Every parent has their own litany of experiences and their own “lessons learned.” Some of these will be the result of a single “aha!” moment… most will be the result of frustration and tears (probably yours, not your child’s).
If you are fortunate enough to have more than one child, you may get the opportunity to put those lessons to good use! When you do, hopefully you will get to bask in your own parental greatness. Unfortunately, your new bundle of awesomeness might have a different response for you.
Essential Parenting Advice
At the end of the day, there is only one truly essential piece of parenting advice every parent should follow and never forget:
“Take all parenting advice with a grain of salt. It worked for them and may work for you too… it might also be total BS for you and your kid.”
Even good advice can be bad for you and your kid. Yes, this includes any parenting advice you see here and anything read in a fancy eBook.
The example of this that always comes to mind is advice from Dr. Harvey Karp, MD. Dr. Karp is the author of the Happiest Baby on the Block (also a video version on Amazon Instant and DVD – make sure to get the 2013 updated version of the DVD) and Happiest Toddler on the Block (also a video version on Amazon Instant and DVD – make sure to get the 2012 updated version of the DVD) books.
I read the Happiest Baby on the Block before baby #1 was born. Almost without fail, the advice in this book was like gold for me. When my daughter got close to walking, I figured it was time to update my knowledge by reading Happiest Toddler. I knew two great sets of parents that both swore by this book’s advice and I had seen it in action. I read the book with great attentiveness and considered myself armed and ready for the toddler-time to come.
Yeah, not so much. Don’t get me wrong, there were some gems that I picked up in this book, but the key “tantrum defusing” technique mostly went completely ignored. Sometimes I got a look that I interpreted as “You keep talking to me like that and I’ll gouge your #$*@-in’ eyes out.” Yes, there was profanity in those eyes.
I’ll give all of this another go when baby #2 becomes toddler #2. Happiest Toddler is still on my Book Recommendations list because I have seen this work with other parents/kids (and, again, there were some “smaller” lessons from the book (like “feed the meter”) that have become part of my daily dad life) – but for me and my oldest daughter, the #1 advice in this book was useless.
80/20 Rule Probably Applies Here
My guess is 80% of parenting advice can be taken and applied successfully, if you chose to do so. The remainder will fall into one of two groups:
- Doesn’t work for you and your child as advertised (like the Happiest Toddler example).
- Discard out-of-hand. This is the advice you get that does not align with your parenting philosophy. It might also be “advice” that is really more a reproach on your parenting: “You shouldn’t let your two-year-old play on the ‘Designed for 5-7 year-old’ play-set; she could get hurt!” or “Timeouts are cruel!” (I’ve heard both of these).
Take the advice that works for you, ignore the advice (and the people) that doesn’t. Share what you think is helpful while giving those you are sharing with the same flexibility.
Have you ever gotten “great advice” that wasn’t? What was some of the best advice you received that you hung onto? Please share below!