3/10/14

There Is No 'One Size Fits All' Way To Parent

Becoming a parent has been mind blowing on so many levels. Even after the countless hours of parenting advice I received while I was pregnant, I was still under prepared. The reason I was under prepared was, not because I didn't listen to the advice, or get enough, because I did, I was under prepared because parenting is not cookie cutter. Quite a bit I had to figure out on my own by trusting my instincts over following the advice, because there is no one size fits all way to parent.

I was also under prepared for the multitude of 'expert' advice constantly changing from what is best for my child.  One day it is DO THIS! The Next it is DON'T DO THAT! It's absolutely ridiculous how many times a day I am emailed an article contradicting the last on what being a good parent is. The articles from experts telling me how to teach manners, set limits, discipline, love, nurture, educate and now more than anything else, when, what and even if I should ever introduce my son to technology, are starting to get out of control. It's gotten so out of control... or should I say so controlled... that when all the information is read and followed I would be raising a mute, emotionless, over medicated child that should be not be exposed to anything outside of a sand box until he is a teenager. YIKES!
Articles on potty training tips are one thing, but calling me a terrible mother for letting my son watch TV, play with learning apps on a tablet or speak his mind, is preposterous! Two of the biggest stories circulating in parenting news right now are; Supernanny, Jo Frost, saying no excuse for spanking; and an article on the Huffington Post by a childhood development expert saying allowing children under twelve access to handheld devices will turn them into fat detached drug addicts with anger issues.  She actually goes so far as to say, handheld devices should be 'Banned' for children under 12.  Seriously. BANNED. How is that possible? Oh, and FYI: Next to the Banned Handheld Device article is one titled, 2-Year-Old Uses FaceTime To Save Mom. 

First of all, the great spanking debate is one that will never be settled. But, the debate surrounding whether or not children should use electronic devices is getting out of hand. In an age of technology, not giving children access to an electronic handheld device until they are 12-years-old seems absolutely absurd to me. Yes, I have seen the article and the link to the 250 research papers, but, I'm  having a hard time understanding how I can be turning my two-year-old into a fat, aggressive, detached serial killer with an additive personality by letting him learn his colors in a fun interactive way on a tablet? And what about the kids who are sheltered from handheld electronics until they are 12? Or, what's the difference between being glued to a computer or a tablet?

I have written a few posts in the past poking fun at kids obsession with handheld devices. But, it's all in fun. My toddler LOVES my phone.  So much so, we got him a tablet. I am proud of that too. He is enjoying learning, I cannot ask for more. Plus, doesn't it all just come down to the parent setting appropriate boundaries around time spent with the device, and monitoring the content accessed?

I really believe the fact that my two-year-old can say his ABC's, count to 10 and recognize the colors of the rainbow is due in part to some of the stellar learning applications available today.  I love watching him fill with joy when he gets the right answer on his colors/shapes app. I can see first hand that allowing him 10-20 minutes a day on his tablet is helping him much more than hindering him. Not only is he 100% engaged in the learning process, he thoroughly enjoys it. He also loves coloring in his coloring book, playing in his sand box and building 'choo choo' tracks. I am thankful that there are so many great ways to keep my him engaged and learning.  And bet your... I'm going to take advantage of them all!



The reason these expert articles/opinion pieces go viral is because as good parents, we are desperate do what is best for our children. We want the facts, and want to share them. But to lay the facts out in such a way as to lead us to feel like bad parents for not following the latest research is wrong. If we see our child learning and thriving, shouldn't that count for something? YES! It should!  That's "Parenting" is all about.  Raising our OWN child the best way we see fit.  Choosing our battles and providing all we can to meet our child's needs.  I have to say I am 35, watched TV and played video games before the age of 12... and have a college degree, have not tried to kill anyone, and while yes, I am over weight, it's because I love cupcakes, not handheld devices!

I'm starting to realize the blanket statements about children in general are ridiculous have to be taken on a case by case basis. For example, what my two-year-old child is doing online is vastly different from a five, ten or fifteen-year-old child. Again I say, there is no one size fits all solution to parenting, and if 'society/experts' thinks for one second there is, then there is a much bigger problem going on then my child learning his colors, numbers and letters on technological device.

In addition to being the founder of First Time Mom and Dad, April is an award-winning published writer. Her work has been published in over ten countries and four languages. From books to newspapers, to print/online magazines and everything in between, you can find her work. For more on April, Visit AprilMcCormick.com

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