I don’t agree with your parenting choices. Now let me explain how you should raise your own children.

There are seven billion people in the world. How many of them are children? I don’t know, let’s ballpark it at around two billion. Just for argument’s sake, can we say there are two billion children in the world?

Good, OK. Alright, what’s the average child-per-parent ratio in America these days? I think it’s less than one (always a sign of a thriving civilization), but I’ll be generous and call it two. So, Average Parent in America, out of all the children in the entire world, what percentage have you personally parented? Consider every unique, individual, distinct child. Consider the infinite multitude of environmental, biological, psychological, spiritual, cultural and educational factors that went into crafting their specific and particular identities. Contemplate the human mind; its mysterious nature, its immeasurable complexity. Now consider the fact that every child has one of these minds all to its own. Think about human personality and how many different sorts of it that you’ve encountered in your own limited experience. Now multiply that by a few billion. Try to wrap your head around the variety and diversity of humanity. Now, go back to my question: what percentage of these have YOU actually parented?

Here, I’ll help. The answer is approximately .000000001. If I’m not mistaken, that’s about a tenth of a tenth of a tenth of a tenth of a tenth of a tenth of a tenth of a tenth of a tenth of a percent. The sleepless nights, the stressful days, the joys, the pains, the sorrows, the elation, the suffering, the sacrifice, the love; everything that comes with parenting. You’ve gone through all of this — with .000000001 percent of the children on the planet. You have never parented a full 99.99999999 percent of the children in the world.

By no means am I attempting to diminish your experience. How could I? What kind of person would want to do such a thing?

No, your experience is profound and beautiful. Your experience is incredible and unimaginable. Your experience is YOUR experience. It could never be less than that, but it also can’t be more than that.

Stop trying to make it more than that. It’s everything it needs to be. But your experience is not enough to write the Official Guide to Parenting the Right Way. Your sample size is far too small, and so is mine, and so is everybody’s.

So stop it. Just stop it. If you debate parenting techniques as if there’s One Right Answer, and then accuse other parents of causing damage to their children because they don’t subscribe to your techniques: stop it. If there’s two billion children on the planet, there’s two billion answers. TWO BILLION. Are you confident that you have the formula for all two billion of them? If you do, then your own kids better be perfect. I mean, flawless. I mean, you’re raising a little Gandhi/Mother Theresa/Moses/Spiderman hybrid. If you have the secret to parenting EVERY CHILD ON THE PLANET, I better not come to your house and find your kid stuffing crayons up his nose or peeing on the cat or whatever other things that normal (but not perfect) kids do. I better find him in his room, playing a recording of a classical music piece he composed, while inventing a cure for cancer.

See, something happened, and I never wanted it. I became a “Daddy Blogger.” I guess because I have a blog, and I am a daddy, and sometimes those two things collide. Whatever the reason, some folks are now under the impression that my blog is “about parenting.” Little do they know that my blog isn’t actually about anything. Some days it might be about parenting. Others, it might be about religion, or fitness, or psychology, or bad musicals, or politics. I’m not an expert in any of these subjects but I write about them because they’re on my mind. When things are on my mind, I write them down. My therapist recommended that strategy about ten years ago; and now here we are.

In any case, I’m perceived as a “Daddy Blogger,” which means I get a lot of emails dealing with parenting topics. Some of them are interesting and enlightening. Some of them — dozens every week — are, well, like this one from last night:

“…can you write a post about CIO? Parents that do this are abusing their children and creating abandonment issues for the future. I have some friends that practice CIO and I can’t stand what they’re doing to their children…”

I had to look up “CIO.” I thought it stood for Chief Intelligence Officer — in which case, yes, absolutely. I think parents ought to be the CIOs of the household; analyzing data, monitoring phone calls, spying on computer and internet activity, tracking your kids’ comings and goings, etc.

Ah, but apparently CIO actually stands for “cry it out.” This is when your baby is crying in her crib and you let her cry it out, rather than immediately coming and picking her up. I had no idea that this was a “thing.” I thought it was something that people do sometimes, depending on the child, depending on the circumstance, depending on her needs, depending on the parents, depending on a thousand different ifs ands and buts. Silly me. Google informs me that this is a huge controversy. How long OTHER PEOPLE allow THEIR children to cry has become controversial. We must all have an opinion about whether or not any parent should ever do this in any situation, and we must impose that opinion on others.

Here’s another email. This one is from Friday:

“Matt, as a well known Dad Blogger I thought you’d like to tackle the issue of spanking. Personally I think the white trash hicks who physically impose themselves ontheir kids should be locked away. How is anyone still doing this in the year 2013? Spanking is just another word for child abuse.”

