Okay, seriously. If I scroll across one more parenting article on Facebook telling me what I am or am not doing right, I might scream. Am I too engaged or not engaged enough? Are we raising a society of overly indulged children or doing psychological harm with time outs? Am I a helicopter parenting or criminally negligent if I let my kids play outside? And what exactly are the 365 things I need to teach my daughter before she’s 6 months old?!?!
Who knows the answers to these questions?? Well, the trouble is: everyone does. Everyone has an opinion, as they always have, and in this technological age, they are free to express it – widely. The real trouble with raising “kids these days” is that we live in an era of information overload. We are trained to believe there is an answer to everything, and if we Google long enough, we will be sure to find it. I don’t need to know the capitals of the 50 states…I just need to know how to find the capital of a state if and when I need to. Same goes for parenting, right?
Unfortunately, no. Though, there was a time when I guilty of believing it was, at least in part. I’ve read an obscene number of parenting books and have ‘shared’ plenty of the articles that now cause my involuntary eye-rolls. Like a freshman in those initial few months of high school, as a first time mom, I self-consciously sought out a group to call my own. Almost immediately, I labelled my parenting (thank goodness I never came across an AP 4 lyfe bumper sticker). I came to realize over the course of several years and 3 children, that a label wasn’t necessary, nor was adhering to any one particular philosophy. All that “information” that I had gathered in my many hours on the internet, eventually all came out in the wash. What’s worse was this constant need for self-improvement that I picked up somewhere along the way. “What I would do differently if I could go back now” articles are an especially guilty pleasure of mine. At any given point, surely there is something I could be doing better, right?? But when I’m looking for the next thing to be fixed, I only focus on what might be broken rather than sinking into all that is right.
The trouble is that the stakes are high, so of course we want to use all of the information at our fingertips to do the very best job we can do. Not to mention, the community and connection it can provide is invaluable (I’m just as glad as anyone that with a few strokes of my fingertips, I can be reassured that, yes, 92837597 temper tantrums a day is normal for a 3 year old.) However, with its vast amount of information and frequently contradictory opinions, this resource comes with trade-offs. At a certain point, we need to drown out all the voices that barrage us day in and day out so we can listen to the quiet one we find within. What those parenting articles won’t tell you is this: there is no greater expert on raising your children than you.