Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I am not an expert...

I don't claim to be one and I don't play one on TV, but I do have common sense and a certain degree of practical experience that comes from raising 5 kids. I do not have a degree in psychology, only a Masters in Theology and a bunch of credits toward a Masters in Counseling which I will eventually finish..we moved to a new state and I have to get back in the swing, OK? :)

You know what I've learned from having 5 kids? I do not know everything about raising kids BECAUSE each one is different. Unique. an Individual. The same tactics, methods and yes, even bribes, are not effective with each child. I am not an expert and I will not claim my kids are perfect. They make mistakes and do foolish things and I shake my head and wonder where that came from. (It's all about being human and having free will.)

I very rarely, if ever give unsolicited advice regarding children or child rearing. Maybe once in a great while if I am talking to a close friend I will stick my little toe into that murky pool and risk it. If someone asks my opinion, I am as diplomatic as I can be.

Maybe, just maybe I should stick my neck out there more. Seriously.

What got me started? I was reading a popular parenting-type magazine and someone wrote asking whether their 5 yo was ready to see a movie in the theater. (If you're reading, I'm not trying to hurt your feelings but please take this little bit of wisdom into your heart and your head.)

Only you can know your child...the "expert" reading your note has no idea of your child's temperament or personality. They have no idea what type of movie or theater you're going to. YOU do! If you think little Johnny would enjoy the movie, wants to see the movie, can sit still, it is at a time that is appropriate for him to see it and you are fully prepared to eat the price of tickets should Johnny be disruptive and disturb others..then go. But you don't need an expert or little ol' me to tell you that. This is common sense.

And another thing...telling your child "NO" will not stunt their creativity or make them afraid to do new things. (Yes, I read this from another magazine "expert".) Sometimes those two little letters need to be put together and spoken to the little darlings because they must learn to understand the word. If you have a daughter, I'm sure you want her date to understand that word. If your child is facing peer pressure to try drugs, drink, smoke and other risky behaviors, I'm sure you want them to be comfortable with saying, and meaning the word "no".

Furthermore, before taking the advice of experts, find out where their expertise lies. I read some parenting books which I felt had terrific points. The author does a great deal of public speaking on child-focused topics. I read his bio looking for what his background was in..mental health, education? I found nothing so I emailed the author. The background..journalism. He is an expert at packaging his research in a digestible and interesting way... and this has qualified him to give thousands of people advice on the best way to raise their children. He's making buckets of money presenting you and me with research we could do ourselves. This does not mean I think educators and mental health professionals are more qualified, sometimes yes and sometimes no but not everybody who is writing a book is an expert in the way we may think. They are giving you their opinion of how the data works out. (According to a statistician I know, statistics are in the eye of the beholder.) Maybe they're giving you their opinion of how they think things should be. Whatever the case, it's not guaranteed to work or be appropriate with your child in every particular situation, just like not all medicines work well to treat the same illness on all people.

Love your kids. Teach them right from wrong. Use your common sense. Most importantly, pray. You probably won't mess them up..too much.

(But if you need to ask an expert whether bringing your toddler into a bar is a good idea, and I don't mean the restaurant with a bar..we need to have a sit-down. I'm not a teetotaller, but there are places children do not belong..a 21+ bar is one of them, also on the list the adult bookstore and the local exotic dancing establishment..go ahead call me judgemental.)


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