That’s from a guy named Vince. He’s determined that spanking is always wrong for every child no matter what, and any parent who does it must be an abusive white trash hick. My parents spanked us on rare occasion. They had six kids. Three of us are now married with kids, another entered a religious order, and the youngest is still in college at a small private university. In other words, we’re all having success, living nice lives, and we were all spanked as kids. Would we be failures if we hadn’t been spanked? No, I doubt it. But spanking was part of a parenting strategy that really appears to have worked well for my parents. So that’s it. End of discussion.

Or at least it should be.

And there are hundreds of other emails and messages I could copy and paste here, but I don’t think that’s necessary. Parenting is “controversial” nowadays, so naturally every single dimension of it must be debated, discussed, argued over and even legislated. The Spanish sought the Fountain of Youth. We seek the Perfect Parenting Recipe.

Well, we don’t “seek” it, so much as try to convince all of our friends that we already have it.

What are we doing to ourselves? What are we doing to parents? What are we especially doing to new parents? I can answer that last question, because I am one. We are taking an already difficult time, and an already overwhelming experience, and heaping on top of it a massive helping of paranoia, not to mention feelings of doubt and insufficiency. I’m a pretty confident guy but even I feel the impact after a while. It’s inevitable when everyone is beating me over the head with “advice” that’s always framed like this: “PARENT YOUR CHILDREN MY WAY OR THEY WILL DIE!”

And, since everyone thinks they have the Handbook to Parenting, you end up with a billion different Handbooks that say a billion different things. Imagine getting a job at a nuclear reactor, only to sit down at the control panel and find that every button has a dozen conflicting labels: “push here if you want to turn up the air conditioning, or it might cause a fire, or it might make chocolate gum drops fall from the sky, or it might blow up the city, or it might turn on the coffee maker. Also, if you don’t push this button everyone will die. Or they’ll die if you do push it. Push the button. Don’t push the button. But push it. Don’t push it.” It would have to be a really huge control panel if every button was labeled that way, but you get the point.

And that’s what’s become of modern parenting. Whereas moms and dads used to make every decision based on the needs of their particular child, now we all enter into this thing utterly discombobulated by the busybody blathering of the peanut gallery. I don’t think you should parent your child based on any societal consensus, but if I wanted to determine the consensus, it seems to be something like this: You shouldn’t spank your child because it’s abusive and you’ll destroy his self-esteem and ruin his life. But you also should spank your child because if you don’t he won’t be disciplined and then he’ll turn into a drug addict and his life will be ruined. You shouldn’t let your baby cry it out because you’ll create abandonment issues and you’ll ruin his life. But you also should let him cry it out because otherwise he’ll become needy and demanding and he’ll never be a well-adjusted adult and his life will be ruined. You shouldn’t circumcise because it’s genital mutilation and you’re a horrible person who ruined their son’s life. You also should circumcise because it’s hygienic and it prevents infections and it prevents the ruination of your child’s life. You shouldn’t use formula because it’s lazy and you’re an awful parent and you will ruin the lives of your children. But you also shouldn’t breastfeed for too long because you’re a freak and a weirdo and your child will grow up and still be breastfeeding when she’s in college, which will ruin her life. Oh, don’t forget sleeping. Yes, sleeping is controversial. How you choose to sleep, and the location of your baby while you sleep — this is something that must be hotly debated. You shouldn’t co-sleep because it creates attachment issues and you might smother your child and he’ll die. You also should co-sleep because only a monster would banish their child to a different room, where she will likely get SIDS and die. Wait, but pacifiers. Yes, pacifiers. These are lightning rods for controversy. You shouldn’t use pacifiers because you’ll give your child an oral fixation and he’ll be dependent on them until he’s 40 and his life will be ruined. You also should use pacifiers because otherwise he’ll cry all the time and you’ll feed him just to shut him up and he’ll get fat and his life will be ruined. What about the sort of car seat you buy? Or the diapers you use? Or the clothing you dress them in? Or how you carry them? All controversial. You’re a scoundrel and a lowlife no matter which way you go with any of these decisions. And many of these things are really only “controversial” among moms — dads don’t generally argue about these sorts of topics — but I get thrust into the middle of all of this simply because I wrote a few blog posts about parenting. WHAT IS GOING ON? WHAT IS WRONG WITH US? CALM DOWN, EVERYONE. ME FIRST? Right, me first.

