I made a post on Facebook 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 most 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 transformed (largely for profit) into something that is horribly complex. Of course, this wasn’t done on purpose, and it wasn’t anyone’s 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.
Years ago, when your great-great grandmother was young and sitting on her porch, parenting was simple and, to be honest, not given much thought. Put out the food and clothes, provide leadership, love and cuddles, and some work, and bingo, decent people appeared 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 an incredible array of choices. 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 this is significant and unlikely to change, but something has changed in terms of child rearing as a result of our education and increased free time.
The problem with parenting today is that it has gone from being something natural that we barely thought about to being approached from a “scientific” point of view. Okay, but isn’t that better? I mean, surely, the more we know, the more we can do what’s best for our kids.
The problem with parenting today: Our 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 confusion and, ultimately, more misery. Complexity has brought with it an infinite number of options. Put the word “parenting” into 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. It makes sense from a business perspective but makes 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 a 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 into subject areas, and all you get are customers who keep coming back because their problem never goes away. It’s a good way to make money, but it’s not so good at making a difference. I should point out, though, that the people who 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 its currently complex light, the more confusing and ultimately useless the information becomes.
The parenting business is 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. Our instincts have evolved over 60,000 years.We simply have to re-discover them, tune out the extraneous noise, and listen. For additional parenting help, please click here.
Are you worried about your children growing up too early? Read the‘ The Sexualization of Childhood.’
Do you have a toddler with picky eating problems? Click here to see a blog I wrote on this subject.
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