Why I Hate “The 10 Things List” on Parenting

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(Photo courtesy: Author’s own)

Parenting is a joyous journey for all of us, no matter what our stories are. And having said that, parenting is also hard at times; not knowing if we are doing the right thing or not; and amidst all this confusion it doesn’t help to find news feeds like: “10 things you should never say to your child”… Imagine an anxious mom scrolling down her news feed after a meltdown with her kid and finds an article like that. What good is that going to do?

Every situation is different and so is every parent and child. I agree there are some hurtful things that shouldn’t be said to a child, but saying that it will scar your child for life and totally crush his self- esteem, is just wrong! On the contrary, these types of articles are the ones crushing the confidence of moms around the world. And what do you think the aforementioned mom would do immediately after coming across such a post; she’ll look up for more articles like “How to be a good parent” or “How to get your child to listen to you in 5 easy steps”, How to parent without yelling at your kids”etc…etc. It’s like an online shopping portal selling parenting advise to vulnerable, self-doubting parent community – “in just 5 easy installments” or “10 easy payments”.

I once attended an 8 hour session where the speaker was a renowned Spiritual personality. While she spoke at length about instilling values in children, she also gave a lot of examples where parents react to situations rather than respond. I just had one question in my mind after the long session, “What does a person know about parenting who has never been a parent?” “How can someone, who has never been put in a spot with a raging toddler or a teenager, know how difficult it would be to decide whether to react or respond?”

For that matter I would tell anyone who is not a parent himself/herself to back off from doling out advises to parents, simply because you just don’t know what you are talking about, unless you have been in the given situation. He or she may be a renowned psychiatrist , psychologist or a great philosopher or an accomplished rocket scientist or a monk, if he/she is not a parent, then I don’t think they know what they are talking about. Period.

It is very easy to sit in your comfort zone, in a calm, composed, peaceful and serene environment and comment on how to do things and how to react or respond whereas it’s a whole new ball game when you are smack-dab in the middle of a full blown tantrum, with so many eyes looking at you and judging you and all you want is for the ground to break open and swallow you.

As parents we all need inspiration, motivation and guidelines from time to time, and now with the information overload around us, there is no dearth of information regarding anything and everything.

Know that parenting doesn’t come with an instruction manual. There is no custom designed manual for every child, to know where exactly which button is located and what are the do’s and don’t’s. But it does come with one thing, a most crucial thing, the one and only thing the child needs; and that’s You….A mother, who gives all she has got to be the best parent that she can be. And that’s enough. More than enough.

Let’s give ourselves a chance…let’s take pride in our successes and failures in our parenting journey. Let’s understand that IT’S OKAY TO STUMBLE. It’s not the end of the world. If your child knows that you love him then, that one incident will not scar him for life. Let’s please have faith in our parenting ways. If you decide to reprimand your child for a particular reason, I am sure you are doing it to instill good behaviour or good value system in your child. There is absolutely no need to feel bad about it. It’s important to teach our children boundaries and right and wrong, if not us, who else will…definitely not the so called parenting experts? We are the ones facing the real situations and so we decide what’s best for our child at that moment.

Parenting is such a unique journey that one set of rules or a manual can’t help. Even parenting between your own kids can be completely different from one another. Even a mother of ten kids won’t become an expert in parenting because each one of her kid is different and so will be her style of parenting with each one.

Let’s not beat ourselves up with the so called books- “parenting 101” or “10 things successful parents do” or “10 things never to tell your child” or “how to be a good parent”, because as parents we inherently know these things already. Let’s read these books and articles to learn and be prepared but not to stress ourselves out so much so that we start doubting our parenting abilities.

You are the best person to know what, how, when and where about your child, no expert can tell you how to parent your kid. We can learn from each other, from each other’s parenting journey and be prepared to expect certain things but what you do in a given situation depends on so many factors that you shouldn’t be looking at an ideal response, because there is none.

How you respond (or god forbid…react) in a particular situation might be completely different from how you yourself will react in the same situation some other time. Depends upon the external environment (such as guests around, you are in a supermarket or a restaurant or at home without anyone around) and internal environment (you might be going through PMS, periods, migraine or may be feeling extremely cheerful ). We are humans after all. Please, let’s cut ourselves some slack here….

Your response will be definitely different to the same situations at different times.

I think what we do need is to do what we think is humanly possible in a given situation and if, you are not completely happy with the way you responded, then after a while, when you are calm to deal with the situation,sit down with your child and have a second innings at it. That’s something that is possible. Beating yourself up thinking you are not managing the way so and so, calm and composed person would, does not help our case.

Actually that kind of paranoid parenting, of whether we are doing the right thing every minute of every second, is what’s doing more harm. It sucks the joy out of parenting and an unhappy parent cannot raise a happy child? There are some posts like, “Are you doing these 10 things with your new born child?” “90% of the child’s brain development is over by the time your child is 4 years old? Did you do all this to ensure that?” It’s not whether these statements are true or not. I am not commenting on the authenticity of these statements. I am only saying, let’s not get sucked into this and lose perspective of the real. The real thing is to do what we think is right to our best of knowledge and enjoy our time with our kids. We all are anyway engaging and providing our children with a stimulating environment, so there is no need to be hyper about it.

We are humans in flesh and blood…and not to mention, with hormones and with loads of cleaning, cooking and laundry to do…So please for our own sanity, mothers, LET’S KEEP IT REAL.

Accept the real and enjoy the real…

PS: This post was on my list for so long, because I honestly feel it is so important for us mothers to keep it real and to support each other and to show our real, vulnerable side of parenting…because of late, I only see pretence and falsely projected images of perfect parenting, which is far from reality and blurs the image of real parenting.

 

2 thoughts on “Why I Hate “The 10 Things List” on Parenting

  1. Kalpana, first of all, I want to hug you!
    All that you have written, I completely agree with it, a 100%! SOme time back, I heard a discourse given by a spiritual speaker. he was talking about how to lead your life when the going gets tough, etc.And, the first thought that came to my mind was, has he gone through what I have? How does he know what it is to handle what I am dealing with? It is so easy giving gyaan sitting in the comforts of your throne, without having gone through what others have!

    All those articles about “How to be a good parent”, uff, I am not a parent, but, these articles just get on my nerves. Every parent is a good parent, dealing with his or her kids the way they deem fit, for they know their kids best. They know what they are doing and how to get things done. WHo is anybody to teach how it is “supposed” to be done? Do we come into this world with a “How to” book? It is our experiences, our battles and our mistakes, failures and successes that teach us how to handle our life. So, why not leave it to us alone?

    Ah, I think we ought to meet some day, Kalpana. We sure have a lot to talk about! 🙂
    Glad to have connected!

    1. Such beautiful words Shilpa… I know right…how can anyone judge without walking in someone else’s shoes? I am so touched by your words and I really think we should meet too…How lovely it would be…I am so glad we connected. Can’t believe we could make such meaningful connections in the virtual world too. Loads of love and a big bear hug to you! Thank you for your kind words…Really hoping we could meet someday…

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