OK, I’m calm. But seriously, this is nuts. Parenting is hard enough as it is. We don’t have to turn every movement, every choice, every strategy, into a battlefield, where the bruised and bloodied bodies of unsuspecting parents are strewn about; beaten and defeated by the barbarian hordes who descended upon hearing news that some stranger was raising their kid in a way that doesn’t align with the beliefs and perspectives of every other person on the globe.

As far as I can tell, from my own .000000001 percent experience, there is only one “strategy” that absolutely every parent in the world ought to adopt: love your children. Love them. Strive to do what is best for them. This, this I will insist is the “right” way for all parents to parent. I’m not saying love is ALL your child needs. She probably needs some food, and water, and shelter, and a ride to field hockey practice, but give her all of these things in love. And whatever direction you go with the “controversial” parenting topics, go that way in love. Love your child. Love YOUR child, specifically. The opinions of the self-appointed jury don’t matter, because those people don’t love your kids. Not like you do. They also don’t know them. Not like you do. They speak in the abstract, based on their experience with their own children. But their own children aren’t your children, and the distinction is absolutely relevant. I don’t know anything. I’m not an expert in anything. I’m certainly not an expert in parenting. But I’m pretty sure about this part. Love your children. Love them, and everything else will fall into place.

Love your child. Then spank him if he needs it. Or don’t. It’s up to you.

But if you do, you’re a white trash hick. So keep that in mind.

**********

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@MattWalshRadio

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337 Responses to I don’t agree with your parenting choices. Now let me explain how you should raise your own children.

  1. Grandma says:

    From the “you’re a wicked stepmother to best Mom in the world’ – love them, listen to them, definitely spank them, and make sure you stick to your rules. They will hate you and then they will love you.. This is a great blog! Thanks, Matt!

  2. All I have to say is you are awesome and I love your posts.

  3. JazzyB says:

    That’s a nice post, Matt Walsh, you’re right. Just love them everyday -everything else will fall into place.

  4. Emily says:

    Reblogged this on A Shot In The Dark.

  5. Emily says:

    You always hit the nail on the head.

  6. Christina says:

    Thank you for yet another hilarious post! So funny, and so true! I had to share this one on Facebook! There’s a person or two I hope can learn from this! 🙂

  7. Lily Darais says:

    Thank you so much for writing this much-needed post. Would that all parents would read it–we’d all love each other a lot more if we weren’t trying to tell each other what to do all the time!

  8. awesome! Love this completely, it is hard being caught like a deer in the headlights on parenting. As a parent of 2 individuals, and a daycare operator I feel like that deer when parents will ask advice. Every home is different, like you, I tell them it is an individual choice and thank God we are not all robots. My 2 were totally different so discipline was completely different for each of them, I always heard oh they will think you favor one over the other. Nope both are doing well, I do not think there is a wrong or right way, unless whatever isnt working for you, do not be afraid to switch things up…a very wise woman once told me there is not one parent that does it all right, if they say it, then they are lying.

  9. becky says:

    Super interesting post in the light of my experience being an American and living in other countries with my small children. Where I live now, there is basically one generally accepted style of parenting that the grandmothers pass along to their children and variations on these are generally scolded into form. In the book Bringing Up Bebe, the author explains a similar situation in Paris where there are basic rules to parenting that Parisians gladly follow which seem to work well. When people of all different heritages and experiences and customs come together and live side-by-side as they do in the USA there absolutely has to be a toleration for variable styles and choices in parenting.

  10. If you had a good Grandma helped raise you and she said you disrespect me in so many words I will mall you head, you hit me you will draw back a nub… if you say wait she said, weigh is what broke the wagon down… well someone would say she was abusive… she most loving person you wood every know but, you had respect for her… so then if you had a Mama that followed in her foot steps and raised me the same way she took a hard wood and beat me, not whip… you think she abusive not she was the sweetest Mama ever if you was sick she loved me well with her presents and love… well when I had children I followed the same pattern if they need a spanking I gave it to them well you think I was abusive I love my children so much just gave a lot advice that was given to me… I was such a good Mama after raising three God gave me three more to raise over night I became a new Mother of three daughters and I am raising the same way… never broke a bone… maybe a few hearts… I believe what ever they do in life my words will stick… so have your rules and stick with them do not be afraid to say no… that Is my favorite words…

  11. Laura says:

    Interesting that some of the commenters don’t seem to get that they are making your point for you. 😉

  12. Sarah says:

    Thank you I could not have said it better!

  13. Elizabeth says:

    My advice to new parents is always
    “Read your child, not a book.”

    • chococatania says:

      Love this!

