In the beginning of time there were a bunch of parents walking around with a warm and fuzzy notion that they were doing everything right by their kids. Until Tiger Mom came along and made the rest of us feel (even if just for one second) pretty darn lousy about all of it! We were raising mediocre kids, what were we thinking!
One of the best responses to the tiger mom I’ve come across is from elephant mom, who has written quite movingly about the real benefits of nurturing your children.
There is also a Sloth mom. She is “perfectly happy to sit on the couch, losing on Level 104 of Two Dots again, while her kids play by themselves”. I am really starting to like sloth mom!
I was convinced there had to be more, so five more minutes on Google brought up the Dolphin Mom , who urges you to NOT turn into a tiger. I have not read the entire book, but the parenting model is said to be “based on the intelligent, joyful, playful, highly social dolphin”.
I think any attempt to look past stereotypes is commendable. Which brings us to…Dolphin Dad !
Apparently there is even such a thing as a jelly fish parent, but I’ve been told it’s the worst kind. Whatever happens, remember that you do not want to be a jelly fish!
I don’t know which species I identify with. Currently, I am having a pretty rough time perfecting the art of being human mom. So I’d like to take a moment to congratulate and applaud all of you parents out there who are elbow deep in the muck and mess of parenting, who make mistakes (and occasionally even learn from them), who are doing the best they can in a completely imperfect, human way. Your parenting style is just that – it’s yours. It’s that private, unique, extraordinary language that you speak with your child, and I am sure it’s absolutely perfect!
Repeat to yourself, every day, the following “5 commandments for a human parent”, because it’s all 100% true!
1. “My children are well-fed, reasonably clean, healthy and happy. Nothing else matters.”
Just because they haven’t seen the inside of a vegetable in several days doesn’t mean they will grow up malnourished, have an under developed brain, develop an unhealthy relationship with food or anything even remotely dire.
2. “My child has practiced piano/trumpet/spelling bee/ hula hooping/ribbon tossing for 6 straight days, and we just missed day 7. I will not freak out and visualize my child’s future as one marked by failure and hopelessness”.
Whether they turn into Cello virtuosos or not, hopefully they are having fun with it right now.
3. “I made a mistake. I forgive myself and I will not wallow in weeks of pointless guilt”
For the first two months after my daughter was born, we washed her clothes in fabric softener.
We were so sleep deprived we didn’t even read the label on the bottle properly. We really thought we were using detergent! So the poor little thing wore dirty clothes that smelled wonderful for two whole months! That is my biggest “failure” story as a new parent, and I am really quite impressed that I didn’t screw up anything else. If this was the worst of it, then we were doing just fine!
4. “My child has created an entirely imperfect work of art, and it’s worth something”.
I don’t have the secret code to raising the most creative child, but I have noticed that I can crush my daughter’s spirit pretty easily by doing something completely innocuous (like throwing away the 751st version of a colored tooth pick) without asking her.
Your little one will bring home an insane amount of “project work” from day care or school. Some of it is just colored pencil dragged across a white paper. Storing every single thing will most likely add 4 boxes every month to the storage room. Is it worth it? I don’t know, depends on the size of your storage room! But I wonder if it’s worth a discussion at the very least – what do the pink lines mean? Was it from/for a friend? Is there any story behind this?
5. “At the end of the day, the only legitimate question I am allowed to ask myself self is this – is there at least a 50% chance that my child will grow up to be a decent, kind, content, thoughtful individual with an ounce of courage and a mild sense of humor?”