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Parenting is an instinct and other myths

March 2nd, 2009

Myths often have a bit of truth about them, and that’s why we often buy into them.

The problem with living with myths is that we end up frustrated with expectations that do not become reality. We beat ourselves up for not having a Martha Stewart house, or not having a HGTV landscaped garden, or not having a Victoria Secret body. The myth is that somehow our life is suppose to look like what we see on TV.

Here are my 3 myths of parenting to debunk:

1. Parenting is an instinct.

Shouldn’t we just KNOW what to do when our kids misbehave? Shouldn’t we NATURALLY know how to respond to tantrums?

No, I am convinced that good parenting is an acquired skill.

We might have some sort of survival instinct like “I think I should feed the baby at least a couple times a day.” But to know the best way to handle a child’s misbehavior, or to teach him to value education, or to get him to be responsible with money are skills we can learn.

Because good parenting is not an instinct, it also means we don’t parent perfectly. There will be mistakes, there’s a (sometimes slow) learning curve, and there are bad habits to overcome. I have to accept the fact that as a parent, I am learning again like a kid in kindergarten.

I’ve learned a lot from reading books and listening to radio programs such as Focus on the Family and Family Life.

Learning from other parents in the trenches a few steps ahead can give us ideas to deal with every day problems. Joining forums allows you to ask for advice for your particular dilemma.

2. If I tell them, and keep telling them, they will learn.

Everything comes instantly nowadays – no more waiting for film to develop, or internet to dial up, or news to be printed.

We might expect parenting to be quick and easy too. If I just tell my kids that going to sleep early will give them more energy the next day, they will surely go to bed by 9pm – NOT!

Then how about if we give our kids longer and more frequent lectures? If we keep telling them, they will eventually obey, won’t they?

Unfortunately, in this age where our kids are getting so much input from all every kind of media, we are just one of many voices, and most likely not the most compelling voice. My kids hear my voice so often that it can become background noise.

Be prepared that kids do not listen. Don’t get frustrated, don’t get mad, and don’t keep telling them again and again. Merely accept the fact that kids often don’t listen to us.

Here are some words to strike out of your vocabulary: “I’ve told you a thousand times…”, “Didn’t I just tell you to…”, “Weren’t you listening when I told you to…” These phrases show that we actually think our kids will listen. I am here to tell you, they don’t.

I’ve learned that parenting takes creativity. As I said above, get help and learn new ways to do things. Don’t rely only on telling as the primary means of communication.

3. Discovering THE method to good parenting is all I need to guarantee success.

Everyone says using a chore chart will bring up obedient children. I’ve written about using a timer that works wonders.

Even the most sound advice such as setting a good example, or spending time with the children are not THE ONE method to that will solve all problems.

I think parenting cannot be reduced to a system or a set of actions.

In search of blogs and books, we often want THE answer to turning around a rebellious teenager, or getting our child to do homework.

As I said above, parenting advice from others are necessary, however I don’t think there is ONE secret to good parenting. Everything we do, a little bit of the ‘right stuff’ each day, will add up to instilling good values into the life of our children.

If you don’t know that ONE secret method, you’re not missing anything. There isn’t one.

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  1. […] Parenting is an Instinct, They’ll Learn if I Keep Telling Them, and There is One Parenting Met… […]


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