    • Anita says:

      Or, read the book and choose what works for your child and you. There actually is good information out there if you read it with some common sense.

    • Mary says:

      what a great statement/belief~!

    • Nancy Barrett says:

      But occasionally parents DO need to read a book … on child development. So many parents (and judgmental strangers) have no clue about what the range of normal behaviors are for a child of a particular age. Our society in general tends to expect children to behave older than they actually are, which places a huge stress on kids and parents. They are not little adults and their brains do not come pre-wired with all the knowledge that is needed to be successful in life.

  14. Reia says:

    I love your blog! Amen!

  15. Julie says:

    Thank you for this. It is funny, but I was just having some of these same thoughts today and then checked email to read this blog. I have two sons ages 9 and 7. I remember when I was pregnant with my first son along with all of the congratulations invariably came a slew of unsolicited parenting advice and it has not stopped. Some of it is helpful, but some is absolutely useless. Of course there are times when I wonder if I am doing the right thing or if I will be enough. You see, my husband passed away unexpectedly 11 months ago and now I have become a statistic. A single mom raising two kids. I am incredibly insecure about how I am handling things at times. But one night not long ago, I was tucking my oldest in bed…hugs and kisses. He looked at me with sweet sincerity in his eyes and he said, “I think your a good mom.” I said, “Well, I am doing my best.” Then he added, “I know you are.” Even if the world has their own opinion about how I am doing, there are really only two opinions that I care about. Their names are Matthew and Zachary. Every day I try to make the best decisions I can with the information I have available to me at the time; to love them the best way I know how. Thank you for encouraging other parents to do the same.

    • Julie Ann says:

      You are an inspiration and have a good head on your shoulders. I am sorry for your devastating loss, but you are doing a good job…because your boys said so 🙂 Peace to you and your family ❤

  16. chococatania says:

    I love this post. I totally agree. Love is the foremost thing that we need and can do for our children.

    When my sister was pregnant with her first child, she had been reading a lot of books and had a lot of opinions on parenthood. We were having a discussion, and she asked me if I had any advice. I let her in on my big secret to successful parenting:
    The sooner you realize that you have no idea, the better you’ll be.

    Even with four kids, I have no idea how to parent in specific situations! I learn as I go. Each kid is different. Each scenario is different. When I realized that I really didn’t know anything, the better parenting got! I got rid of my expectations, and just tried to love my kids, learn from them, and be happy. 🙂 Yay!!!

  17. maggiene says:

    Thank you! So, so well written!!

  18. Tracey says:

    Thanks for helping me smile this morning. Parenting was kicking my butt before 8 a.m. 🙂

  19. Susanna says:

    As I do not have children, I offer parenting advice from the enviable position of being completely clueless. I can and do start my advice-giving with the statement, “I never had any problems with my children doing… (fill in the blank)”. My advice is typically received with as much attention as it deserves. Mostly I just aunt as hard as I can, and, I must say, with excellent results so far.

  20. larva225 says:

    I love hearing this from a father. Between opting for C-sections (vs “natural” births without meds) to co-sleeping, to nursing past 6 months of age, to opting to have my son circumcised, I’m sure I’ve been nominated for the worst mother EVER award at least a dozen times. Hell, I was terrified to even attempt to educate myself on circumcision, just knowing the horror show that Google would depict from both sides of the lunatic fringe.
    To me, parenting is loving your kids, as you so eloquently put it, and just outright survival sometimes.

  21. Thank you, Matt. I have, for the last 11 years, dealt with the harsh judgement of other mothers. It does cause a certain level of anxiety that causes one to doubt their ability as a parent. I have endured the PTA and overly competitive moms who believe that they have to have a class party that is bigger and better than anyone else, or whose daughter has to have the most extravagant Homecoming dress. My favorites are the ones in the check out at Target who give you a once over and sneer because you are giving your kids candy to keep them quiet, or singing a ridiculous song to keep them engaged. The judging is almost unbearable! Before I had children, I had concocted a perfect parenting scheme of what I would and would not do as a parent. That lasted until I heard that first, perfect cry and I knew that no set of instructions was needed. Parenting is about love, nurture, and instinct. It takes an enormous amount of patience and diligence. If a parent needs a book to tell them how to do these things, perhaps being a parent isn’t the right choice for them.

  22. Sarah says:

    My pediatrician came in the day I had my first child and asked me this, ‘Do you want a happy, healthy child?’ Well, yes, yes I do. He then proceeded to say the world will tell you hundreds of things, but you only need to remember three. ‘Feed him, change him, love him.’

