Being a parent right now, in conjunction with the Internet, is a blessing and a curse. While our resources are unlimited and the ability to relate to thousands of others going through the same issues is just a click away, so too is judgment and post after post about how YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.
It’s exhausting and, quite frankly, I’ve stopped reading all of it. I’ve adopted a more natural approach to parenting. I’ve stopped sweating all the stuff that millions of articles have been dedicated to exploring; co-sleeping is good/bad; when should my kid be potty-trained; at what age should kids start talking; my kid hates school; when should I buy a cell phone for my child? The truth is this: there are no answers on the Internet. You know your kid better than anyone and can intuit these answers on your own. Seeking an outside opinion only muddies the water and could end in you attempting solutions that are a bad fit for your child.
A piece written by Lisa Abeyta on The Huffington Post called “Why We Should Stop Worrying If People Like Our Kids” speaks to letting your kid be his or her unique self instead of trying to force their personality into some preconceived notion of what constitutes the perfect child based on the plethora of information jammed down our throats courtesy of Facebook and Twitter and blogs.
Abeyta’s son was having trouble with his second grade teacher. The boy was, as Abeyta tells it, “accepted into special ed with a long list of learning disabilities including dyslexia, dysgraphia, and auditory processing disorder.” Unfortunately for him he landed a teacher who prided herself on organization and rigid discipline and adopted a self-defined goal of curing him of his “bad habits.” Abeyta was eventually forced into the position of telling her son not to listen to his teacher during a parent-teacher conference during which the teacher rattled off a laundry list of ways in which the boy was a bad student, right in front of him. “I ignored her and turned directly to face my son. I put my hand under his chin and lifted his head until his eyes met mine. I said, “Do not listen to her. You are not a problem. You are wonderful and unique, and you will one day do amazing things because of your special gifts. Do not listen to her.”
A solid policy. Do not listen to her. And it’s what you should do too when it comes to navigating the shark-infesting parenting waters. Do not listen to them. Do what’s right for you and your child. You know your baby better than anyone. You know their quirks, nuances, and all the unique things that make up your kid’s personality — and that means you know best. As Abeyta so beautifully puts it:
“I have also come to understand that it is so not my job to make my kid feel defective because he doesn’t fit in the right box. There are a long list of leaders across multiple industries who all rose to those heights in their careers by not fitting in a box, by not being the “easy kid in class.” While I won’t tolerate bad morals or bad behavior, I am completely over apologizing to anyone for my kid not being some bland version of himself so that he’s easier to manage. When I stopped worrying whether someone else was comfortable around my kid or liked them, I discovered something pretty magical. I discovered I genuinely like my kid. Just as he is.”
I far prefer a unique, quirky child than trying to squash their personality into somebody else’s idea of a good kid. It is my responsibility to raise a good citizen of Earth, but as Lisa Abeyta notes, do it in a way that my kids can embrace their unique gifts and decide what their contribution is going to be.
Imag courtesy of Monica Bielanko