Friday, June 28, 2013

Why You Shouldn't Edit Yourself

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Like so many in my circle, I'm a conscientious parent. I do my best to keep informed about parenting. I read up on homework studies (and homework, it turns out, is a pretty pointless exercise perpetuated by parental pressure, by the way). I keep abreast of recommendations by educators who say that play and recess are essential components of learning. I even educate myself about ideas other parents have on child rearing, and as you might expect, it turns out there are many opinions out there. In the midst of this information bonanza, there's one thing that raises my hackles.

When I see posts on what you should or shouldn't say to your child, feelings of exasperation inevitably arise within me:
  • Six Ways to Praise Without Saying "Good Job"

  • Why You Shouldn't Tell Your Daughter She's Beautiful

  • How to Say No Without Saying No

Isn't being a parent confusing enough? Now we have to self-monitor our otherwise natural interactions with our children? Edit every word that escapes our lips? Enough, I say! I refuse to be pressured into limiting my own free speech. I will say "good job" to my preschooler when it seems appropriate (even if it's every day). I will tell my daughter that she's smart and strong and tenacious, but I will also tell her how beautiful she is, because she is! And I will say no. A lot. Because my children, like all children, push boundaries and need to know their limits, and let's face it: Sometimes "no" is the quickest way to communicate.

New ideas are what keep us evolving as parents, so is there value to these posts that shame us for using words that spring from love? The authors seem well intended. They're only trying to help us become better parents, but I think we need to trust ourselves more as parents. Our instincts are a powerful and undervalued tool! We are a thoughtful and loving bunch, so how can our well meaning words be so bad? We should feel empowered to use praise at will and set limits without having to hire a speech writer.

So I don't know about you, but I'm standing by my own instincts. They've served me well so far. I have two beautiful children who (usually) stop when I say no and (almost) always do a very good job.