There are no tips to parenting that will make your job easier. The most important thing you must do as a parent is enjoy being with your children. Every other parenting style or passing fad will at best be accidentally positive, and at the worst, destructive on some level.
Even if you are a very good parent you are going to have random luck, genetics and your own weak personality in the mix, making the outcome an absolute unknown.
A practiced parent knows this and does not hold up their own parenting as the golden standard, probably somewhat fearful that their hubris may anger the Parenting God.
I think that after almost 19 years of parenting I can honestly say that the most irritating people on earth are righteous parents. But fortunately, now that I am an old mother, sometimes mistaken for a grandmother out here on the east coast, I don’t have to attend many coffee klatches where young mothers fuss and worry and pass around advice.
If a fresh faced parent asks for advice from the old crone I just say, “Don’t worry about this particular behavior of your child, it will change in three months to something new to worry about.”
Most parenting decisions are dependent on the parent’s personality. You may push piano lessons because it is important to you, but a well-loved child is not crippled by piano lessons.
And well -loved children will survive either the lack of breast feeding or on-demand breast feeding for years, and this same well-loved child will survive being trained to sleep in their own bed, or sleeping with their parents until they are ready to move into their own bed.
Also, I think that the idea of ‘consistency’ in parenting is a silly construct. When you are thinking about how to manipulate your children to obey you, remind yourself that they are not dogs. When I hear a parent droning on about the importance of consistency I have to bite my tongue.
Firstly, you love this person and have a relationship with them that will be long term if you don’t annoy them too much. So if they explain, in their adorable three year old lisp, why you should relent on one of your ridiculous rules, you should listen to them.
And most importantly, no matter what set of rules you create or environment of discipline you place on that child, they will be watching you and your role is to model good-ish behavior.
If you eat sensibly, or swear and throw things when you mad, they will have that behavior in their unconscious and it will come out to haunt them later when they find themselves repeating what you did, good or bad.
And when I say ‘enjoy’ your children this does mean that there must be some behavior modification. For example, in our house there is no whining, at all, and no spitting or hitting, but everything else is a free for all. And how do I get them to stop doing what I don’t like? I frown ferociously and say” Don’t whine.”
That’s it. That is all the parenting you need to know. But I am not out of the woods, by a long shot, with a seven-year-old daughter who is home schooling this year, and a 13-year-old son who is heading off on the early bus to the closest rural high school, and a 19 year old heading into her second year of college.
I may argue that parenting advice is fairly useless, but that does not mean I don’t have lots of opinions. I can mix it up with some strongly felt views about health and immunization or literacy and the importance of ‘reading aloud’, but those topics are for another day.