Parenting Advice – helpful or holier than thou?

I find parenting advice a double edged sword. There are always a million different people claiming to be experts, telling you how to parent in a million different ways that will ‘absolutely’ work for your child. Not to mention your friends with children who also have a helpful suggestion here and some well intended advice there.  Most of it is annoying, most of it doesn’t work, most of it doesn’t apply to your own child and some of it is possibly helpful once you try it after you’ve spent ages trying out every other type of technique  just so that you don’t have to take the advice of someone who thinks they know better than you.

As usual I’ve got many thoughts and questions about all of this – what is it about parenting advice from other ‘do-gooders’ that drives me crazy? Is it me or them? Am I naturally prone to rejecting advice from certain people and welcome it from others? Am I predisposed to want to poke in the eye anyone who offers their opinion without solicitation?  And when I give advice or my opinions on parenting topics am I doing out of love and support – or to put bright neon lights around the fact that I can do and you can’t!  Do our own egos get in the way of accepting help?  Is there a general rule of thumb that if someone didn’t ask for help – don’t give it? Sometimes a rant on Facebook or a parenting forum is the chance to just get someone to virtually put an arm around you and commiserate rather than tell you how you could be doing it better. Is there a way that a community of other struggling mums can come together in a non-judgemental way to support each other in their quest to keep their children alive at least until they get to 18!

In answer to the question “Am I predisposed to rejecting advice from certain people and welcome it from others” the answer is a resounding YES!! How many times have I heard another mum say to me, I’m so glad you are honest about that, it makes me feel so much better. It’s our admission of our mistakes that enable others to come to us for help and support.  I love it when people admit their mistakes, I had a doctor very recently tell me that he used to give his kids Piriton when they went out for the night so they wouldn’t be a bother for the baby sitters! Bloody brilliant – and he’s a doctor!! A doctor admitting that he drugged his children for a bit of peace and quiet!  I can hear all of the perfect parents tutting as they read this – perfect parents are welcome to move along. I am much more willing to get help and support from someone who admits they aren’t perfect and they struggle too – anything else is either too much to live up to or far too depressing.

I once read that good parenting is not the absence of mistakes it’s how you deal with those mistakes that matter. So here is my parenting advice!  Aim for good enough – perfect is an impossibility.  I don’t think our children want or need perfection either, they need to see us freak out, so they learn how to come back from their own freak outs, they need to hear us apologise so that they learn how to say sorry when they need to. They need to see us get angry and learn that the darker emotions we all have are a valuable part of us too. They need to see us ‘do life’ with all it’s arguments, upsets, trials and tribulations – the world we live in and the world they will grow up in is a tough one – they will need to gain the emotional tools to navigate it themselves without crumbling.  Equally they need to see us believing in ourselves and our own imagination taking flight as we take on new challenges and battles – how else will they learn that they can do anything they want to.  They need us to openly communicate with them about our money struggles – how else will they learn to budget and understand that they can’t just get what they want when they want.  They need to see us naked (oh yes) – then hopefully they will grow up understanding that the hamster wheel of perfection doesn’t exist and maybe a new culture of ‘just as you are’ can grow and thrive. They need to see us emotionally naked, show our vulnerability and talking about our feelings about so hopefully they can make friends with their inner voice and instincts that are ultimately so helpful in guiding us. OK that’s enough – turning into a parenting advice book now, urgh.

This is a book which is brilliant in helping a child get in touch with their inner feelings. As adults I think we loose touch with this thing called a soul and what ever that may mean to us, this book describes a bird that lives in our soul that is the keeper of our feelings.

On one of the extremely touching pages, the soul bird listens carefully to how it’s name is called, is it being called in a nice way or a nasty way. Since reading this book with my son,  I have been able to say to him, what is your soul bird doing – or what is your soul bird feeling, as a way of allowing him to think about what he is feeling inside. Anyway we have found it very helpful.

I try so hard to be honest in life and that goes for my parenting too. I may make an enormous amounts of mistakes but I am honest about them. Honesty is a double edged sword too – though that will be a blog topic for another day.  So what are your thoughts? Agree or disagree I’d love to hear them!

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About amywriting

I love words. I love the way they sound, the meaning they have, the way that they are used. I love their power, their creativity and how descriptive and evocative they can be. Any chance that I get to be creative and use words well gets me very excited. I love poetry, song, art, music, photography, baking, creating, experimenting and laughing!

Posted on August 23, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I’m a new dad and I’m slowly learning from experience and from others. Their tips and suggestions provide a benchmark for my own decisions. But in the end it is still Me and my wife who decides what’s best for our daughter.

    • That’s really great. Congratulations on becoming a dad. You raise an interesting point for me. I have no idea what it’s like to be a dad. I wonder if there is less competition amongst dads. Or perhaps amongst women there is this automatic defensive against accepting some advice that stems from a feeling that we must automatically know what we’re doing if we’re mum because that’s ‘natural’. Not that I speak for all women. I am sure there are plenty of women who can take advice! Good to have your perspective.

  2. My wife is open to ideas. She reads a lot and listens to other people. But what’s great is that she takes it all in and sorts through all the information first.

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