    Three I can do. It has helped me navigate through the craziness this world throws at us.

  23. J. Morris says:

    Dude, you are so not a parenting blogger. I just had to get that out.

    For the parenting stuff, I totally agree, even though I’ve been guilty of judging my SIL for her choices in rearing her child. The details aren’t important, but I’ve finally (after 9 years) come to realize that what works for her, works for her, even if it would be disastrous for me and mine.

    And, even if she’s making mistakes, SO AM I. Our different parenting styles reflect the fact that our kids all have different personalities. Heck, I have a different parenting style for each of my kids.

  24. D.O. says:

    I may still be considered a “young mother” but I’ve also got five children and I’ve seen for myself how different each child is and how our changing circumstances affect how I parent each child. (It was a different for baby #1 who got all my time and attention than for #5 who has to share it, but also has the love and attention of her older siblings)

    I realize the topic of circumcision always gets heated rather quickly. For what it’s worth, I believe that every parent who circumcises does so believing they are doing the very best for their child. I don’t fault parents for doing what they believe is best. However, research is now quickly debunking the idea that circumcision is purely beneficial with very few risks.Up until now we’ve been told that the foreskin is “an extra flap of skin” when in reality it’s incredibly complex and very beneficial. But since we don’t typically talk about other people’s privates, it’s not something people like to bring up. And because circumcision is the cultural norm, a lot of people have a very hard time even considering another option. We’re told the natural male form is gross, disgusting, dirty and prone to infection. It’s really hard to people to understand that those are ideas unique to our circumcising culture

    When the topic first came up my husband insisted we would circumcise our boys. He now admits that he didn’t even really know what circumcision was, but he had been conditioned to believe it the only way. I admire him for researching it and deciding that even though it was done to him (with only minor negative consequences) that he was not going to make that choice for his own sons. He will tell you that it’s not his choice to make and that he wishes he’d had the choice for himself as well.

    The vast majority of parents are loving, kind, generous and amazing people. But there are always things that we can learn so that we can be better parents.

    • Curio says:

      Could you please share what you believe the minor negative consequences of the circumcision vs. the benefits of not circumcising (and the big benefits of the flap of skin) based on your research/experience? This isn’t a loaded question—genuinely curious. I only know my own experience.

      • D.O. says:

        There is so much already on the internet, but I’ll share a couple really good links. While NSFW, this information reads somewhat like an anatomy textbook, but there are pictures, so be warned.
        http://www.drmomma.org/2009/09/functions-of-foreskin-purposes-of.html
        http://www.noharmm.org/advantage.htm

        As for the negative affects of circumcision– when you remove the foreskin you automatically lose the aforementioned benefits. The following link starts out talking about the immediate risks to newborns, but keep scrolling for more information about how it affects men and their sexual function, as well at how it affects women. Ever wonder why we have so many ads for ED and sexual lubricants?
        http://www.thewholenetwork.org/consequences-of-circumcision.html

        No parent today would ever circumcise their child to deliberately reduce their sexual sensitivity. Unfortunately, that’s exactly why it was pushed in the 1800s. The history of how and why circumcision was initially pushed in the US is actually rather disturbing. And the so-called benefits have never held up. (For example, we often hear of the reduced risk of penile cancer. They don’t tell you, however, that penile cancer is very rare. More rare than breast cancer IN MEN. It should never be used as a reason to cut healthy tissue from a child)

    • TheJackB says:

      I had to laugh because your comment is so biased. For every study you find saying circumcision is bad we’ll show you ones that say it’s good.

      But let’s not get into ridiculous conversations where we pretend parents should not make decisions for their kids because we do it all the time and rightly so.

      • D.O. says:

        There are a lot of decisions that we have to make for our children. And there are a lot of decisions that do not have one right answer. But circumcision is a unique procedure that we can’t compare to any other “parenting strategy.” We’re cutting healthy tissue from of a healthy individual to prevent problems that statistically aren’t even likely to happen. It’s like choosing to get your baby’s appendix removed because your aunt’s neighbor’s gardener nearly died of appendicitis and you want to spare your child the same agony. We just don’t do that. Until there is a problem, you don’t go removing body parts, especially from babies who have no say in the matter. We’re essentially choosing cosmetic surgery for somebody else.

        A foreskin is not a birth defect. .It is there for a reason. And surgery, no matter how small, always comes with certain risks.

        I have no problem with an adult choosing circumcision for cosmetic reasons. But as parents we shouldn’t go permanently altering our children’s bodies based on our own ideas of what is normal or better-looking.

