If ya can’t change ’em . . .

May 11, 2011 at 11:34 pm Leave a comment

My philosophy on parenting can be summed up in one sentence:

You cannot change your child.

There, that’s it. You don’t have to read any more, feel free to leave a donation in the can at my feet as I sing kumbaya and strum my ukulele. . . what’s that? You want to know more?  Let me break it down for you:

Your child arrived as a separate person with his own personality and temperament (not to be confused with tempura-ment, a love of Japanese fried foods).   Maybe your daughter was scared of her hands from day one, or your son was a screamer.  Maybe you’re the parent of that youtube baby who giggles hysterically.  Whatever it is, your baby’s temperament is there from the start and there’s not much you can do about it.  (Unless the reason your daughter is scared of her hands is because you put her in clown mittens. . . that’s something you can fix.)

Maybe you think your son will one day love classical music and New Wave French cinema like you but instead he grows up to be a NASCAR fan who also makes those big ice sculptures with a chainsaw.   Or you try to change your princess toddler into a tomboy, dressing her in gender-neutral colors from day one and enrolling her in baby soccer, although rugby would be cool too, and she just turns her cleats into high heels and her jersey into a tutu.

Most parenting problems are caused by parents who believe they can change their kids versus kids who know the truth.   They battle over cleaning rooms, eating vegetables, foul language,  math homework.  The kids might toe the line in the short-run, but long term, all bets are off.  Bryan Caplan, an economist, says kids are “flexible plastic that responds to pressure, but returns to its original shape when the pressure is released.”

Sure, you can force your kids to speak in pig-latin (because learning a second language is so good for brain development) or only dress them in organic bamboo, but in the end they’ll turn out the same–they’ll turn out exactly as they were supposed to. 

So what good is parenting?

Families are a place where children can be loved and nurtured.  Your job is to provide that safe, caring environment.  Then you can spend the rest of your time getting to know your children and working on making your interactions as positive as they can be. . .this is the challenging part.  This is the part that you–and I!–will be working on forever.

This blog is here to give you support on that life-long journey.

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