For the past five years I've been chatting away about the big world of parenting. Along with a zillion other journalists, bloggers, and commenters, it seems like the parents of today just can't get enough of the discussion. (And some non-parents too, have you seen STFU, Parents?) If you want to start a rollicking talk at your next social event, throw out any of the following words or phrases: Tiger Mom, Bugaboo, smug pregnant women, stay-at-home dads, breastfeeding in public, circumcision ban.
I've personally written on all of the above, and then some. And even though I often feel really, really burned out discussing all this business and ready to just STFU myself, I keep getting drawn back into the web of parenting. It turns out, this is a good thing. And the fact that all of you are reading, and commenting, is also a good thing. It actually makes us better parents.
Not unlike going to school, the more aware you are of different ways of thinking, the better you get at making good choices. Simply knowing that some people have really good luck with crying it out and others think it's child abuse means you're thinking about what's best for your child. Hooray! And good job, mom and dad. Focusing on your family and the issues that surround your children is the best way to be a fantastic parent.
I myself went from "No way will I co-sleep" to sleeping in a bed filled with children. I see the value in both. I've spent a lot of money on baby gear, and I've orchestrated kid clothing swaps. Again, I can see the appeal in doing what you want and in saving yourself a ton of cash for more important things. Just this summer I flipped my parenting style completely around when I suddenly had a 5-year-old who was going through a massive transition. If I hadn't been reading, learning, and discussing this (terrifying!) stage, I probably would have been lost.
It makes total sense. Even if you're disagreeing with someone, you're becoming aware that there are alternate realities, and some people have better luck making a different choice. Of course if you're one of those people that only reads so they can say, "I'm better than you and nothing will change my mind," it's doubtful that you'll ever make any progress in parenting or in life. You've got to be open and flexible in order to try on other people's ideas. Still, there is hope for that person who only reads parenting articles and books in order to trash them. Maybe someday, way on down the line, she'll realize she might not have all the answers and will circle back to what she's commented on before.
So keep on reading, keep on ranting, keep on thinking. It will help you and your kids.
Do you see the value in talking about parenting all the damn time?
Image via dougbutchy/Flickr