When my creative writing professor sophomore year of college asked me what I wanted to be, I instinctively said, “A Mom.” I knew that rather than have my role as a parent be just a part of the larger picture of who I was, it would be a job title, something that I would take seriously, a craft that I would research and develop. Less than ten years later I had my first child, and rather than spend my days enjoying our time together, I often fretted about if she was meeting her developmental milestones, eating the right foods, being exposed to the right toys. We avoided anything battery powered, kept her away from television, and extended her time drinking breast milk past a year.
Then I had my second child and all of my standards of parenting went out the window.
My son watched television because by this time my daughter was allowed to watch television, and after awhile, scheduling down time just doesn’t cut it. We handed him his first piece of pizza to gnaw on – uncut – well before his first birthday, and that kid knows his way around electronics better than my husband. So did I ruin him? Of course not. In fact, the little guy shocked us all when he started reading shortly after turning three, and completing first grade math assignments at four. It wasn’t because of anything I had done other than to get out of his way and let him develop into a fun little boy. It turns out that all of those flashcards and workbooks from my first child were completely unnecessary.
Does this mean that parents should plop their kids in front of videos for six hours a day and replace baby food with take out? Definitely not! It is, of course, important to follow safety guidelines and provide your child with a healthy, enriching environment in which to grow and flourish. But at some point as parents we need to say enough is enough to the parenting trend of the month and follow our intuition instead.
The latest trend in celebrity parenting, the RIE program, is supposed to be the anti-parenting strategy parenting strategy. It abandons educational videos and replaces toys with wooden spoons. It removes kids from popular gym classes and instead plunks them down in RIE group meetings. I have to laugh when I read about these parenting trends, because at the end of the day, isn’t one over-the-top fad just replacing the other?
I get the idea of being a professional mom. I really do. But this recovering over-achiever is putting her foot down on parenting styles and just trying her best to love her children and raise them to be the best people they can be.
Have you found yourself caught up in any parenting fads? Do you think they made you a better mom?