Almost every day, I read about or speak to someone who has sage advice from a parenting manual.
The advice is never the same twice.
Your baby should be sleeping through the night, leave it to cry. You’re emotionally damaging your baby, don’t let it cry.
Your baby is too skinny, use formula. Your baby is obese, feed it less.
You’re not interacting with your baby enough, it will be developmentally delayed. You’re over-stimulating your baby, it won’t sleep.
Your child is too whiny, you’re mollycoddling it. You’re not letting your child cry, you’re damaging it emotionally.
Your child has too much screen time, you are effecting its behaviour. Your child is starting school, it should be able to use an iPad.
Your child doesn’t go outdoors enough, it will get ill. Your child goes outside in the rain, it will catch a cold.
You’re feeding your child sugar, it will become addicted. You’re denying your child treats, it will be socially excluded
In my humble opinion, such advice is as much use as a chocolate teapot – all of it.
And don’t get me started on the parenting blog – yes, this one for example.
Who am I to tell you how to look after your children?
Who am I to tell you to throw away the parenting books and wing it, using your parental instinct alone?
I genuinely believe the old adage that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
Many parenting books, newspaper articles and blog posts are rooted in very basic psychology or even pediatric medicine.
So is the amount of expertise contained between the covers of a book going to teach you to parent your child better?
Or, realistically would your child be happier and healthier if you just relaxed, chilled out and parented naturally, the way you feel is best?
After all, who knows your child better than you?
I speak as someone who is getting it all wrong. We’re late for everything. Neither of my children get enough individual attention from me.
Both children go to bed too late, and when they wake up in the morning I do my very best to ignore them so I can have another few minutes in bed.
At lunch time today, I couldn’t be bothered to go to the shop and get something healthy for lunch. So we ate a supermarket frozen pizza.
We’ve got two dogs, both of whom regularly knock the children over when they’re playing together.
We also have a cat who is plotting our demise.
I hate buggies so we haven’t got one. Last week, both my husband and I got knocked over by the dogs when we were carrying Lia.
I have a drink most evenings and often eat junk food. I’m still breastfeeding.
And no, I don’t read parenting books.
I know I’m getting it wrong, I know there are things I could be doing better.
I know that my family think I’m too strict on the girls. None of them approve of the fact I won’t use a buggy.
So do I care? Absolutely not.
You can add heartless to your list.
I’m doing my best for my family, I make mistakes and my children do too.
I’m not about to go away and dive into a parenting book to learn what time to put the children to bed, what to feed them and how to make sure they’re never ill.
I’m not about to look up any basic psychology to find out how my children will be emotionally damaged by my parenting techniques as they get older.
Occasionally, I am really interested in a topic so I do some research. Screen time is a prime example.
But as a general rule, I think that parenting books make excellent door stops and Daily Mail articles about better parenting are ideal for getting the barbecue started.
So please do let me know if there is a miracle cure for obnoxious three year olds or stroppy babies.
But until then, I’ll just be over here getting it all wrong. And having a great time in the process.