Number 1 Parenting Secret: THIS IS IT!
It’s so simple. But I’ve got it. The secret to having your kid turn out great. I mean GREAT! Outstanding. His or her best self. It’s so simple I almost shouldn’t tell you and make you guess. I’ve arrived at this secret after hours and hours of analyzing parenting styles and habits. If I know you, you may have been part of my secret study. Sorry. And it’s pretty basic. And I’m sure I’m right.
Ready? Pay attention to your child.
Mind blown? Me too. Here’s why. The experts offer a million different styles and solutions to your child’s developmental and behavioral antics. But every single one’s suitability depends on who your child actually is. You can only make the appropriate determinations if you’ve been paying attention to your child. Not who you to who think your child should be, or how you want them to act. Observe first; then match temperament with style selection.
If you are attentive, you’ll make the best decisions you can on discipline, nutrition, and love. The mere fact you’re paying attention, whether you’re a lax or strict parent, means your child is getting you from you. And that’s (almost) all they need to thrive. And it’s almost all you need to be a good parent.
The attentive parent is inevitably introspective. You kinda have to be. Because you make determinations based on observations. And then have to draw some conclusions. And then have to form some opinions. And then have to implement them.
Case in point: how can people parent so differently but still raise nice, loving children and eventually, adults? How can one parent be relaxed and another strict? One allow suckers and screen time and the other raw sugar sweetened whole wheat cookies and only YouTube videos of Pablo Cassals playing the cello? Can both these approaches yield lovely people?
Yes. Because if Parent A is paying attention, the suckers won’t be abused. And the screen time will be limited. Parent A has observed the effect of both on child and determined them to be okay. Parent B knows sugar has rocked her child’s brain and caused more distress than it was worth. And that so long as her child can identify a screen and its appropriate purposes, her child won’t be completely maladjusted.
Parents must make informed decisions based on their family needs, child’s aptitude, available scientific and medical information, and cultural heritage. I.e., pay attention. I will not argue with a mother who allows for more permissive play (dirt eating, paper shredding, biting things open) than I perhaps would if she’s making an attentive decision. Unless it’s my property her child is
destroying experiencing in a sensory manner.
Be attentive. Then trust your decisions. And don’t be afraid to adjust or change them as it may be necessary. Inform your opinions, blend a little common sense in there, and voila. You are the perfect parent for your child. We all need to stop looking over other parents’ shoulders and second-guessing them, unless they’re not paying attention. Then judge away because even the exhausted burnt out parent can still eek out enough attention to make basic decisions like whether or not to stop their child from shrieking in a group setting (my son yesterday at moms’ group!).