Sunday, April 08, 2007

Parenting Advice

Here is the key to parenting: It is difficult. There is no way around it. And anyone who tries to sell you a book that will make it less unwieldy, less scary, less disorderly, is selling you a pack of lies. At least that is what I think. But if your experience is different, I'm okay with that.

But Dr. Spock. Dr. Sears. John Rosemond. Dr. Dobson. The FlyLady. They don't work for me. Timeouts. Spanking. Reward charts. Not my cup of tea.

I have been disillusioned way too many times.

Not to say that keeping an orderly house doesn't make life a little more bearable, or that a timeout or a sticker chart can't help in some situations. But I'm the kind of gal that needs a bag of tricks. A parenting toolkit.

And underneath it all, what really works for me is being a calm and gentle person myself, working on not throwing my own tantrums. Working on being the best example I can for my children. Communicating as authentically as I can with them.

I always have this little voice in the back of my head that chides me for not being in better control of my children. But here's something I have realized, and I know it may rub some people the wrong way: My goal is not to control my children. My goal is to help them be loving, thriving adults. And I think the journey there will be awkward, tiring, and not always very pretty. And of course, there will also be moments of nearly unbearable beauty and joy.

Maybe I'm letting myself off the hook. My children behave horribly sometimes. But I don't often feel that their behavior really corrolates with how "good" of a parent I'm being at the time, how strict a disciplinarian or how perfectly I remember to reward the good behavior.

The better I discipline myself, the better our life together feels. And that's about all the advice I can give.


Molly Sabourin said...

My mom once told me that "well behaved" does not mean "well adjusted," and I have carried that mantra in my heart through many a melt down.

Ser said...

I love that, Molly. And how great that it was your mom that said it. I think many people find tension between how they raise their children and how their parents raised them. (I know you are reading, Mom and Dad, and I'm not talking specifically about you--although I must admit, when I wrote the "it might rub some people the wrong way" line I did have you in the back of my head.)