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Every Parent's Grey Matter

Where's that remote?

Here’s the thing. I am so tired of the competition, the righteousness and the one-upmanship that goes on in the parenting arena. I am tired of hearing that you have to do ‘x’ if you want your child to be well-balanced; that if you do ‘y’, your child will end up a basket case.

I have worked in mental health for nearly twenty years, I have three kids of my own and I have interviewed hundreds of parents. All of this has led me to the conclusion that there is no right way to parent a child. Of course, there are absolute ‘no no’s’ and these boil down to common sense.

But what about the ‘grey’ areas? What about those choices in between the absolutes of right and wrong? To rock your baby to sleep or to let them cry? To switch on the TV for an hour so you can have a break or never to cave in to the square babysitter? To give them the occasional ‘bribe’ lollipop in the supermarket or to stand firm when your child is screaming loudly enough to pretend they don’t belong to you?

I say: do what feels right. Go with your instinct – not the mantras of others. While many mums and dads are balanced in their approach and supportive of one another, there are a few who hold so tightly to their beliefs that they feel no compunction in trying to convert us.

I say: stand your ground. You know what’s best for you and your family. If you have more than one child, you have probably discovered that they react differently to parenting styles and techniques because they are individual human beings.

That is why I refuse to subscribe to the ‘one size fits all’ dogma of parenting. For one thing, it doesn’t. Everyone is different; every family is different. Secondly, it patronises mothers and fathers who are doing what they think is right for their children and their family. When parents are scolded for their use of a particular style of parenting, they are demeaned in the process.

However you choose to parent, remember this: it is your choice; use your own grey matter to make parenting decisions, not Mrs Smith’s. Once you have made your choice (which may change as children grow and for different children in the family) stand firm in your belief and trust your instincts.

Now, where’s that remote control…?