You know what? There has been a bit of backlash against parenting blogs in the past few years and I kind of get it. Now that I have a six-year-old, and my twins are three, I don’t feel the need to read about parenting constantly. I sort of get how to do it at this point and I don’t feel the pressure as much to be perfect. I also don’t feel the need to argue over whose parenting style is better. Is The Chinese Parenting Way better? I don’t care! Not only do I not care but I don’t have a parenting style to argue about even if I wanted to argue about it. Which I don’t. Despite the fact that I do sort of enjoy arguing.
Here’s my parenting non-style (but not my non-parenting style): whatever works. I buy organic chicken at Whole Paycheck but I also buy Goldfish crackers in bulk. I used disposable diapers, formula fed when breast feeding left me feeling like a loser and let my kids watch plenty of TV. I keep a very regular bedtime routine. I don’t insist on a bath every night (and sometimes teeth brushing gets pushed off til morning) but story time is sacred. Maybe that’s my parenting philosophy: read! But I’m not going to have that embroidered onto a pillow anytime soon.
All three of my children are smart, beautiful, okay one of them may be a smidge sociopathic but other than that… normal kids. It’s working out despite not reading a million books on it or poring over parenting websites and articles about every little thing. I don’t believe for a minute that Asian women are superior mothers or that working moms suck or that stay-at-home moms are more blessed or that there is any magic answer to any of our age old parenting problems -except maybe sleep and that magic answer is Benedryl. But you didn’t read that here.
Do my husband and I worry about certain things? Of course we do. I absolutely get anxious about many of our decisions. I visited about fourteen different preschools before I found one I loved -not because it met the criteria I’d written out on a legal sized document but because it felt absolutely right. I still love this preschool and although Elby has moved on to Kindergarten (at a charter school after researching and sweating over my options for months), the twins are happily finger painting there as I type.
I’m certainly not advocating any sort of hands off style either. I was a latch key kid and I don’t glorify the time when beanbags were all the rage and kids fended for themselves. It wasn’t fine. I walked home from school every day by myself or with another latch key kid from the time I was in first grade. In third grade, after school, since I had no supervision, I used to go to a pizza place where the owner -a greasy guy in his mid-fifties – would invite me and my friend to come into the backroom and watch him spin pizza dough. He also enjoyed dry humping us from behind while we made ourselves cones from the soft serve machine. I think he may have done more than that with my friend. Good times. So just because someone else wants to Free Range it with their kids and it becomes the next big thing does not mean that I’m going to hop on that bandwagon. Hell I don’t let my kids play in the front yard unsupervised even though we live on a very low traffic side street. We have an enclosed back yard so why chance some weirdo snatching them up or Sadie wandering into the street when I don’t need to?
I care about things like how many cookies they eat or how much TV they watch but I temper that with being aware of how those factors are actually affecting them and not just base it on the latest scare study. They may love TV but it doesn’t seem to be giving them ADD or making them lose interest in using their imaginations. So, do they sometimes watch a shitload of it in one day? Yeah. And guess what -sometimes they don’t watch TV at all! You don’t know what I’m going to do next! I’m a crazy renegade! My mother only let me watch a half hour of television a day so I was forced to sneak. I ended up watching about ten times more TV plus I’d be stuck trying to figure out how to make the TV cool down so she wouldn’t catch me. I’m not the sweets police either; when Elby’s had a couple of cookies for dessert and she asks if she can have one more, I give it to her! Some may think I’m giving childhood obesity the finger but I’m just crazy like that.
I don’t discipline my children just for sake of having a “stance on discipline.” I let my kids’ personalities dictate which tact to use. Elby rarely ever needs a time out or for me to raise my voice. She’s eager to please, sensitive and easy to redirect. Matilda’s been known to have five time outs in one day. It works for her.
Let me bottom line my position on this: I absolutely love my kids and love parenting them. I also know I’m far from perfect. I had no idea how hard it was going to be and how many things people were going to want me to freak the fuck out over. So after freaking the fuck out at firstand questioning how every single decision could screw them up, I’ve learned what studies, schools of thought and parenting trends are worth my attention and what to just screen out. And in case you’re wondering, the Chinese Parenting article? Didn’t bother to read it.