Parenting – time to ditch the guilt

 In Parenting

Today’s post may be the most important one I’m writing for parents.

It is a reminder of what our children really need, because the message we hear from everywhere is that we cannot ever rest unless we are perfect parents; yet trying to do just that only sets us up to feel like we’re always falling short, constantly failing.

The reality is that children need only 3 things:

  • to be loved
  • to be fed
  • to have the opportunity to learn.

Full stop.

Oh, I can already hear the dissenting voices… what about music? what about sports? what about art?

Sure, if you have time and money to spare, and your kids are keen, there is nothing wrong with extra stuff. But please stop believing those are necessities – they are not. They are luxuries.

As for keeping them safe – which has also become an obsessional undertaking in our society – bear in mind that trial and error is a very important component of learning. Sure, it is a good idea to intervene when they start building home-made pipe rockets, or to keep an eye on them from afar at the playground, so they don’t leave on their own. But getting hurt (not killed!) is not a bad thing – it’s actually a most efficient learning tool.

Do I sound outrageous? I guess my work has given me a different perspective, hearing stories of unimaginable pain and abuse. When toilet training means chaining a toddler to a toilet for 36 hours. When a 5-year old has to forage in the streets for food. When an 11-year old is hooked on heroin.

So if you are a normal parent, one who loves and feeds your children, and keeps them safe and sends them to school, it’s time to ditch the guilt: you are doing an excellent job.

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