    • Some people do it for religious or family reasons. And, while men who are circumcised cannot tell you if their lives would be better if they’d never been circumcised, the ones I know are still successful adults in loving relationships.

      [which was kinda the point of this blog post. Just like you said, it’s a little flap of skin, so maybe it’s not as big of a deal as you’re making.]

      • Rebecca says:

        Actually, we’ve learned a lot. And I agree as we have one who has and rest have not, so no judging, but there does need to be an understanding that what is done now in US is NOT what was done in OT. By all means, if you feel you must do so for religious reasons, PLEASE have a Jewish mogul (sp?) do so and take only the very end tip not the ENTIRE foreskin. PLEASE know it’s NOT like it is here in US…it’s only a SMALL cut. God never intended ALL to be taken off, to think so would mean he messed up when he created the male body. Just a small cut, small mark. Interesting to note, that as Christians in the NT we are told circumcision is no longer necessary. For older men it causes dryness and issues. But it is another area each family needs to decide, but just KNOW both sides when making the choice. We didn’t with the first.

  25. Jen says:

    You know what is a sick plot twist in parenting…..every kid is different even within one family. What works for one doesn’t work for the other. Dang it, I thought I had it down with the first then the next four came and each one is as unique as the previous sibling. Love really does cover a multitude of sins. And I am ever grateful that my kids love me and it covers the many failings that occur in parenting. I wholly agree that we need to get out of the competition business when it comes to supporting our peers in parenting. Everyone trying to be the best in someone else’s eyes without realizing they are the best in their kids eyes.

  26. Karen says:

    and then there’s my children… FIFTEEN truly unique little (and not so little) humans! Lots of mental gymnastics involved, almost on a daily basis. After dealing with the current 6 teens, I would like to think I will be fully prepared for the next ones, but I won’t be. They’ll be another bunch of connundrums that I will have to figure out. Onward and upward! 🙂

  27. a mom says:

    I have a special needs son, who has some serious behavior issues, but he doesn’t “look” any different from a “neuro-typical” boy, so I get a lot of judgement aimed my way. I can’t and shouldn’t go into his entire history with every stranger we encounter, but sometimes I want to, just to show people that his behavior does not make me a bad parent! I cringe when I read FB posts from parents that some other child at the play area “clearly was parented poorly,” thinking that’s probably what strangers are typing to their FB friends about my kid. When we first started seeing signs of something wrong, we tried everything- psychiatrists, binge watching of Super Nanny, every book out there, and yes, even spanking. When I tearfully asked my Bible study what else I could do, one woman told me, “Well, in my family we just explained that we don’t hit, but since you’ve already spanked him, that won’t work for you.” I love my children with all my heart, and I mess up all the time, but I keep trying. Please follow the advice of this blogger and leave your judgement and criticism at home (not on FB), and imagine that just maybe there is far more than you can imagine going on with the child or family that you are judging. Thank you

  28. Nancy Barrett says:

    Excellent points! Not only is every child different, but every adult brings different things to the parenting relationship as well. The parenting relationship between my daughter and husband is different from the parenting relationship between my daughter and me. We each bring our own experiences, personalities, dreams and fears to the relationship with our daughter, and it impacts decisions on discipline, responsibilities, education, recreation and many other things. As mature adults (usually!), when we have a major disagreement on a parenting decision, we discuss it and come to a compromise.

    While there are clearly sides of some parenting issues that are “more correct” than others (i.e. they are based on scientifically valid and accepted child development norms), not every child is a normally developing child. An eight-year old who is secure in his relationship with his parents and himself and has learned basic control over his emotions and behavior requires a different discipline style than an eight-year-old from a chaotic home where he can’t trust any adults, he’s viewed as a burden and is allowed to do anything he wants without consequences. I think we need to be wary of parenting styles that are clearly harmful to a child (like excessive use of spanking, physical abuse, emotional abuse, or belittling as the only discipline techniques) because as a society we do have a responsibility to make sure that our future citizens don’t grow up to become serial killers or otherwise damaging to our society. But speculating that a child who has a pacifier will be a burden on later society is just plain ridiculous.

  29. Cassie says:

    What about teachers? Teachers have “parented” lots of kids, yet get no recognition from the actual parents, nor do the parents take the teachers advice on how to help your child be the best they can be. (Of course, I’m hoping that these teachers are of the mindset that what is right for one child and their parents isn’t always for another.)

