Today’s post is an effort to stay on target with our Reclaiming Our Power series on the societal influences of postpartum mood disorders. This topic- Too Many Experts- requires a post much longer than I can provide in this setting, so bear with me as I briefly skim the surface of the problem.
We have the same hopes and goals for our children as generations past. Somehow, though, this generation of parents is more anxious and stressed about it. We have seen the results of where previous generations “went wrong” in their parenting and the negative outcomes that stemmed from parenting practices.
We don’t want to get it wrong. None of us wants to raise assholes. We all want to rear well-intentioned people who are emotionally healthy and respectful of others. We want our children to be good at math, to follow their dreams, to stand up for themselves and defend those that need defending. We want them to be tenacious and unrelenting in pursuing their goals, trust us with their deepest secrets and fears, and be creative AF.
Thanks to experts in the fields of psychology, sociology, and child development we can give our children so much more than our parents ever gave to us to improve brain growth and emotional stability. These experts have provided us with developmentally beneficial and life-saving habits like early sign language use and putting babies to sleep on their backs. They’ve let us know that hitting our children never has positive outcomes, telling our kids to man up or not to cry only promotes the suppression of healthy emotions and stunts empathic tendencies and that it is necessary to expose our boys and girls to toys and activities once reserved for only one gender or the other. No one can argue that seatbelts and vaccines and bicycle helmets and aren’t life-saving and necessary. And enough time has passed with our tech gadgets to study the effects of the persistence of such intrusive technology on young minds.
We’ve come a long way. But, as the pendulum swings toward progress, it often goes too far. We get caught up in extremes of parenting, losing sight of the basics and increasing our anxieties to unhealthy levels. I can’t tell you how many parenting websites I’ve been to, each contradicting each other. How long is too long to let your child suck a pacifier? Is crying-it-out damaging? Co-sleeping—healthy or unhealthy? To leash or not to leash? “Exposing fetuses to Mozart creates geniuses.” Or not?
What matters is that we create a safe physical environment for our children to explore and discover, and a stable emotional haven within our children can flourish. We need to be present, teach them how to learn and problem-solve, and comfort them ALWAYS. Not all experts know what they are talking about. But, tried and true are the methods of parenting that encourage emotional well-being, foster creativity, curiosity, trust, and self-reliance, and allow for the safety of our children and others’. Following “expert” advice that promotes such practices are your best bet.
The best article I have found about what makes a good parent is by Jeanie Lerch Davis, located here on WebMD. It says nothing about whether or not you formula-feed, co-sleep, limit screen time or encourage pacifier use. Instead, it focuses on promoting healthy parent-child relationships, based on nurturing trust and consistency.
If we can focus on what matters- safety, trust, stable emotional health, and stop fretting about the trivial minutiae of parenting, our parenting-induced mental health issues will lessen and we will be more confident in the choices and habits we instill in our children. And there will be fewer assholes.