I talk to a lot of parents. Every so often I say something that triggers a chain of thoughts that I have to share with everyone. This is one of those thoughts.
Parenting is hard. It is hard for everyone. Some people think that wealthy families are better off because they can afford nannies. I’m here to tell you that even most really well-paid nannies really aren’t all that great. So, get that idea out of your head. ALL parents struggle in many different ways.
As a parent, you don’t have to be perfect. You only need to be present. In fact, making mistakes is a really healthy way to parent. Imagine raising children who aren’t afraid to make mistakes, and more importantly, aren’t afraid to admit to them. What a fucking concept. You can’t even believe the difference it makes in the way your child develops into an adult. You’ve just got to trust me when I say this.
I don’t know how we got it into our heads that suddenly, we must know everything the minute we have a child, but this idea is utterly ridiculous. I didn’t know anything about plumbing when I moved into my first apartment, but I’ve learned some things since then. When you work anywhere in the vicinity of children, you learn how to plunge a mean toilet, really fast. And I imagine I have plenty more to learn.
It’s OK to not know everything all at once. Here’s a clue, if you are asking the questions, you’re probably doing OK. In fact, you’re already ahead of the game. The first trick to good parenting is to wonder how badly you are fucking-up your child. If you have ever wondered this, congratulations! You are well on your way to being a great parent!
The second trick is to not worry about it so much. You can accomplish this by not listening to any bullshit some idiot is telling you just because they think they know your child better than you do. This includes me. Many people can offer-up some pretty useful general advice. But very few are going to understand the intricacies of your family dynamics, while at the same time, having a decent working knowledge of child development. Again, this includes me.
In the past, people have accused me of being too “textbook.” Umm… I am probably the least traditional parent educator ever. You know why? Because I cuss. I’m not kidding. I don’t give a shit, I will tell you the truth. Sometimes the truth is, you gotta do what you gotta do. This means that hard and fast rules are really stupid when it comes to parenting. Life happens in the gray area. I don’t care how badly you want it to be black and white. It’s not, and never will be. This is a good thing! Because it means everybody is growing and learning together!
I should mention here that I don’t want anyone to blindly follow my advice. I think people should question everything. Developing parenting skills is like completing a 10,000 piece jigsaw puzzle of the clear blue sky. I’ve been around the block more than a few times, and even I need to shake things up once in a while. What I’m saying is use the best information you have and remember, that like everything else, it is constantly changing.
And stop being so hard on yourself! I mean it! Sometimes the measure of a good day really is if everyone is still alive at the end of it.