    • Sharon says:

      I trend toward parents still being the ultimate teacher (I was homeschooled, so I suppose I have a different view of that… my only teachers were parents and extended family). My cousin teaches … he has them forty hours a week and often says “HOW DARE THEY COME IN AND TELL ME HOW TO RAISE MY KIDS!” haha

  30. devnabbymom says:

    My only advice for a new parent is: DO NOT FOLLOW ANYONE’S ADVICE BUT YOUR OWN INSTINCTS…and if you ask for advice, you will receive it in abundance so tread carefully! As a parent to a child with autism, the levels of advice that I have received from “well meaning” people has been the biggest eye roll of exasperation that I ever thought I would ever have to deal with. No two kids are alike…and no two autistic kids are alike. My favorite is “I saw this autism thing on a lifetime movie and…” Yeah…don’t go there.

  31. Working Mom says:

    Yes! As a stay-at-home mom who finally felt like I might lose my mind from all the manufactured “controversy”, I finally decided to get a job (I now work from home full time.) Amazing — now that I have a semi-demanding job that fills my daylight hours, I no longer have the energy to care what all my 30-something mommy counterparts are choosing to agonize, stress, cry, and generally tear their hair out over.

  32. Excellent. Just f’ing great. I am developing a parenting system that is based totally on having a beard. Now, having read this, how am I supposed to convince people that it is the one and only right way to parent?

  33. Sara C. says:

    Spot on. Great post 🙂

  34. This is a great tool that I think all parents would benefit from reading. It’s not meant to be a “you need to do this” sort of thing, but I think something that parents would find useful in their daily life.
    https://www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/book.php?w=978-1-62024-159-2

  35. chocolateorelse says:

    Reblogged this on GiveMe Chocolate and commented:
    It is difficult to thrive while parenting our children when the world around us is screaming how right or wrong we are with the choices we make, or that we are damaging our children with our parenting techniques. Matt Walsh gets it right, “Love your children.” I will add: Pray for your children and ask God what His heart and will is for your children. Seek and you shall find — answers to your parenting questions and needs.

  36. dottieday says:

    Reblogged this on Dot's Days and commented:
    I love this post – but, seriously, I see some people doing some really stupid things!

  37. K says:

    I’m with you, actually. Love them – which has to mean, figure out what’s best for them, each of them individually. I’d have said it this way, maybe: “If you’re going to have children, P.A.R.E.N.T. them.” If all the people who caused kids to enter the word would actually do that, we’d all be way better off.

  38. I didn’t think it was possible, but I love you even more with each post you…well, post. 😉 Keep being the voice of reason, common sense, personal responsibility, etc. You are appreciated!! Your blog posts keep getting “liked” and “shared” among my MOPS friends and leaders. You’re our hero! (Besides Jesus, of course!) Blessings to you and your family!!

    Mel

  39. Mindy says:

    This was absolutely hilarious and SO TRUE!! Very well said!! Thank you for taking some of the pressure off by exposing it for what it is. I liked the point you made about our percentage of experience at the beginning.

  40. jmwhite01 says:

    This is an awesome article!!! I’ve been told for 12 years now how to parent my children. The ONE thing I’ve learned that I will ALWAYS pass down to friend when they ASK for advice in parenting is that every child is different and that is going to cause you to be flexible with your parenting. I have found that what worked with my oldest son doesn’t really necessarily work with my youngest son either. Every child is different and therefore how you discipline, raise, treat each one is also going to be different.

  41. Rixfmly says:

    The only parenting advice I want to receive is from YOUR PARENTS! What did they do to get a son like you? now there’s a perenting book I’d buy!

  42. M S says:

    Just before I had my first child (19 1/2 years ago–yikes!), when I was reading far more than my fair share of parenting books, I came across two that were diametrically opposed, but had one almost identical sentence that stuck in my mind:
    “If you really parented your baby in the way that you knew deep in your heart was right, without being swayed by what people around you are saying, you’d do it my way.”

    This made me laugh out loud (before that was popular), and I concluded this, which has served me reasonably well: Do what you want.

    Of course, there are times when I have to be an adult and show self-control, because my kids aren’t and won’t. But in the end, I think God does give wisdom and intuition for a reason.

