Our Kids Are Great In Spite Of Us, Not Because Of Us

shutterstock_107371391__1393525470_142.196.156.251Have you ever stopped to consider that maybe our kids are great in spite of, not because of us?

I give people my opinion about all things parenting for a living, yet I can effectively say that I have no idea what I’m doing. Every time someone mentions a parenting style I think, “oh shut the eff up. It’s all luck.” Jesus Christ people, can’t you see that it’s all dumb luck?

Well, not all of it. But if you’re caring for your children and feeding, loving, clothing, and talking to them –  you’re probably doing okay. We’re probably all doing okay. I think we can agree that parents who devote any time at all in their days to reading and responding to parenting articles online are probably decent parents, right? At least we’re thinking about this stuff and wondering if we are doing it right – that says something, doesn’t it? Does being concerned that you aren’t totally effing up your kids count for anything? I think so.

I’m thinking about this because of an article I wrote the other day about attachment parenting. I’m including parents who practice attachment parenting in the group with the rest of us who are probably doing a stellar parenting job. Clearly they care a lot about their kids and spend A LOT of time thinking about all of their parenting decisions. The reason I poke fun at them so much is because I have a hard time understanding parents who think every little move they make is really transforming their child into some super version of a human, they wouldn’t otherwise be had they not been held all day. Or had they slept in a crib instead of a family bed. Or been fed formula instead of breast milk. Or pushed around in a stroller instead of worn on their mother’s back.

I’d like to argue that we’re actually moving away from the true potential of humans when we hypothesize that they all need very specific conditions to thrive. Here are the conditions they need; security, safety, love, food, water, speaking. Is the way that we deliver that to them really that important?

That’s why I’m done with “parenting styles.” Well, I’m not done making fun of them of course – because I need to get paid for doing something. But I’m done actually believing for one second that anyone really has a formula for doing it better than anyone else. Let’s give our kids some credit and realize that more often than not they are great in spite of us, not because of us.

(photo: tommaso lizzul/ shutterstock)

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    • Megan Zander

      Yes!!!!!! I get frustrated with the whole ” you’ll mess up your kids it you don’t parent THIS way ” concept. My biological father is a domestic abusing drug addict who told me at 12 that the only thing I would be good for obscene sexual acts ( though he didn’t say it so politely) in reality I never did drugs, never smoked and managed to graduate both college and law school without getting knocked up. Sure, my awesome mom and step dad had something to do with it, but I’d like to think that part of it was my doing. People overcome truly bad parenting all the time, no one would ever attribute their success to how they were raised.

    • Guest

      It is just funny all these parenting concepts when the majority of the people I know are just winging it. They had oopsy babies or just one day decided to have kids (its never the plan ahead, prep, and dream of having babies people like me) and didn’t put a whole helluva lot of thought into it. They just do what they think is best and go from there. Maybe one day when I have children I’ll find these groups of people who ponder if family beds, wearing a baby, or strollers are ok or not.

    • rrlo

      That attachment parenting article attracted quite the “discussion”. It started out as healthy, fun debate and slowly veered into crazy town territory!

    • rrlo

      It is all about the parents and the child’s temperament and personality. Some parents and kids gel really well – and everything is relatively easy. Others don’t and everything is relatively harder.
      Any parenting style that fights against the natural tendency of the parents or the child will inevitably end up being more stressful.

    • Jell

      Growing up in an extended family full of large sibling sets (think 6-7 kids to a parent) this is much more noticable. Even accounting for differences in the times, the dynamic between older and younger children and what-not 7 kids parented by the same people will turn out differently from one another in unexpected ways. My spouse’s parents (who are my personal “good parent” role models) ended up with such extreme contrasts in the children they produced that if they didn’t all look alike I’d swear they were the product of different households.
      I have a self-depreciating sense of humor about the way my sibling and I were raised. To say we didn’t mesh with our parents’ style is an understatement. I like to joke that I was the kid they deserved and he was the one they would like to take credit for but a child that easy and good-natured clearly came down on a silver platter from heaven.

    • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

      My aunt told me when I was pregnant, “Our children grow up despite us.”
      There are many roads to Rome. Take a path, alternate at your own discretion, include the necessities like food, love and boundaries, and arrive at Adult Child with what is likely a reasonably functional human being.

    • Kelly

      I pretty much agree with you.

      I think parenting does have a big impact on how a child’s development. But not as much as so many seem to think. If we were doomed to be the people our parents raised us to be then I’d be a violent drug addict/alcoholic and I’d probably be in prison. Instead I’m a healthy, law abiding individual who loves my family.

      I do admit I cringe when people say crap about how some kid doesn’t have a chance in life because he or she has bad parents. It’s not true. I know wonderful human beings who came from dysfunctional, abusive homes and I know total shitbirds who came from wonderful loving homes.

      A lot of it really is just luck.

    • Angela

      I agree with a lot of this but I will say this. From day one as a mom I tried to do what was best for my son but he really struggled with aggression and emotional regulation. When he was 4 he was kicked out of his preschool class for bullying. I tried so many different techniques (time outs, sticker charts, revoking privileges, praise, logical consequences, and even spanking in a few moments of desperation). None of it seemed to get through to him though. Then I tried a form of attachment parenting and something finally started to click. Within a few months he was showing progress and over the past year and a half he’s absolutely blossomed. This year his teacher tells me how helpful and kind he is, that the his peers look up to and follow him. I’ve noticed this transformation at home too. He’s not a perfect kid obviously but he is happy and thriving which just wasn’t the case before.

      Anyway, this isn’t to say there’s only one right way to parent. Also I believe that some kids are much more flexible than others. I think there’s a lot of kids who will do well in practically any loving and reasonably stable environment while others (like my son) who have much more specific needs. What I am saying though is that for our family at least that parenting style does make a difference.

    • K.

      Parenting styles are for YOU, not your kids.

      For every type of neurosis, there is a parenting book to slap a nicer label onto it and describe it as an asset. Really!–it amuses me that people don’t seem to realize this (so many think that it’s really about their kids’ well-being, rather than reassuring themselves), but then again, it is at least a productive delusion.

      For example, I know that most of attachment parenting is just not for me. I’d find it controlling and it’d make me anxious. However, a couple of my friends believe in it and that’s because it makes them feel confident and impactful as parents. That’s not to say that any of us are inferior parents or that AP is a superior or inferior technique–it’s to say that the use-value of AP (or any other parenting style) is premised on who you are as the practicing parent.

      In other words, a good parent is a happy parent. So the parenting style that is ‘best’ has less to do with the kid and more to do with whichever one makes sense to YOU–ie, makes YOU, the parent, happy.