I made a post on face book the other day alluding to the gigantic North American industry, known as the parenting industry. I call it the problem with parenting today. I bet you didn’t think of parenting as an industry but it is and it’s huge. As I alluded to in my post though, it’s not only enormous but for the large part, it’s also totally unnecessary.
You’re probably asking yourself how I can possibly criticize an industry when I am so blatantly a part of it doing what I do, solving children’s behaviour issues like picky eating and multiple temper tantrums. I agree, yet I confess I’m a rebel and I harbour great frustration at what this industry is inadvertently doing to parents. You see parents are confused and I don’t blame them. What used to be simple has been (largely for profit), made in to something that is horribly complex. Of course this wasn’t for the large part purposeful, nor was it anyone’s particular fault. It just grew organically like a cancer cell on steroids and there’s a name for it. It’s called complexity.
Remember the KISS principle
You see years ago, back when your great great grandma was young sitting on her porch, parenting was pretty easy and frankly, not given a lot of thought. Put the food out and the clothes, provide leadership, love and cuddles and some work and bingo, out came decent people at the other end. There were no experts, no fancy baby products, a few simple toys and no time to navel gaze as the harvest needed bringing in.
Contrast that to today and we’ve been liberated. With machines to do the work for us we’ve been freed to do more exciting things with our lives. We can get involved with multiple different careers that offer a incredible array of choice. 100 years ago there were doctors. Now there are paediatricians, oncologists, ophthalmologists and more. We can spend more time getting educated and that’s exactly what we’ve done. All of that is important and hardly something we’d want to reverse, but with our education and our freed up time, something has happened when it comes to bringing up the kids. You see, parenting has gone from something natural that we barely thought about, to being approached from a ‘scientific’ point of view. Ok, isn’t that better though? I mean surely the more we know, the more we can do what’s best for our kids.
Instinct has got lost
Yes and no. The more we read and study, the less we rely on instinct and the more lost we seem to get. Take the world of choice for instance. Research shows that we are actually far happier with less choice. Increase the levels of choice and we don’t get any happier. In fact, we get the opposite, more confused and ultimately more miserable. Complexity of course has bought with it endless choice. Put the word parenting in to google and you get 210,000,000 results. In the child care industry there are endless amounts of books, magazines, baby products and…advice.
And that’s where I come in. If you have a whole lot of people all hawking parenting advice, the only way one stands out from another is for each one to sound or be a little bit different. Makes sense from a business perspective but no sense at all from a problem solving perspective.
You only want to do this….once
That’s why I’ve said no repeatedly to offering classes on parenting that focus on one aspect of parenting at at time. Why? Because everything that happens with your children from a difficult behaviour perspective is linked and you can’t divvy it up. Picky eating is not about picky eating. Sleeping is not about sleeping, chronic potty training issues have nothing to do with the potty and herein lies the problem. Divvy parenting up in to subject areas and all you get is customers who keep coming back because their problem never goes away. A great way to make money but not that great at making a difference. I should point out though, that the people that offer such courses are doing it out of a real sense of caring and no doubt for all the right reasons. Having said that, the longer parenting is seen in it’s currently complex light, the more confusing and ultimately useless the information becomes.
The parenting business is an anathema to me. I’m part of it because that’s the milieu in which I must operate, but I don’t like it. I’m not interested in complexity. We don’t have to apply the scientific method to parenting and we haven’t for millennia. We just have to be parents. Inside us we have instincts 60,000 plus years in the making. We simply have to re-discover them, tune out the extraneous noise and listen. For additional parenting help, please press here.