Parenting advice, welcome or not, comes from all sides. Here are three informative, welcome perspectives – one medical, one humorous, one spiritual – from modern writers.
Medical perspective: Pediatrician Alanna Levine’s new book, “Raising a Self-Reliant Child” (Ten Speed Press, 2013), teaches parents to step back. Micromanagement keeps young children from the self-development that comes naturally from learning and doing on one’s own, she says. A mother of two, Levine says independent play nurtures imaginative thinking, role-playing, logic, critical thinking, communication, problem-solving and cooperation with others (both children and adults).
In the fast-paced society we live in, knowing how to fill downtime is an important skill for kids to learn, Levine writes. Strike a balance between on-the-go and unstructured time to ensure your kids have plenty of free play where they come up with their own ideas.
Self-soothing – such as with a stuffed lovey – is another important life skill, Levine says, that can help your child become more self-sufficient.
“Parents can be present as guides,” says Levine, “but children need to do the work, make the mistakes, and learn from them to become productive adults.”
Humorous perspective, also known as “laugh or else you will cry:” Pick up Amber Dusick’s hilarious “Parenting: Illustrated With Crappy Pictures” (Harlequin, 2013). Says Dusick:
• Children go through a “diaper-stuffing stage” where “nearly every diaper change contains a hidden treasure. Sometimes it is just a handful of sand. Or a sticker. Or a small toy.” Or something good: the lost remote.
• No matter how tightly you seal that imaginary antimicrobial bubble around your kids, they’ll still get sick – say, during a well-check visit to the doctor, where there are sick kids, or a trip to an indoor playground where germs are bouncing around everywhere.
• “Changing a diaper in an airplane bathroom is like changing a diaper inside an empty refrigerator that a drunk person is pushing around on a dolly.”
Other “laws of parenting” from Dusick, a mother of two sons:
• “The more excited you think they’ll be about a gift, the more they’ll only play with the box.”
• “The colder it is, the more they will not put on a sweater.”
• “The closing of a bathroom door causes end-of-the-world panic.”
• “The more things you are carrying, the more desperately they will require being picked up.”
• “When you sneak to the pantry to eat chocolate, you will get caught.”
Spiritual perspective: Parenting can be exhausting, says Sharon Glasgow, who writes for Proverbs 31 Ministries and has five almost-grown daughters. Finding the energy and patience to discipline your kids can feel overwhelming, but it’s necessary. “The discipline part was a lot of work,” Glasgow says, “and one thing remained constant whether they were four or 14 – discipline always took time, wisdom, discernment and love.”
It would have been easier, she writes in an email to Ministries subscribers, to just let slide a lie that one of her daughters told at age 4. The fib came on a Sunday morning, and Glasgow was going to be her Sunday School teacher that day. She decided to call in a sub and have her daughter sit down and think about the choice she had made.
“Finally, she admitted her lie with a sincere heart and said, ‘I’m sorry.’ We hugged and to this day I’ve never heard her say another lie,” Glasgow says.
Discipline is not fun for those receiving it nor for those administering it, she writes. But investing time and energy into it will yield good fruit in our children’s lives.
Betsy Flagler, a journalist based in Davidson, N.C., is a mother and preschool teacher. If you have tips or questions, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Parent to Parent at (704) 236-9510.