So on top of last week’s revelation that you’re a worse parent than you think, comes The Onion’s assertation that no matter how you parent, you suck. In study published last week, someone very smart determined that every style of parenting produces disturbed, miserable adults. And yes, it’s from the Onion so of course it’s a joke, but frankly, the point is well taken. Doesn’t it seem that from every angle, every slant, no matter what you do, you can find a study that tells you you’re either doing absolutely the right! or completely epically wrong! thing. If you were to assemble every parenting study and every outcome, it’s probably quite likely to be fact: no matter what you do, you’re going to screw them up somehow.
But am I the only one that finds this realization liberating? It’s impossible to NOT screw your kid up, even with the best of intentions.If I’m too loving she’ll be neurotic. If I’m too cold she’ll be emotionally withdrawn. If I tell her princesses are nice she’ll grow up to be a Kardashian. If I tell her princesses are evil she’ll grow up to be an axe murderer. And on and on it goes. I cannot help but raise – god forbid – a flawed human being. Just like me, and you, and everyone else.
Truth? Whether you raise a perfectly well adjusted nobel prize winner or an oaf who won’t get off your couch at age 34 has less to do with whether you let him watch Spongebob as a kid and a lot more to do with luck, fate, and nature than either you or I would like to admit. I mean, there are obvious things you can do wrong (beat your kid, shame them, let them be Leafs fans) and obvious things you can do right. Like love them and feed them and hug them. In the words of Alli Worthington (who has five of these creatures, so she knows at least something of what she speaks) “When you feel like you aren’t doing a good enough job, ask yourself these things: Does my child feel secure? Does my child feel loved? Did my child go to sleep fed? Do I daily look in my child’s eyes and smile? Does my child get hugs everyday? If you are doing these things right, Mama, you are doing a wonderful job.”
So ease up on yourself. Read some books, talk to some friends, do what feels right – but ultimately, know that they are who they are, and all the [insert parenting technique here] in the world just might not change that.