Welcome to the 21st century and the science of parenting. You didnít know it was a science? Well, itís not only a science, itís an industry! The twentieth century was a good one for the "parenting science" industry. Here's what happened: 1) The industry itself was invented. 2) Child development became a recognized field of study. 3) The word ďparentingĒ was coined, and a myriad of parenting resources were born.
Over the course of the last century, experts have multiplied exponentially, and you canít calculate how many books have been and are still being written and published. That would be a great help if this produced ďa unified theory of parenting.Ē Unfortunately, just the opposite is true. According to Ann Hulbertís book Raising America, there is little or no agreement among experts. The bookís jacket points out that a hundred years of parent-oriented advice (thatís right, a hundred years) have clearly failed to ease modern child-raising anxieties. It goes on to say that ďthe advisers, with their shifting formulas and dogmas, in fact proved to be unnerving.Ē I think thatís an understatement.
To make matters worse, there appears to be a growing consensus (judging by media stories) that we need yet another new and different approach to rearing children. It is, after all, the new millennium, and ďthe old ways just donít work anymore.Ē Apparently, the countless and varied approaches that are available on the shelves of every public library in America simply havenít been sufficient. Weíre not confused enough.
So what do we do? Who has the answer? Who knows the secret that will turn us all into the perfect parents we want to be?
Itís not me, Iím sure, but I would like offer you some commonsense observations that may give you a new perspective on your role and your expectations. You can, of course, stop reading this any time you like and conclude that Iím not seeing reality. However, after years of using the suggestions I will post here, I found that being a parent has little to do with science or psychology. Itís much more basic than that.
Iím not suggesting that you shouldnít have a handy reference available for health matters and physical development. The first two years of your childís life are pretty much a matter of surviving and operating on your instincts (if you have any, which I didnít). Itís good to know when they might be teething and how soon they should be expected to sit up or spit up, for that matter.
Iím sure you realize, though, that these questions relate to the physical development of your child, and thatís not where most of us get confused. We all know that we need to feed, clothe, and shelter our children. We know that they shouldnít be in the middle of the street, and we canít let them close to the hot stove. Fire burnsóthankfully, all the experts agree on that. Where is the tome of best practices when it comes to socialization, discipline, and education? If the ďold waysĒ wonít work, with what do we replace them?
Whatís different? Weíre different. A hundred years of conflicting psychological and social advice about children have combined with a changing popular culture to confuse us. Itís not that the ďold waysĒ donít work; itís that we donít use them because most of us are one to two generations removed. Many of us donít even know whatís meant by ďold ways,Ē and the rest of us donít remember. There are also those among us who have been convinced that children, parents, and families have somehow changed to invalidate common sense and basic values, which is what Iíll be discussing here.
Welcome to the new millennium, and welcome to ParentSense.com.