There are many things that we learn through age and experience. As they say, hind sight is 20/20, but it has been through my role of Nana/grandparent that my eyes have been opened the widest and the mental light bulb has flashed with numerous “Aha” moments. I became a mother at the age of 20 and again at 21. I mothered on the continuum of believing, if children are wet…change them…hungry…feed them…cold…clothe them and in between sing and rock and love them. So that is how my two daughters survived childhood. I didn’t have magazines, books, television or radio shows telling me that I would warp my child if I didn’t prescribe to a certain method of child rearing. I talked to my children but did not debate with my two year old on the issue of “why it was not safe to run into the road.” If “NO and STOP!” did not work, a swat to the behind did stop them in their tracks. Today, many would see that as cruel and demeaning to a child and yet the average two year old does not comprehend the concept that the big semi that is approaching will flatten them like a pancake. So life went on and I parented on what I thought was a common sense approach. Talk to them, answer their questions, know who their friends are and set the rules. I didn’t live in a fantasy world believing that my rules would never be broken, because they were, but I didn’t believe that parenting was an activity that required charts, methods and debate. If what I was doing didn’t work, then I tried something else.
As the years went by and my girls became mothers themselves, I became a Nana and that was glorious, and yet nothing really changed about how I dealt with my grandchildren except that as with most grandparents, grandchildren always seem to be elevated to a level that is a notch above your own. It was at this point that I saw how bombarded with “parenting” this generation had become. Books, blogs, programs, seminars, classes, meetings and the list goes on and on. Yes, there is value in many of these things, but what I find the scariest is the fact that many parents are robbed of using their own common sense to figure out what is best for their child without dealing with the scorn and judgement of others who prescribe to a certain “parenting” philosophy. For every book that says method A is the way to go, there is another that claims that method B is the one recommended by the “experts.” The problem with all of these experts, studies and rigorous methods is that the child is often caught in the middle of whatever method is being prescribed and drowns in a sea of parenting information.
Perhaps it is time that we put common sense, love, attention and guidance front and center with each child that comes into our lives. A child is just a smaller version of what we once were and our needs are all pretty much the same. We all want to know that we are loved, we all want our physical needs met and we all want someone to hear what we have to say. I firmly believe if we parent, grandparent, teach and support with these things front and center…the rest will fall into place and the books, classes, and sea of information will find it’s proper and useful place.