Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Professional Parenting 101

There’s a reason I don’t read women’s magazines. Most of the articles, meant to give women helpful hints on how to better run their lives, make me want to slap someone.

Case in point [and it’s my own fault for borrowing my mother’s copy of the September issue of Family Circle] an article called 'Head of the Class' by Gary Norton Edelman. The article is set up as an advice column for parents who are worried about issues facing their teen and tween age children.

It sounds great in theory. As a parent of a teen and a tween, I am, on occasion, at my wits end. Life was often simpler when the worry of the day was whether or not I had the right flavor of yogurt on hand to stave off a tantrum or if they could figure out how to open their own juice boxes. I think the parents whose questions are addressed in this article, though, have much bigger problems than I ever did, chief among them that they have entirely too much time on their hands and are buying into the idea that every single thing that happens in a child’s life has the potential to scar them for life.

In the first question, a parent asked what she can do to help her child adjust to middle school. This might be a legitimate question if the kid had actually started middle school already and was having problems adjusting, but he hasn’t. So why worry about something that might not be an issue? The parent is fretting that her son will be lost and intimidated, when the possibility exists that the kid will do just great. Nevertheless, she needs professional intervention to deal with his ‘problem.’

Another parent worries because her son doesn’t like to wear a coat. Hmm…I never met a kid who did like to wear a coat. The struggle is age old. What will happen if my child catches a chill? How can I make him dress appropriately? The answer? [Well, my answer anyway,] don’t try. If the kid is older than four, let him go. When he realizes he’s freezing, he’ll start wearing a coat. He’ll never know what being cold feels like if you have a hissy fit and bundle him up in a parka every time he leaves the house.

Yet another parent laments that her children who enjoyed a great summer together will be going to different schools in the fall and won’t get to spend so much time together. What can she possibly do to preserve the closeness they had for those three glorious months? My answer: get a life, sweetheart. Your kids won’t always be close to one another, then again they might be. The older they get, the less it’s up to you how they spend their time, who they spend it with and if they actually like hanging out with their siblings. Deal with it.

My favorite question is from a concerned mom whose son ‘almost missed his bus because he didn’t speak up.’ She needs professional help on how to deal with his passive nature. I have a feeling the kid didn’t speak up because he’s too used to having Mom do it for him.

Stuff like this makes me wonder how anyone survives to adulthood these days. If you can’t ask a parenting expert how to deal with every hiccup your child encounters, how on earth do you raise them properly?

I think what we need are less experts in parenting and more parents who are experts in how to raise their own kids.

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