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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Why I Don't Give Advice About Parenting

Just because you have the right to an opinion doesn't mean that you should always share it!

I find it rather interesting these day how much "other people" as in many times complete strangers feel the need to weigh on how another should parent. I find this ridiculous. Don't ask people when they are going to have a baby. Don't worry if someone uses the "Elf on the Shelf" to help motivate their children or if someone thinks it is the creepiest thing ever.  Be careful not to share your opinions and what works for you in a way that makes others feel stupid or belittled. Parents have enough to worry about I think we should empower them more where they stand to do what they need to become the best parents they can. To each his/her own.

Let's take the way the computer came to be as an example. For years it was all about the big box that only companies could afford and that was the way it was. Then someone came along and thought I think we should make computers that people can have in their homes. This, of course, was unheard of. Then later someone else came along and said I think we should make computers that are mobile and that you can carry around. Crazy making! Then, of course, someone suggested we make computers/phones that you can literally hold in your hand. Absurd!  Thank goodness there is really NO one way to make or use a computer.

This is how I see parenting. Creative, individualized, personal, crazy making, absurd, unheard of, delightful, surprising, hard, eternal, heart-breaking, etc. You have seen how it goes, someone comes out with the best way to discipline a kid and writes a best seller  and just around the corner is someone else disproving that technique. It used to be that only way to train or teach a kid was to spank them. Then it was decided that we can't spank children but we can put then in time-out. Then it came out that time-out doesn't stimulate or teach your child so we should create a reward system and natural consequences and the list goes on.

So you can see there a multitude of choices, books, classes, advice, etc. on how to be a good parent and how to do parenting the right way. The thing is I have always believed that the best way for a parent to parent their child is for them to do it. I can't imagine giving someone else (unsolicited) advice about how to parent their child. I have 3 sisters that are married and 2 that have children. Even though I am a professional adolescent therapist and have spent years talking with kids and parents about to best communicate, set boundaries, and get along—I think they would laugh me out of the room if I started to tell them what I thought about their parenting skills.

Now don't get me wrong—clearly there are better ways to parent and bad ways to parent. That is where my job comes into play. I feel confident when someone is seeking professional help to better parent or communicate with their child that I have the training and experience to give them help/advice. When solicited or when one is seeking help this is a great time to share what you know, have read, think works best.  You are empowered to have your own opinions and experience and when asked to share what you think. The opposite, seems to drive people away. Unsolicited advice never seems to work.

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