Last night I was invited to spend some time with the staff and contributors of Kid Around Magazine. I soon found that I was among kindred spirits. We discussed our desire to see the parenting community come together and support one another during this incredibly important and challenging phase of life. To be inclusive rather than divisive; to stand boldly in the face of the mommy wars and declare a very long Time Out.
As a parenting coach, I get to work with families of all varieties; strict, relaxed, faith based, agnostic, public school, private school, homeschool, special needs, gifted, organic, vaccinators, essential oilers, spankers, no spankers, no television, and toddlers with Netflix accounts. And guess what, they all, WE all, have a very similar goal; to raise healthy, confident, happy young adults who are independent and able to contribute to their communities in some way. But because we have varying priorities and values, we don’t necessarily agree on the best way to reach that goal.
The truth is, there are foundational principles of human behavior and healthy parenting that are consistent, but there are many ways to apply those principles, especially with a dose of creativity. Each family is having it’s own unique life experience, and based on their priorities and value system, will gravitate toward the parenting methods that support their worldview. And it’s great! For example, I have several tactics for establishing a successful bedtime, but there isn’t just one method that works for every child. I have to take into consideration the child’s temperament, stress levels, family style and even bedroom arrangement.
There are parents of all varieties that are doing this parenting thing well. And there are parents of all varieties that are struggling. We have days when we are both, sometimes within the span of a few hours.
The vast majority of parents are working hard, and are willing to go to great lengths to provide the very best for their children. That’s our rallying point as a community. We connect over our common goal, not necessarily our common method.
On the back of my business cards I have quote that I am fond of…
"It doesn’t do us parents any good to sit alone, wondering if we are doing something wrong.”
The power of community is the open-handed, open-minded sharing of resources and ideas. Not to mention a badly needed dose of “Oh yes, we went through that, too.” It’s a place to give and receive empathy and compassion and support, regardless if what worked for you doesn’t work for someone else.
I love the direction that Kid Around Magazine is headed! And in it’s spirit I leave you with this analogy;
We are gardeners. We have all planted seed and are anxiously awaiting the spoils of our labor. We water, and feed, and prune, and watch for pests, but because we are all growing unique plants, that may be where the similarities end. Some gardeners are growing shade loving ferns, who thrive in gentle, indirect light and regular waterings. Others are growing crepe myrtles, who bask in the hot sun and don’t like to have the feet of their roots wet. A successful gardener knows the unique needs of each of his plants, and how to tend them in the way that will produce the most growth. There is no sense is chastising a fellow gardner for cultivating his fern differently than you care for your crepe myrtle. However, it does make sense to share the brand of your favorite feed, or newest pest repellant. And just maybe you might want to ask him a few questions, because down the road, you may sprout a little fern of your own.