We’ve come a long way from the days of Dr. Spock, the kindly pediatrician who won his way into the hearts of parents with the first line of his classic parenting guide, “You know more than you think you do.” A generation ago, a generation before the boom in parenting information, parents weren’t plagued with indecision.
Did my mother do a cost benefit analysis before turning on “Sesame Street” for me when I was five so she could take a shower? Did she worry that she was educationally depriving me or shirking her parental duties by using the TV as a babysitter in order to wash the Cheerios gunk out of her hair? Heck no.
Did she carefully choose her words when reprimanding me to make sure that there were no negative words that would set a negative tone, like using the word “No” too many times? Please.
When I was kid, my mother did a million loving things with my brother and me without having to be told by experts that they were the right things to do. She told us she loved us every day. She wrote little notes on our lunch napkins. My dad told us stories he made up about our dog Daphne and the fictional Mr. Honeydew Melon. He wrestled with us on the floor and let us win. He did wild things to make us laugh, like having lobsters chase the dog around the kitchen floor before he cooked them (a definite no-no in today’s world).
I’m not anti-parenting information. Information can be good. It provides parents with valuable tools they can use to try to figure out the overall puzzle. But the rigid pieces of advice carrying judgmental overtones can hinder good parenting, logical parenting, parenting tailor-made for individual kids.
“Thinking with your gut” is the “new” term buzzing around Internet sites telling businesspeople how to use their internal compasses to lead them to good decisions. Overthinking, overanalyzing is anathema to what they’re calling “a real form of knowledge.” Where’s the move to promote parenting from instinct -- to trust you're gut -- you're child's personal expert.
What it boils down to is this: We parents should have less internal wrangling, less uncertainty when it comes to making our parenting decisions. Spock was right. We know more than we think we do. We as parents need more confidence and conviction when it comes to the tough parenting issues and practice listening to that enternal voice that knows right from wrong when it comes to your children.