It was in a conversation with my own counsellor that the idea popped into my head, that sometimes you can definitely know too much.
I’ve learnt a lot on my degree and in my work with the Place2Be, both in the training and the hands on work with children, but sometimes I’m struck that the knowledge that I hold can also become a rod to beat myself with.
It can feel like a full time job trying to constantly do the best I can for my girls, being careful about my words and behaviour knowing what impact that can have.
I screw up, a lot, I’m human, its what we do, but those girls are loved, and I really hope they know that in their heart.
But in knowing all we do about parenting, is it really actually helping to raise children with better self esteem, and making for better relationships?
In all truth I’m not sure it is
Our parents (if you are anywhere near as old as me) brought us up in an age where bugger all was known about many of things we know so much now, parenting, attachment, bonding, self esteem and the list can literally go on and on
They did what came naturally, they brought up their children without (many) self books, websites, forums, professionals, relying on their own inner voice and those especially close to them, siblings and parents to pass down knowledge of child rearing.
I was listening to the counsellor relaying a conversation she had had with a prolific psychotherapist who said that a child shouldn’t be praised for having a ‘good/pretty/nice’ picture only praised for their effort in working on it, as the ‘good’ message passed the child a condition of things needing to be pretty/nice to please someone, and I just thought really? is that where we are at? moderating praise with children and being careful about whether that praise is helpful or otherwise?
This psychotherapist actually went into his child’s nursery and asked them to stop praising her work and the only praise she should receive was for effort – they apparently looked at him as though he had fallen from a different planet – as I think many of us would
I’ve been struck during the writing of a dissertation and in conversations with my counsellor that there are many circumstances where I wish I could unknow what I do
The way I’m raising my girls now is virtually unrecognisable from before I started training, which may be helpful, but what about what went before? am I just to pretend that my parenting didn’t back then run completely contrary to current thinking? Nothing so dreadful but a cumulative effect of small things… those routines I was so eager to implement, schedules I wanted to stick to, babies that did what the book said, all those good girl, bad girl, naughty girl labels, bed wetting tantrums and they were just mine, looking back I did the best I could with what I had and back then that wasn’t much, depression and anxiety clouding my thoughts and keeping my temper persistently short.
In SO many ways I wish I could have known what I know now, back when my babies were born, but would I just have been more neurotic if I had.. more aware of every single screw up… who can say?
In many ways I crave being able to raise my girls in the way they did in the 50′s and 60′s pretty much with instinct, but then things were so different back then, most women didn’t work and their children were their sole reason for being, today’s distractions and pressures are immense, working/raising families/studying/keeping a home, and trying to make all of it balance out together.
Will we one day look back and laugh at us all trying so very hard to master the art of parenting when all we actually needed was the confidence that our best really was good enough?