"Have you found any of your parenting practices "outdated" due to new research and if so, has it been hard to change/modify your parenting methods?"
We all want to be the best parents possible.
Before my son was born, I had lofty goals. I knew instinctively that he was going to be his own person, with his own thoughts, feelings, ideas, beliefs, and dreams. My job was to respect that, nurture it, and help him grow into the man he wanted to be.
That's not exactly a roadmap though, is it?
I started where my parents did, in some ways. The biggest being a belief in spanking. If it was god enough for them, it was good enough for me. Something I no longer believe in at all.
After Piper was born, and she was a handful in a way that Reagan never had been, I picked up the worst parenting book, possibly in the entire history of parenting books. It was called To Train Up A Child, and you can click on the title of it to see my posts about how I fell into that madness, and why I had to get out.
Following the advice in TTUAC and it's follow up books No Greater Joy Volumes I & II as they were written, would have made me, no joke, a child abuser. To raise Godly children, they taught, you must show no mercy, and stop spanking only when your child has submitted to your authority completely.
This was never who I wanted to be! I wanted to be someone who bent them toward positive things, not someone who broke them. I wanted us to be a team, working together for our common good. I'm still deeply ashamed that I ever, however briefly, tried to use these books. I was completely taken in by his authoritative writing style, and somehow shut off my brain.
That's something I plan to not make a habit of.
When I realized that I had to stop parenting this way, I sat my kids down (Piper was just a toddler) and apologized. I told them we were chucking that method and never going back. And I have spent the years since, speaking out against the books, and their authors, whenever possible.
There are smaller things that have changed too.
When Reagan was born, they taught that side sleeping for infants was as good as back sleeping (it isn't). They thought that bumper pads were safe in cribs (they're not). They thought you should turn them front facing in their car seat at a year old (you shouldn't).
These things we just adapted to.
But the big things, they take conversation. They take honesty and an ability to apologize. They take understanding for yourself as a human being who may get it wrong, and they take a willingness to do better.
Children are very forgiving and understanding of parents who are genuinely trying to do the right thing, and be the best parents possible. Let me tell you, I'm incredibly grateful for that.
The best teacher you can possibly have, is your child. Watch them. Get behind their eyes. What do they need? What are they learning? How do they feel? I think if we parent our kids from a place of respect, both for them as people, and for our need to have boundaries and order, we will largely be okay, even as the experts still learn and evolve their thinking on the "best" parenting practices.
Trust yourself, trust your kids. Never trust anyone who says they have all the answers and knows exactly what you should do. They might be right, but if they are, their ideas will stand up to scrutiny. And we owe it to our kids to question them.
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