Parenting is a job. It’s a job that doesn’t come with a manual and, often, especially during children’s 0-5 years, a job that can be exhausting and challenging. Without extended family for support and guidance, it’s no wonder Moms and Dads look elsewhere for parenting advice. Parenting isn’t something everyone just knows how to do.
Pediatricians Offer Parenting Advice…
Parents of my Mom’s generation looked to Dr Spock for parenting advice. His book, The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care, was seen as the how-to manual. By the time I became a parent, another doctor was offering sage advice. Pediatrician T Berry Brazelton connected with parents via his many books. He also had a very informative show “What Every Baby Knows.” Dr. Brazelton recognized infants’ personalities, their temperaments and promoted a child-centered style* of parenting.
Everybody’s Offering Parenting Advice…
Fast forward to the Digital Age. We have numerous Mommy blogs and parenting websites espousing all types of parenting strategies. In theory, you’d think every parent would have, at their fingertips, the latest, most up-to-date, backed-up-with-research parenting techniques. So I was quite surprised reading a parenting questing sent in to Ask Amy. **
Identified as ‘Frazzled Shopper’ the writer’s main complaint centered on not getting the family grocery shopping done. She had 2 sons, aged 5 and 3, as well as a husband. Her husband apparently worked a lot. The problem? Her 2nd born son wouldn’t cooperate during the shopping trips. He’d scream, kick, and even bite if Mom put him in the cart. The situation wasn’t any better if she let him out of the cart. He’d run away and hide from Mom. Amy deferred the answer to Claire Zulkey. Ms Zulkey is a journalist, mother of 2 and author of a parenting newsletter.
Do you see anything related to child development in her credentials? No, neither do I. I’m sure she’s a very experienced writer. Her niche, or schtick, is writing entertaining stories about motherhood and making family-life struggles relatable.
The Blogger’s Advice…
So her advice, then, given in order of importance I guess:
1. Get out of shopping with the kids, or at least with the youngest by:
——–1. ordering online OR
———2. hiring a babysitter
—–b. Having her husband do it on his way home from work
—–c. Swapping errands time with a friend
2. Go shopping earlier in the day. This is beneficial because
—–a. Kids haven’t started to have their ‘meltdowns’ yet
—–b. There are less distractions in stores
3. Do whatever is necessary!
—–c. Electronic devices–she notes these should only come out at the store.
Ms Zulkey cautions to mete out treats carefully; to ration them so they last. BUT ‘if parents are in a really bad way’ they should head straight to the snack aisle. She ends with a “Hang in there Mom. You’re not alone.”
WOW! Giving out advice like that, I’m sure ‘Mom’ isn’t alone! Ms Zulkey’s
Do whatever is necessary
recommendation plus her assumption ‘Mom’ isn’t able to cope with her children aren’t helpful. It will only reinforce any negative behavior from her children!
I believe children want to please; they want to do what they’ve been asked to do.
When children don’t there’s usually some reason for their resulting behavior.
●What was going on at home before heading off for the store?
●Was shopping time too close to lunch and/or nap time?
●Before being asked to get into the car was there enough heads-up time given?
●Was there a choice offered of being in the cart or walking?
Young children need a predictable environment with realistic, parental expectations. Additionally, some children’s temperaments require more lead-in and prep time to transition from one setting to the next. That may require more work for their parents initially. But that’s what parenting’s about right? Surely it’s what compassionate parenting is all about.
A Different Approach…
Why didn’t it ever occur to Ms Zulkey to suggest Mom talk with her child? Talking together at home when her son is well-rested, fed and calm? Explaining to her son:
•What errands need to be done for the family;
•Where they’ll be going; and
•How long they’d be gone
would be helpful in understanding what’s going on
Engaging her son by asking him to:
•Describe some of things they could see or
•Reminding him he could (big)helper by putting items in the cart. This way he’d feel part of the experience and, more importantly, useful!
Good Parents Are Like CEOs…
Parenting is a job. Parents are the CEOs. The best CEOs understand they get the most out of their employees when:
● they’re respectful of each individual
● understanding of each individual’s needs
● express clear expectations or goals
● have good communication skills and
● mentor or teach effectively.
Incorporate these techniques into your parenting style. It’s no parenting manual, but they can go a long way in making your day-to-day Life run much smoother.
And sometimes, a child IS too hungry, tired, overstimulated or sick. Those are the times your needs go on the back burner. The best thing for all concerned is for you to remain calm; pick your kiddo up and go home. Tomorrow is another day–always.
Yours in Play!
*NO Helicopters In Child-centered Parenting…
NOTE: Do not confuse child-centered parenting with helicopter parenting. I think helicopter parenting would better be described as child-fearing vs child-centered. Helicopter parents FEAR their child may:
●make a mistake
●not make a good impression or some other perceived shortcoming
These parents inserts themselves. IMHO, it is not because they’re trying to ‘protect’ their child, but rather:
·protect their pride,
because they do not believe in their parenting abilities, or worse, their child’s capabilities.
**Ask Amy is the columnist that took over for Dear Abby.