Dr. Spock famously said to parents, “Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.”
But if the success and prevalence of parenting resources are any evidence, parents seem less and less able to trust themselves. Today, “about a third [of parents](34%) say they often or sometimes get advice from parenting websites, books or magazines,” according to Pew Research. With literally millions of free parenting blogs and websites to choose from, there’s an answer for every question easily accessible within seconds (if you include the time it takes to pull the phone of your pocket).
Many of the sites belabor the smallest, most common-sense points. For example:
Scary Mommy had a recent post entitled “Hey Kids, ‘Mama’ Is Not Synonymous With ‘Servant’,” in which the author points out—you guessed it—that moms should not be treated like servants:
“I tried to be in two places at once one time, and I ended up feeling resentful and angry that they would ask me to do so many things at the same time even though there was only one of me and six of them. So I had to take a step back. I had to breathe. I had to say it was OK that I couldn’t meet every single need the first time they asked, or even the fifth time they asked, or ever…”
Similarly, parenting.com shared an article on “Am I Supposed to Be My Child’s Playmate?” where the author describes her decision-making process about whether or not it was appropriate to play with her daughter:
“I made a decision right there that I would start playing with her to get the imagination juices flowing in her mind, but that after a few minutes, it was time for her to learn how to do it on her own. And what surprised me was that she did learn—very quickly. I found that she didn’t so much want me to play directly with her, as she wanted to be near me. To set up shop wherever I was, just as I had done with my mom.”
Both articles, and the many, many like them, take the time to painfully state and describe the obvious. But in supporting these ventures, our society has made parenting seem complicated and foreign, as if a person could not just make decisions without the help and input of “experts”.
There are certainly circumstances in the course of parenting that call for advice, solidarity, or the relief of a humorous take. But can we take a step back from analyzing every aspect of parenting and leave room for common sense? Perhaps then we would see the return of it.