Jul 022014
Nurse and baby, copied for Miss Rodger in 1906

Nurse & baby, copied for Miss Rodger. 1906 (Credit: Musée McCord Museum)



There are things we hear so many times we start to think they’re true.  How about this one:  “Nobody teaches us how to be parents.”

I disagree.   We’re parenting experts: whether or not we’re aware, most of us have “studied” parenting  for years.   We’ve learned by watching what others do — especially the parents who raised us.  Whether we like the way they taught us or were injured by some of their choices we remember the lessons.  All of them. It’s as if small humans come equipped with a little video camera in our heads… the one that runs nonstop, 24 hours a day, seven days a week… forever.  [Tweet “It’s as if small humans come equipped with a little video camera in our heads…”]

Don’t believe me?  What about that unsettling experience of opening your mouth and hearing your parents’ words come out?  I can’t be the only one who has had that happen.  And to discover that by hearing something like “don’t make me turn this car around” is confusing.  Upsetting perhaps.  But the reason those words jump so quickly from our brains to our lips is simple: that’s what is in there.

Some people acknowledge and accept that programming without question. Others follow their parents’ paths unconsciously.  Still others make an effort to discard everything from their early years.  Many settle on a blend: trying to implement new ideas in some areas while keeping the best of the traditions they grew up with.

And we have plenty of material to work with before we read books and blogs or take courses.  Each of us has a range of strengths and weaknesses,  a wealth of experience to draw on during the hard times… and a bunch of pesky bad habits to tackle over and over again.

There as many definitions of success as there are individuals.  Part of the challenges of being a successful parent is to develop a definition that fits for you and your family.  Perhaps all of us really are parenting experts:  we have deeply imprinted models, a lot of time “in the laboratory”…. combined with data  and hypotheses about what works and what doesn’t.



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  7 Responses to “Parenting Experts All Around?”

  1. I vowed I would do things differently. And sure, I did some things differently from my parents but when all is said and done, they taught me how to be a really really good mom…and stepmom. My mom, who raised 7 kids but only gave birth to 3 of them, taught me so much. I met her when I was 9…and I know I gave her a run for her money. I’m sure she didn’t sign up the havoc and chaos that are inherent in just about every stepfamily. But dang, I am the parent I am because of this brave, courageous woman.

    Thanks Mom!!


    Vanquish Fear. Slay Doubt. Be Fabulous.

    • My husband and I have a blended (AND shaken AND stirred) family. Most of my “steps” were already grown when we merged but there’s this remarkable teen…. I hope some day he feels this way about me!

  2. Parenting is a subject that we could discuss for hours on end. When parenting with love, gratitude and the right intentions for yourself and your children the outcome is set up for positive results.

    • I think one of the most exciting things about parenting is the way we grow along with our children… new challenges, info, attitudes…. Maybe what we most often model is the ability to keep absorbing new data and incorporating it as we grow??? Thanks for taking the time to comment. I appreciate you.

  3. How right you are Andrea… we do learn parenting unconsciously. Without really understanding it all, we find ourselves repeating the same words and actions that we grew up with as children. The strangest thing is watching the transfer passed on to our own children.

  4. Hi Andrea,

    Thanks for another great article!

    My husband and I have a blended family of seven children and I can tell you that with every kid we get raised and out the door, we hone our skills for those on down the line. Our youngest is twelve and my husband and I often joke (but we mean it) that we are finally gonna get it right with the last one! LOL.

    Parenting has got to be the hardest job out there. I believe that when parents try to be positive role models for their kids, providing love and support, that it all works out in the end. There’s no such thing as parenting perfection! As for the four older kids that are out of the house (for the most part), they now look back and make fun of all the craziness we put up with as parents. Then they look at their little brother and tell him that he better watch out because we already know ALL the tricks. 😉

  5. So very true, Andrea. We learn as we go. And it is always so surprising (and somewhat mortifying) to hear my mom’s words come out of my own mouth. But then there are those also, that i learned from and chose to take a different approach.

    If we love them all for who they are and teach them to be kind… they’ll be blessed with faith and light and hope and a strength that’s all their own… but we must also have to choose who we are, for the learn from all they’re shown.

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