The one where she takes on Parenting Experts. (Oh, the irony.)
For some reason this week, I’ve spotted a few different articles on how to talk to your kids. They are all very well-meaning, and some offer great advice. But that doesn’t mean I have don’t have a problem with every single one.
Here is my issue: there are no experts in how to talk to your kids. There are many of us who claim to be experts in parenting, but that’s solely for marketing purposes. We may be experts in child development, or education, or behavioral sciences, but Parenting Expert is a bit of a stretch. The reason? Because the only experts on the topic of your kids, are you. And you get that way with the help of some other experts and with one big caveat.
Here’s the caveat: you have to talk and really listen to your kids in order to be experts in them.
Oh sure, in the early days, it’s easy to be an expert. I mean after the first early months when it feels impossible, you finally start to learn because you do nothing but pay attention to them. You learn every coo, every gurgle, every cry and can decipher their meaning from across a crowded room if necessary.
It can be very heady knowing so much about something; more than anyone else, in fact.
Parenting babies is both humbling and ego-boosting all at once.
Then they grow up, even a few years, and suddenly you feel like you don’t know anything anymore. Wanna know why? Because you don’t. And neither does anyone else, except the people who are really paying attention.
Please, hear me when I say that I understand that paying attention is hard. I have three kids, each different in their way. One talks all the time. You’d think then it would be easy to know that one. But when the chatter is constant, it can mean you lose focus on the important parts because you tend to hear it as a dull buzz unless you really try.
I have one who never talks, except when things boil over into such a state of unrest that ALL THE THINGS come out at one time. That’s hard because as a parent, and a counselor, I often don’t know where to look or listen first. It’s easy to miss something really important unless you really try to hone in on what’s behind the avalanche of words that stumble out with the volcano of emotions.
I have one who is so far into their emotional state that at a young age, they are deeper than most adults. Their highs are high and their lows are low and while they are becoming increasingly predictable, both the highs and the lows are hard to manage unless I really try with all my mental and physical energy (including that which is often on reserve for jobs, or marriage or the other children).
See, at the end of the day, no matter what the experts say, that’s all we can do: try.
Try to listen.
Try to engage.
Try to connect and learn who they are inside, and relearn every year because it changes all the time while actually remaining exactly the same as when they were cooing and gurgling.
Try to really hear them in whatever way the communicate.
Try to meet them where they are-even if the places are different from the other kids, or they change every day or just after you think you’ve finally figured them out.
Try to make time, real time to do all of the aforementioned things.
Kids don’t care if we get it all right. They care if we try. Even if you think they don’t notice, even if they’re self-sufficient, even if they don’t seem to need you as much, or they are quieter than they used to be. Kids notice if we notice them. Our efforts matter. And isn’t all we want at the end of the day is for them to know we cared enough to make the ffort?
You got this parents. It’s a wild and awesome ride. Here’s to us trying our best to hang on while we work toward being the real expert in parenting.