To be a parent is hard. Why we complicate such a difficult task by worrying so much about what others think is beyond me but then again kids don't come with manuals so we try and grasp onto anything we can find that might help us.
I have read lots of articles on infant and child development, I have read even more about family processes, and marital interactions. I have started but never finished a single parenting book.
Because know one knows my child and books are often so political and close minded. They are often my way or the highway and that just doesn't work for me. At least the articles are part of the sciences which means they undergo scrutiny and should have a good research design to even be published. But the books and the parenting magazines drive me crazy! I mean maybe for the crafts and activity ideas but really press is mostly reinforcing what we want to hear or what conglomerates want to tell us.
So after years of studying and writing papers, and thousands of pages of literature that I have read. I present my parenting philosophy by the way I account to myself at the end of each night.
And the question I ask myself...
How many times did I make my children laugh today?
So simple right. Now I am incredibly grateful for all the literature I have read. It is stored somewhere in my brain and I am sure it subconsciously effects what I do with my kids. I know reading is the most important thing I can do with my children. Or the need for unstructured time through out the day but also the need for routines because kids CRAVE routines.Oh and autonomy-that has been beaten into my brain more than anything else. So yes I will continue to stay up to date and skim research articles on adolescents but really if my kids are laughing every day,
We laugh at funny pictures in books. We laugh outside when we pretend to eat doughnuts and D takes mine e v e r y s i n g l e time. We laugh before he dozes off to sleep because he knows if he starts laughing I will start laughing as well. We laugh at the funny sounds dad makes at the dinner table. We laugh when the bambino toots because we know it is going to smell and we are going to have run out of the room to escape the smell. We laugh when McQueen and Sally get stuck behind the toilet in the bathroom because they were hiding from Mater. We laugh at the silly songs we listen to as we do crazy dance moves. We laugh as we try new tricks out on the playground. We laugh when we tickle each other. We laugh when we spill something because mom and dad are always dropping things. We laugh at dad as we watch him from the window as he walks to our door making silly faces the whole way.
My whole life I was so excited to have posterity to make them smarter and more talented and make sure they had experienced the world by the time they were 5 but as a mom who recently went from a full time student with a part-time job as a mother of two I sure love the simple life. I also attribute this simplicity to the people of Samoa because they really are the happy people with so little by way of means or even opportunities.
When I was a the World Scholar Athlete Games at the University of Rhode Island in 2006 I attended a lecture/workshop by a man from a small village in Africa. I don't remember the details but he basically just explained what his life was like and the hardships he endured. It was humbling to listen too but he explained how happy he was and how grateful he was for where he came from. Some of the adult volunteers asked if they could donate money so they could send food over or buy a tractor for the village but his response was No. He responded that more is not better and that America has this aspect of life wrong.
I echo that sentiment and have made a simple life philosophy because of it.
This doesn't mean I am not trying to teach D to read, or the Bambino to use a fork, or have them write, or play musical instruments-simply that those things are going to happen regardless. My boys are constantly growing and changing and because I get to be home with them I get to be creative about how I am going to stimulate them in their own unique ways. And when I take my job seriously I am really pushed to the limit trying to think of ways to help them both learn and grow.
So to any parent or even spouse (because I do have pretty much the same philosophy for marriage) do yourself a favor. Keep it simple and enjoy the little things in life, I promise you wont regret it.