We’re All Parenting Wrong (supposedly)
Maybe I’m parenting wrong because I potty trained too early.
Maybe I’m parenting wrong because an article Great Aunt Edna* shared is insisting that if I don’t curb my daughter’s enjoyment of Peppa Pig now, her whole life will be squandered in front of screens.
Maybe I’m parenting wrong because I don’t ban sparkly glittery pink and purple things from my daughter’s closet.
Maybe I’m parenting wrong because I don’t care about teaching my kid to code in preschool.
Maybe I’m parenting wrong because I potty trained too late.
Maybe maybe maybe maybe maybe…
Or maybe I’m just done with parenting thinkpieces that browbeat me about choices. Maybe I’m so over being told that I have to potty train my child a certain way, or else it will inevitably fail (it didn’t). Maybe I’m exhausted from worrying that I’m doing it wrong, all wrong, no matter what way I do it.
The way some articles tell it, if I don’t give my child coding toys, she’ll never get a job. If I potty train with a sticker chart or M&Ms, the bribery will spoil them or they won’t use the potty without the bribe ever. If I potty train too early, she’ll struggle. But if I potty train too late, she’ll struggle too! If I respond to my daughter’s tantrum with a hint of frustration, I’m invalidating her feelings, and she’ll grow up to be an adult with a black hole in her heart where the empathy should be. But if I cater to her every fleeting feeling, she’s going to think the world revolves around her feelings. If I let my daughter wear pink, I’m a bad feminist, but if I ban pink, I’m buying into the social construct of “boy” colors being superior. There’s no winning! No matter what you do, someone will come along with an opinion that it’s wrong.
So look — I think we can agree on some basic things, right parenting Internet?
We are trying to do the best we can. We are feeding our children the best way we can, we are using the resources we have, to the best of our abilities. Not everyone has the same resources, but I think most parents are trying with what they have. We are all trying to make it through this parenting gig without inflicting harm. And if, as we scrape and claw our way over this mountain (there is no way around it, there is no way under it, we have to go over it), we put on some Peppa, or say yes to the glittery pink dress…we’re still going to get to the top of the mountain pretty well in-tact as good parents, and with our kids as good, decent humans, with different abilities, interests, talents, desires and drives. We aren’t going to break them by potty training with stickers versus without, slightly earlier or slightly later. I really, really, really think it’ll be okay.
I’m tired of parenting thinkpieces insisting it’s their way or the highway, making me doubt my own instincts. I’ve probably been guilty of it myself — it’s easy to think that what worked for you will work for everyone; we all want to believe we’re the ones who figured it out. So I’m happy to read opinions about ways to do things and find solutions to problems because I don’t have all the answers, but once an article starts turning into “do it this way or you’re going to be sooorrryyyyy” I am closing out the thinkpiece tab. I’m not parenting wrong, and neither are you. Pick the kind of wrong you want to be (because there will always be someone who thinks you’re doing it wrong), and settle on that being okay with you.
I mean you might be doing it wrong about…
Just kidding! I’m sure you are doing just fine.
*I think we all share the same Great Aunt Edna on Facebook right? The one who is constantly sharing parenting thinkpieces clearly aimed at her younger parenting relatives? Is it, like, a requirement for all Great Aunt Ednas to do this? Are they working quietly towards their Great Aunt Edna Continuing Certification? I’m onto you, Ednas.