Parenting Paradigms

From the day I first announced my pregnancy, I was provided with scads of advice, directives, and opinions. No topic was untouched.

  • When was the right time to start wearing maternity clothes?
  • Should we opt for co-sleeping or use a crib?
  • How many onesies does a newborn need?
  • Cloth diapers or disposables?
  • Breast or bottle?

Labor and delivery decisions were just as fraught with nuance and complexity, with no easy answer to who would coach, who would cheer, and who should catch. And once the baby was born? Goodness! Nothing — and I mean nothing — ever passed muster, depending on who was evaluating the parent-child relationship that day.

So, in 21 years of parenting, I have learned that the world is chock full of opinion. Freely expressed opinion, whether it’s wanted or not. Opinion that cares little for the ideas or interests of the other person. Especially when it comes to parenting and child-rearing. What I thought was important was generally discounted due to my being a “new” parent. My friends who had children at the same time experienced a similar disenfranchisement.

It’s a tricky thing . . . on one hand, children are a joy. They re-ignite an adult’s delight in life. On the other hand, they can elevate functional panic to new levels.  Parents caught between the joy and the panic seem to be an easy target for the well-meaning advice givers and the advertisers.

Kids don’t come with manuals. Or at least they didn’t. But once Dr. Spock cornered the market dispensing child-rearing advice, the market ballooned with tools, advice columns and other guides for perplexed parents. Sadly, the sheer number of products and opinions do little more than further increase a parent’s anxiety level. At least they did mine. I hear from other parents that they feel pretty overwhelmed, too.

So, I wonder . . . what would it look like to learn from parents about what would best support them in all the different ways they nurture and raise children? Just what are parents interested in, what do they want or need? What have they learned? What could we learn if we took the time to actually listen instead of lecture?

So, for my COM561 Professional Multimedia Content Creation topic, I will focus on what I see as the paradigm of parenting: the tug and pull between the village and the parent. Let’s see what we learn!

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