Monday, August 12, 2013

Advice Overload

I just read a parenting article that made me feel like a failure as a mom.  I know I'm not a failure, but many times, when I read articles about how I should not rush my kids, stop and smell the roses, nurture their artistic side, take them on amazing vacations, teach them math facts, be sensitive to all their many emotions, listen, don't yell, be authoritative, and on and on, I feel overwhelmed.  It's not that I don't think most of theses things are pieces of good parenting.  It's that I am human.  I am a real woman with a personality, and it is flawed.  I don't like yelling at my kids.  I don't do it often, but every now and then, the mommy bomb goes off because I just cannot take it anymore.  The thing about reading parenting articles is, it makes me uber-analytical about my own parenting.  I start worrying that I've permanently scarred my kids because I am an imperfect parent.  I know this is not the intent of the articles.  They are meant to be helpful, and I wish I could just take them as possibly useful little nuggets of information without obsessing over whether or not I measure up to them for days on end.
I did come up with a thought recently, though, while on vacation without the kids - just about the only time I am capable of original thought.  I am not one hundred percent responsible for the adults my kids will become.  Maybe some of you are thinking, "well, duh," but it was nothing short of epiphany for me.  There are their own genetics, which come from Jason and me, but are hardly within our control.  There will be school, friends, teachers, jobs, random circumstance.  It's not all on us as parents.  When I think about it, the one thing I could do to improve my parenting would be to freaking relax a bit.  When Jack was born, I was a ball of stress.  I was so afraid something would go wrong or I would somehow mess him up.  With Gage I was better, but there's still that whisper saying, "You've been doing it wrong," almost every time I read an article with parenting advice in it.  I don't know why I'm convinced article writers know how I should be raising my children necessarily.  I mean, they're my kids, right?  I know them, and I even have an actual degree in child development and family relations, so I should basically know what I'm doing, even if I'm not perfect.  Sometimes, I actually think if I knew less about child rearing, I'd be happier.  Ignorance is bliss, right?  So since I can't manage to take parenting advice from the experts lightly, I think I'll stop reading the articles.  It's just like when I was fourteen and stopped reading Seventeen magazine, because leafing through it and seeing all the stick-skinny models made me feel bad about myself.  Don't get me wrong; all the information available to parents these days can be great.  It can give you ideas about how to solve problems with your kids, and it can make you realize you're not the only one experiencing something.  I just wish there were a few more articles out there telling us parents, it's okay if you're not perfect.  Your kids are not going to grow up to be serial killers because you yelled at them one time for dumping a whole box of Cheerios on the floor.  They may be serial killers, but it won't be because you yelled at them.

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