23 February 2006

Egoless parenting

Stu has this to say about parenting honestly:

My hack is simple. Be open about the difficulties of parenting. Be open to other ideas and be supportive of criticism. There is no shame in needing assistance in order to become a better parent. In other words, contrary to popular opinion: Please tell me how to better parent my child! The worst thing that could happen is that I would disagree with your advice and choose not to follow your example. Parenting should be egoless.

I agree that perfectionism and defensiveness never helps. We've all got blind spots. As long as you a) respect your own gut instincts (I can't stress this enough) and b) remember that every child and family is unique, other perspectives often illuminate what can be a dark and twisty road.

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But if we followed this advice the shows "Wife Swap" and "Trading Spouses" would be extremely boring.

Reminds me of something my friend, a high school teacher, told me about Parent-Teacher conferences. He said that never once had a parent come to the meetings with questions like, "What am I doing wrong that is contributing to Johnny's problems in school," or even "What can I do to help?"

Usually it was a combination of blame toward the school system, the teachers, and, sadly enough, the child in question.

When I talk to any teacher, I am very specific to say "What can I do better?"... That is the bottom line. The teacher is doing the best they can, my kid is doing the best they can, the rest is up to me. If I assume that I'm the weak link, even if I'm not, just approaching problems with that mindset makes everyone else work harder. I believe that, ultimately, I am responsible for everything that shows up in my life. And I will not shy away from that responsibility, not with my kids' happiness on the line.

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