391. Parenting Correctly

I know parents who believe that they have found the “correct” way to parent. Some lecture other people on the “correct” way, and disapprove of people who parent “incorrectly.” Some of these people do have lovable, competent children, and should take some credit for parenting effectively, but I’m wary of attempts to turn one person’s road to success into a “correct” way.
The world is filled with lovable, capable adults, most of whom were parented in different ways. Some parents teach their children religion, and religion can help. The first commandment in my religion is “Honor thy father and thy mother.” I wish it were “Honor thy father, thy mother, and thy children.” But I think my parents honor me pretty well, and I honor my children as well as I can. And honoring children is not listed as a sin, so I think we’re still in the ball park.
Behaviorists, humanists, and other believers in schools of psychology raise children to be proud of. I’ve heard it said that the children of psychologists are among the most messed up children, but I don’t believe it. I think it’s that people expect more of these children, and are more likely to notice problems when they occur. If psychologists’ children have problems, it takes some pressure off us non-psychologists. We don’t have to worry so much about parenting “correctly,” because even the ones who define “correctly” are having trouble.
I think there are roughly four billion kinds of people in the world, and each one has been and should have been parented differently. I think that if we listen to our children and listen to each other, we stand a better chance of gathering all the insight we need. It doesn’t hurt to read books and articles about parenting, and it doesn’t hurt to attend lectures and workshops and listen to people who present themselves as experts. Such people can still have useful insights.
I’ve written an awful lot about my approach to parenting, and I know I’ve sometimes referred to “good parents.” But I hope I haven’t painted myself into a corner. I’ve mentioned a few things I don’t think parents should ever do to their children (e.g., hit them), but I’ve tried not to present my thoughts as THE WAY to parent. There are many ways, and I keep hearing about great new ones.
Many of us try to give our children the sense that they are doing okay.
Some parents have stricter standards than others, so that “doing okay” ends up meaning different things to different people. But most of us have got some things in common. We would rather have our children grow up grateful that their parents did such a good job than have them spend lots of time and money
working to undo all the damage their toxic parents have done to them. So some of us long for a “correct” way to parent. But I don’t think there is one.

Comments are closed.