See, there are two things that most people think they do really well: Driving and parenting. (For the child-free, substitute dog training for either one).
Even with all my self-doubt, I've got some pretty definite ideas on parenting. So ever since I first wanted to be a mom, which was a hell of a long time ago, I've been reading and forming my own ideas about the whole thing. I learned to value, if not always agree with, some wonderful experts like William Sears, Penelope Leach, and T. Berry Brazelton.
But other "experts" struck me as mean-spirited and narrow. Take John Rosemond, for example: He tells people to forget all this crap about self-esteem. No coddling allowed, for God's sake! Spare the rod and spoil the child! Yeah!! Yeah!!
I decided a long time ago that John Rosemond is
Well, so far, my kid is doing just fine, thank you very much. Now that she's all grown up and hasn't murdered anybody yet, I'm feeling somewhat vindicated. So behold, for whatever it's worth, here's my take on being a mom:
Her dad and I decided before she was born that our job as her parents was simple: love her, let her be who she is, and enjoy her. That was our mantra, our anchor throughout her childhood, and it proved to be steadfast indeed.
We purposely had just one kid. You see, my mom once told me that the only good reason to have a kid is because you believe you have something special to offer her. For us, that meant having just one. Which, as it turned out, suited her just fine.
We practiced "attachment parenting." We didn't let our kid "cry it out," and in fact, she slept with us part-time for the first year or so.
I decided from the first that I would never, ever spank or slap my kid, and I never did -- not even if she did something dangerous. I just took it out of my toolbox. I also was pretty successful at avoiding verbal abuse. I never called my kid a spoiled brat, or dummy, or a little monster, or fat, or skinny, or any other potentially hurtful name. And I never threatened to leave her behind if she didn't hurry up. Not even kiddingly. Because, you know, to a three-year-old, that's just not terribly funny.
I avoided ever saying to my daughter, "What will people think?" Any worries I had about other people's opinions were my problem, not hers. Hence, creatively mismatched clothing.
I learned to distinguish between her stuff and my stuff. Making sure she buckles up? My stuff. Cleaning her plate? Her stuff. Making her go to her room and stay there after at 9 p.m.? My stuff. But actually falling asleep before midnight? Her stuff. Making sure she pees before we get on the road? Ha! I thought that was my stuff but I was wrong!
Oh, and while we're on the subject of toilet training, I didn't sweat it. I figured she was bound to be toilet trained by the time she left for college.
And so she is.