  43. Yeah, it was really weird discovering that I was “in with the cool kids” and doing everything right, until I turned around, found out I was actually a sanctimonious pervert who delighted in showing people her breasts in public. Realizing that it’s all a bunch of insecure herd mentality on all sides helps a lot. “Oh, so, no matter what I do, someone’s going to think I’m wrong? Right on. FREEDOM!” >_< For the longest time, I'd read about and rant about these weirdo Mommy Wars things and think, "Man, you just can't win!" Until you "Daddy bloggers" started trying to dip a toe in and go, "Um, what the?!" and I saw both sides converge like a flock of harpies… LOL The few times I have seen Dads chime in, it's never very well received and I have always kinda wondered why that is. I mean, we're not exactly spontaneously becoming Mommies and whatnot…

  44. falon says:

    I agree with all this… I just turned 18 andhave a 5 month old baby everyone is always breathing down my neck saying I should do this or shouldn’t do this. It gets overwhelming sometimes. The docs will tell me something and I’ll tell th father but he argues with me every tim ejust because he had a daughter 4 years ago he knows everything. although in 4 years ago a lot has changed in the medical world. I know I’m a first time mommy but I do a pretty good job I know my son his father doesn’t really. I believe I take good care and I’m raising him right I just wish everyone saw this way that every kid is different every kid likes different things every kid needs different discipline. Me and my sister were such different babies and kids. she was an angel I was an hell raiser my mom did different things with both of us we are both are own person even though we are sisters we both have different thoughts and personality. I know I’m young but I think I know what to do with my son its just hard with a stu burn father I can’t get in his head every kid is different

  45. I just want to say that I completely agree with this. I’m glad that this has been the general swing I’m seeing online lately. More people are writing blog posts that basically say “Hey, as long as we love our kids, we don’t have to all be the same.” I recently found myself in the unique position, as a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom, to be able to encourage and comfort my stressed out working mom friend. And I basically said, “I don’t have to make the same choices as you in order to see that you are a great mom.” Along with some other stuff. But that was the gist of it. I think as a mom-culture, we need to say that to each other more often.

    I also want to agree that no two kids are the same and therefore don’t need the same parenting. My daughter loved being in the sling and being held when she was a baby. We co-slept until we stopped nursing (at about 9 months). She learned baby sign and loved it. With my son, he hated the sling, refused to co-sleep, was 50/50 formula/breastfed for his first year, and refused to use baby sign. I didn’t work more than part-time until my daughter was almost one, and the part time wasn’t before she was 6 months old or so. With my son, I went back to work after a 6-week maternity leave (though I hated it). Now I’m home with them both and we homeschool, but it’s already obvious to me that just about everything that works for my daughter in terms of learning, will not be what he needs. And so every child is a new adventure.

  46. DL says:

    After readin this, I feel I must apologize to parents everywhere. Although my husband and I have no children, I find myself constantly making comments about children, such as “We’re not ready for children,” or worse, even referencing the fact that we use chemical birth control (Yes, I know it’s supposed to be evil…). How rude of us to presume to know when we’re ready for children when we’ve never had any, and worse, to act as if all the children of those around us were totally planned. If this kind of thoughtless behavior has offended anyone, I sincerely apologize.
    That said, I find myself judging those who put their dog out unfenced near a road because I feel it’s unsafe. I shudder to think how I’d react if I saw a child being encouraged to play in the street…
    Perhaps I’m one who should just find a cave and live as a hermit. Otherwise, I fear it is inevitable that I will insult or judge another’s parenting style again…

  47. Gloria Vodicka says:

    Matt, I just wanted to let you know that I’m one of the group that read your blog every day, shouting silent amens and way-to-go’s, but don’t comment. (I know, I’m commenting right now.) Just think of all the comments you get and then multiply that by the multitude, like me, who don’t think they have much to say or add and your words have an audience of so many more. I love knowing that you’re out there saying all the things I would have if I had the time, energy and ministry to do so. In other words – Amen and Way to Go!!!!

  48. John Kelly says:

    I like his main argument, but I have a very strong objection to him not hitting the other side, and that is psychological research on thousands of families that uses factors of probability to determine the right sample sizes to provide a representative sample from which results do show which parenting practices are least effective in various cultures, including our own. The problem is this post can easily mislead a person into a free for all.

    For instance, with the spanking, he doesn’t go into the research on the representative samples of the population. He never says “so trust representative sampling”, or see what research is out there. The problem is that this essentially is a free pass that shuts down the role of society in stepping in and speaking out about bad parenting. Without the other half, it seems that it promotes hyperindividualism and a poor sense of community responsibility.

  49. Yvette says:

    Thank you! As if parenting isn’t hard enough already from sleep deprivation- diaper rash- breast feeding issues- “colic”- postpartum depression… And Postpartum depression does not just affect women… Sure our body went thru physical changes/ hormone imbalances… Becoming a parent is a big life transition for both parents.. seriously… all said and done its only been 2 1/2 months.. We love our son!

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