Partial knowledge can be a dangerous thing.
I saw the Huffington Post article ‘5 Reasons Modern-Day Parenting is in Crisis-According to a British Nanny‘ floating around my Facebook newsfeed for days. I purposely ignored it, until a friend actually asked me to read it to see what I thought about it! I read it and to my surprise, it wasn’t as bad as I had thought it would be. Although, there are HUGE, POTENTIALLY, DANGEROUS GAPS if her advice is taken out of context. Her article was short, easy to read, had something that every parent could relate to BUT, I would like to revise it for her.
1. She said, “A Fear of Our Children”, I say, “A Fear of Understanding Our Children”
‘The Misunderstood Sippy Cup Test’
You give little Johnny the red sippy cup. He says he prefers the green sippy cup and you say, “No” for fear that you will make extra work for yourself and that he will never learn his lesson (that’s what British Nanny says). Well, hey, maybe Little Johnny just wants the green sippy cup? You might give him the green sippy cup and he could happily toddle off. Have you ever put on white undies and then decided that you wanted the beige ones instead? Now… the problem arises if little Johnny wants the green sippy cup, then the blue sippy cup, then the green sippy cup again and then throws the green sippy cup on the floor. Then, it’s true, you’ve made extra work for yourself. Little Johnny didn’t want ANY sippy cup. He probably is frustrated (as you do when you’re a toddler) and he needs to have a loving cry in your arms to vent his frustrations. So, recognizing the reason why your child wants a different color sippy cup is the first step. Do they truly want a the different sippy cup, or are they looking for an excuse to release their negative emotions through tears?
2. She said, “Raise the Bar”, I say, Remove the Bar
Afraid that your kid won’t sit through dinner at a restaurant? Well, British Nanny is right, you should be able to go out to dinner with your kids. They WILL sit through dinner if their emotional needs have been met prior to and during the event. This point of hers scares me the most, because without the proper tools, how would a parent know how to ‘make their kid‘ sit through dinner without bribery, threats or rewards? You don’t have to do any of those things to make a kid sit through dinner. Play with them, talk to them. If they squirm and fuss and try to run away, give them a big loving hug, they will probably start to cry, have a big release of emotions and then be fine again. I know, people might look at you funny if you ‘let’ a kid cry in a restuarant, so you can make sure that your child has had enough times to connect with you throughout the day, through laughter and supporting their emotional releases. They WILL sit through dinner. Also, will dinner take 25 minutes or an hour and a half? Be realistic about your expectations. And, if they get bored, look at it from their point of view. Would YOU like to be sitting there if nobody was talking or paying attention to you?!
3. She said, “We have indeed lost our village”, I say the same, but different.
Right on the money here, British Nanny, we have lost our village… BUT… our village was never there to reprimand our children for us! They were there to help us with the dishes and the cooking and the babywearing. I don’t believe that children can be naughty. Children don’t just have tantrums when they don’t ‘get their way‘. Their tantrums come from much more than that. Children will look for any excuse to blow off some steam. If you tell them, “No, not now” and they’re in a good mood, they usually don’t mind. But, if a child is already frustrated, tired, and emotionally neglected, they will use “No, not now.” as an excuse to throw a full blown tantrum.
4. She said, “Reliance on shortcuts”, but might not understand what a shortcut is.
Short term solution usually results in long term problems. British Nanny got a few things right here. Kids should definitely know that food takes more than 3 minutes in the microwave. BUT… a self soothing baby IS a short cut! As well as the vibrating rocking chair. Babies don’t self soothe, it’s not in their nature to be able to do that. A child’s ability to fall asleep on their own takes a long time, probably around 2 or 3 years (rough estimate). I’ve never expected my babies to self soothe… and you know what? They eventually learned how to fall asleep, but it took time and lots and lots of irreplaceable love and TIME. There are no shortcuts for love. Should you pick up a toddler when they fall and throw their arms up to you?! ABSOLUTELY!!! If you don’t show them that you can trust in people, then who the hell else will? But, when they do fall, let them cry, oh yes, let them cry. Tell that you understand how they must feel. We want our kids to learn trust, not that they need to live in the big bad world all on their own.
5. She said “Parents put their children’s needs ahead of their own needs.” I say, “Parents should Adapt a Democratic Approach to Parenting.”
British Nanny got some of this right… I firmly believe that everyone should have equal rights in the family. You give what you can and when the demands get to be too much, you say “No“. Should you get up to your baby every time they cry at night?! Um, hell yes! They are babies! If your four year old wants you at night, then maybe you can say, just a second (although my kids sleep IN my bed, so I’ve never even had to get up out of bed anyway). Do you have to drop everything to rush across the zoo to get your kid a drink of water. No, of course not. Who does that? You bring a freaking red sippy cup!!
I fear that if we generalize problems and don’t look at a holistic approach to parenting, then our modern-day parenting is in crisis. There’s no way we can raise a loving, caring and trusting generation if we teach our kids to ‘toughen up‘ and figure life out the ‘hard way‘. Life already is already full of hardships and lessons right from the very first breath a child takes. We can teach our children to be hard on the inside and soft on the outside. The foundation of love, trust and empathy can be deeply instilled while we also teach our children to be resilient towards life. I know where British Nanny’s point of view is coming from because there are certainly problems with our kids today… but those problems are mostly from lack of awareness in our parenting and our inability to respond in certain stressful situations because we, ourselves, are lacking support and patience. Becoming a nanny is a challenging yet rewarding job, if you are interested in working with kids then something you can look into is becoming an Au Pair, as this way you can gain experience for childcare while exploring a new country, if this something that interests you then check out Cultural Care Au Pair. An Au Pair is a person who travels to a foreign country to gain experience through taking care of children, they stay with their host family and have the ability to study or experience the culture of their host country.
You can read British Nanny’s post here, if you really want to.