Thursday, December 27, 2012

"Good" parenting v. "bad" parenting

I don't consider myself a good parent; really, I don't.  My children swing from wildly unruly to angelically sweet, usually in a twenty minute period. They drive me crazy, and the constant pressure of dealing with their needs, their educations, their behavior, and their wants leaves me frustrated, exhausted and desperate for an escape. I am, after all, only human, and so are my children (though I do suspect they might be changelings, but that remains unconfirmed) There is no shortage of parenting advice to be had, and in my opinion, nearly all of that advice is bad.  People who don't know me, my kids, or the environment of our household can't possibly be trusted to give good advice.  Random psychoanalysts trying to sell books, should be trusted even less in my opinion.

So, when people write holier than thou articles about how putting kids in a "get along shirt" is not only bad parenting it's akin to racism, I tend to go ballistic.  Parenting is hard enough, especially for those of us who got stuck as stay at home parents by factors we couldn't control, without being bombarded with more judgement than we already receive and already heap on ourselves.  I'm not saying that parents who took pictures of their kids in those shirts and posted them to the internet were right, but we should applaud them for finding a non-violent method of dealing with unacceptable behavior (trust me, some days, that is a huge accomplishment).  We should support them in finding ways to deal with their children that is constructive and that teaches better behavior.  We need to understand that raising children, especially in environments where you can't let them go out and play without constant supervision, is a community effort. We need to acknowledge that becoming a parent doesn't wipe out our needs for time alone, for help, for affection, for community, in many ways, it intensifies these because they all come second to dealing with our children.

So, let's face some important facts about parenting: it's learned, like anything else, except there is no approved, universally accepted set of parenting rules; parenting involves individuals with histories, personalities  and preferences that inform their decisions and behavior at every turn; finally, parenting is often lonely because we feel isolated and judged anytime we need help, which makes it harder to reach out and ask for it.  No two families are identical, and advice givers should be careful to remember that they don't know the back story of the images used in their writings, and that psychology is the least scientific of all sciences, as it's experiments can never truly be replicated. It is also the profession that regularly revises it's positions on therapies, theories and treatment due to the harm caused to patients. We should be as careful  about who we allow to judge other parents, lest they cause more harm. If you want to be concerned about "childism", why pick on desperate parents looking to teach their kids to get along when there are so many other, pressing issues that affect every single child worldwide.  Where is the outrage that children starve, that they are killed in wars, that they have to fight for education and shelter?  Oh, that's right, it wasn't there because the those things happen to poor children, to children we don't have to look in the face.  It isn't there because we then have to do something about it, and that might mean being uncomfortable.






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