So what’s the secret of parenting? Is there even a secret? Well, before I answer that, have you ever watched the movie Babe? At the end of the movie, a flock of sheep just won’t do as they’re told at the sheep dog trials. Babe the farmer’s alternate ‘sheep pig’ is finally told by the ewe herself the secret magic word to get the sheep to listen. Baa–ram–ewe! Baa–ram–ewe! To your breed, your fleece, your clan be true!
Is there really a parenting secret?
So is there a baa-ram-ewe equivalent parenting secret? Is there a singular action that you can do, that will ensure you have nice, well behaved, fabulous kids? Well the answer to that is, no. Yes there are certainly some things that you can do but having said that, there is no magic ‘baa-ram-ewe’ equivalent.
But that’s where things get a little strange because in my business of helping people with their parenting problems, one of the first things I notice, is that many parents out there are constantly on the look out for a series of quick fix tips that will magically disappear their parenting issues and give them happy well behaved children. They are in effect, looking for the secret of parenting.
So why don’t quick fix parenting strategies work?
So it’s worth asking, why are parents drawn to quick fix solutions for their parenting struggles? What is it about quick fixes that makes the answers more compelling than solutions that are more the lines of, ‘work your socks off.’ Well, I think we all know the answer to that question. It’s because we are genetically disposed to finding the easiest path. This has resulted in a modern society where we’re constantly bombarded with the products that allow us to take the path of least resistance. A health club membership that avoids you having to walk in the snow. TV dinners. Dishwashers so we don’t have to reach for a scrub pad and so on.
We have the ability to choose
We’ve got time to do what we want. We’re free! Or are we? But just as we’ve been liberated from the mundane chores of life, we’re increasingly looking for that same quick fix approach when it comes to our kids. It’s everywhere. I notice this need for ease all over the place. Case in point. I’ve just had my website redone. I hope you like it. But when I had it redone there were a whole whack of things I had to change, not because they were bad, but because I had to make it more ‘readable.’ Ok what’s readable? Well it turns out that nobody can be bothered to read an article anymore so I had to divvy it up in to titled paragraphs to help keep people’s attention. Are you still here? Oh, great thanks so much for renewing my faith! No, really I mean that.
Parenting solutions need to be for the long haul
So now I’m not going to include you anymore in the quick fixers because you’re still reading this but it’s true that if most other people can’t get a ‘solution’ to their parenting problems in the first five seconds, they don’t bother looking any further. They’re looking for the baa-ram-ewe secret of parenting or it’s equivalent. The 10 easy tips. The five best ways. 12 parenting tricks that will make your child stop their temper tantrums and so on. The bizarre part is though that these quick, magic, solutions are often way more work than if parents actually got to the root of the behaviour the first time around and then did something about it.
It’s human nature
Think of it like this. You have a car with a slow leak in the tire. You’ve been meaning to do something about it but the tire place is quite a drive and it’s money and it’s time and you just can’t be bothered. Anyway, it’s a super slow leak but it still means that regularly you have to pull up at the air pump, keep a regular eye on it, get out in all weathers and pump it up. It’s annoying and time consuming and sometimes it’s raining whilst you have to stand at the air pump. However, it’s still not actually unpleasant enough for you to make the effort to get to the tire place and fix the problem, once and for all, at least not until it gets so bad that you no longer have an option.
There’s no easy way out
It’s often the same with behaviour issues, like temper tantrums or picky eating. They’re annoying and time consuming. Parents would rather they weren’t happening. While they’re struggling with their little person’s meltdowns along comes a magazine that offers 10 easy tips, so parents dive off in one direction and then another. They try this and try that, ask their friends, get texted an easy solution or try a new tip. They’re always searching for the secret as if a secret to parenting was just one tip away. And that’s not because they don’t care. Ironically, it’s because they do care, very much, so much so that they want it fixed immediately, on the spot, now! But whenever we try and change something without the work put in to understand why our children are behaving like that, it’s a band aid solution and by definition, the results won’t last.
It’s part of our system
Tips are just an extension of our quick fix society. They are the anthesis, the polar opposite of a solution that simply keeps the problem reoccurring. Having people coming back is built in to an economic system that demands growth. You like something, you keep buying more of it. That’s how money is made and jobs created. The ups and downs of life though are not commercial, yet that’s what they have become.
Things have changed and not for the better
In days gone by nobody profited from advice. It was simply part of community, handed out as part of family and community gatherings for the betterment of all. While the economic opportunities of the parenting market provide me with a much appreciated dinner, the downside of having turned our inner struggles in to market opportunities has come home to roost.
Tips are our own parenting version of that economic treadmill at work. They are an endless stream of semi solutions that never work properly because they appeal to our need for instant gratification, without the hard work and understanding that underlies it. They are by their nature, temporary.
Baa-ram-ewe was the sheep pig’s recipe for success but then again, it was just a movie. We live in the real world. For more information see my behaviour intervention services. For fun articles, check out the number #1 biggest parenting mistake.