work, and some days it’s pretty easy to get overwhelmed with the responsibility of shaping a life. I constantly worry that I might do or say the wrong thing and somehow damage my kids. I’ve always thought that taking care of a kids physical needs: feeding, changing diapers, cuddling, all that kind of stuff, is way easier and less intimidating than cultivating and nurturing an emotionally healthy kid. It’s pretty cut and dry. Kid hungry = feed kid. Dirty diaper = change it. No problem.
I need to lighten up, and apparently I am not the only one. Mary Morgan, the wife of noted Child Development expert and author Dr. Benjamin Spock (Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care: 8th Edition), has recently spoken out that parents today take parenting far too seriously. Says Morgan:
What weâ€™ve done with experts in parenting is to tell people that they donâ€™t know anything, and they have to rely on somebody thatâ€™s done this and done that. We undermine some of the greatest wisdom weâ€™ve had handed to us: what we know intuitively. Iâ€™m not saying that the experts are wrong. I just think that this attitude has weakened the self-confidence of parents.
On one hand, there is a certain irony that Morgan speaks of there being an avalanche of information for parents when she and her husband are partly responsible for that avalanche. Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care was one of the first mass media publications to address parenting. Yet, I can’t help but think she is right. Sometimes, there is so much information available to us that it is easy to “shut down” and feel more than slightly apprehensive about how we raise our kids. It seems that for each parental piece of advice there is an equal and opposite parental theory that is just as compelling.
Damn you, information age and your promise of infinite knowledge! Give me the good old days when I could live in ignorance about the long term health implications of too much television and let my kids sit for hours at a time in front of violent Bugs Bunny cartoons while stuffing their face with enriched Cocoa Puffs!
I guess the point of this rant is that I need to lighten up and realize I know more than I think I do. I need to stop worrying about always doing the right thing and accept that I will make mistakes. No one is, or can be, perfect. And those who strive for it are doomed to fail. I need to trust my instincts and realize that my kids will be fine in the end. As Dr. Spock himself says, “Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.”