Why You’re a Bad Parent

Parenting is hard work. And with so many “how to” books and unwanted advice out there, it’s hard to know what to listen to. All of us who are parents have experienced The Judgement. It comes from books. It comes from complete strangers. And it comes from friends. You know what I’m talking about. The look or paragraph that says “if you do this, you must be a bad parent.”

I have a confession to make. My husband and I feed my two-year-old son M & Ms to get him to sit on the potty. We let him watch Dora the Explorer far longer than we should. We let him have popcorn for breakfast. Occasionally he sleeps in our bed. Sometimes if he’s throwing a tantrum in a store, we buy him what he wants.

Will he turn into a hardened criminal? I doubt it. He seems to be a pretty good kid despite our erratic parenting behavior.

I say we take a stand as parents to do whatever we need to to raise our children. “Bad parenting” glares from complete strangers should be punishable by a fine. How can anyone but you know how to raise your own children??

The subject of parenting has been overscrutinized for centuries. I think we’ve run out of new information.

Superiority Complex
Now magazines are discussing the negative impact over-praising your child will have. Telling him he’s wonderful or doing a good job too often can give him a false image of himself, and lead to narcissism. And we know we already have an overabundance of confident people in the world!

Gimme Gimme
Rewarding your child for good behavior only leads him to expect reward and that doesn’t motivate him to pick up his room or sit on the potty for the pure good of doing so. As if a toddler can see beyond his own wants and needs.

What’s Wrong with Her??
If she’s not potty trained by the time she’s four (or reading by the time she’s two), something must be wrong with her. Please. Think about it. You move to another country where you don’t speak the language. You struggle to communicate with people who just look at you with sympathy. It’s all you can do to pick up a few key phrases, and then suddenly they want you to learn how to tap dance. Right now. How would you react? You’d probably lay down and throw a tantrum too.

The Parent Race
I despise the way we all secretly compete with one another. How, if another kid younger than mine is reading letters, I think my super-smart kid should be writing stories. How if I tell another parent of a milestone I’m particularly proud of, I see that familiar look in her eyes, and a week later, her child has a potty and is ready to outshine us. Why can’t we join forces in this race? Can’t we congratulate one another for surviving another day of judging looks and talk show experts pummeling us with their professional advice?

I’m setting you free. Raise your children the way that works. Feel no guilt when they’ve only eaten yellow-colored food for two days. Smile and send them to school with stained clothes. They will live through it. Did you hear that? They will be ok.

Now excuse me. I have to prepare my son’s application to Harvard.

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