And then... I had Kids.
Parenting is hard. It involves managing so many priorities, and the stakes are high. One of the more annoying parts about parenting is the culture around it. Everyone thinks THEY know what YOU should do with your child. It tends to include an endless barrage of blog posts, articles, books, even full movements... all centered around the idea that parenting is some static practice that should function in the same way, regardless of the parent or child.
That very culture is the reason I cringed at the thought of writing a parenting blog. So, I’ve decided to do my part to combat it.
My hope is to share my experiences as a parent, not because I think you should do things the way that I do them, but because parenting is confusing, complicated, and constantly changing and I want you to know that you are not alone.
Before I had kids, I definitely told my friends all sorts of things. Like, "I’ll never yell at my kids" or "I don’t believe in bed times." I thought I had figured out the best way to be a parent. (SPOILER ALERT: Now that I'm actually a parent, I do yell AND my kids have bed times.) But then... I actually had kids. At first it was miserable. I was trying so hard to implement all of the plans I had made. And when they didn’t work, I looked for new plans. This lead to a lot of frustration and to me feeling like a shitty parent. Everywhere I looked there was a parent eager to give me well-meaning, but sometimes confusing (or at worst, insulting) advice.
I think my biggest takeaway from this time in my life is this: I had this parenting thing backwards. I was trying so hard to squeeze myself into a philosophy, but never stopped to consider me. Sure, never saying “no” to your kid works for some people, but was it authentic for me? Would it make sense given the set of skills that I've worked so hard to build? I realized that I needed to make my own parenting philosophy - something we should all do.
See, the thing is- I was trying to find the best parenting practices without realizing that I already had the tools to be a good parent. They were the same tools that I was using in my efforts to be a good person. My bitchiness became useful in being direct and honest with my children. My attention to detail made it much easier to keep a clean house while being a stay-at-home parent. My Queer identity became the vehicle through which I teach my kids about oppression and their roles in it. If the key to being a good parent was just finding all of the best practices and implementing them, then anyone could be a good parent. And we all know... that this just isn’t the case.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t research and read up about solutions to the parenting issues you’re dealing with. You absolutely should. What I am saying is that the things that make you awesome can often make you a good parent. Any given parenting style can be the best in theory, but ultimately YOU are the one that has to implement the style you choose- and in my experience, I implement things best when I do it with authenticity.