Despite my incredible and potentially family-exploding advice, I am not a parenting expert.
But neither was Giorgio a musical prodigy when he discovered the sound of the future. Nor was penicillin discovered on purpose.
Sometimes you just get lucky.
Like I did when I discovered the key to successful parenting.
(Quick disclaimer: This is not “successful” parenting in that it guarantees great kids. But it is the key to remaining sane.)
The secret to being a happy parent? APATHY.
I’m not suggesting you stop caring about your kid (though in some cases giving them the cold-shoulder is not only perfectly acceptable but is the only appropriate response. Especially with toddlers.) I’m saying you need to stop caring about everyone else but your kid.
Stop worrying about what others think of your parenting. Stop thinking about what someone else is thinking when your kid has a meltdown in Target, or when he eats French fries, or when he watches TV during dinner at the restaurant, or when he dresses like a superhero in public or has a long ‘do or wears pink or plays with a doll or sucks his thumb or cries on the plane. They don’t know your life. They don’t know your kid. They don’t know you. And even if they do, they certainly don’t know any better than you. No one does.
Unless you’re pulling a Heisenberg and poisoning the kid in order to maintain control over your drug empire, chances are you’re doing just fine at this parenting thing. And your kid will be fine too, not that you’ll really have any idea for another thirty years or so. As far as my parents are concerned, the jury’s still out on me and I’m old enough to remember watching “CHiPs” in primetime.
As a friend of mine put it in a blog post I could have written if I were smarter and swore less, stop stressing out; it’s the fucking up that makes our kids who they are. But I’ll take it one step further than she did. Don’t just chill out, check out.
Check out of comparing, check out of competing, check out of controlling; check out of the capital-P Parenting racket that scares you with the consequences of not enough breast feeding and too much television and no plastic toys and more vitamin D and on and on and on.
Do what works for you and for your kids and for your family and stop caring about the so-called experts and the busybodies and the Other Parents and the people on Twitter who thought you really should have given your daughter better guidance before she started twerking all over Robin Thicke. The world would be a much better place if we stopped getting all up in other people’s junk, but since that’s never going to happen, we’ll have to settle for making ourselves happier by ceasing to care about what everyone else thinks.
You know how in Office Space, once the main character stops worrying and all his problems disappear? Yeah, that won’t happen for you. What will happen is you’ll stop burdening yourself with the unnecessary stress of keeping up appearances and you’ll become more relaxed. I’m no scientist, but I know a thing or two about the sociological experiment that is raising a toddler, and environment plays a big part. A more relaxed parent will likely result in a more relaxed child which will result in a more relaxed parent and so on and so forth. Yeah, I know, circular logic; the chicken and the egg. But does it really matter what came first when they’re both so delicious?
Parenting sucks enough without having to worry if you’re doing it “right” or living up to the standards of other people, even if those people have fancy degrees and ridiculous mustaches (I’m looking at you, Dr. Phil!)
Become a better, happier, more successful parent by freeing yourself from the tyranny of caring. Or don’t.
I don’t care.