The internet has a secret. It's one of those secrets everyone knows, but conveniently forgets. No, not that the whole thing is filled to the brim with pornography. That, we all remember. I'm talking about a different dirty little secret. Brace yourself. Anyone on the internet can say anything about any subject...no qualifications required!
CRASH!!!! World-shattering, right?
Yet, the internet is exactly where we look when we need answers. And no group of people has more questions than parents. (On a completely unrelated note, the internet is a great place to make broad statements, with no supporting evidence, and treat them like facts.) In the past, a parent might seek the counsel of his or her parents, friends, or close-knit community. These days, why bother? Just Google your problem and thirty-seven million websites (give or take) have the advice you need.
Amid all those experts giving free advice, it's even possible that my name will pop up. Why not? I pontificate on everything from whether you need to be a feminist to raise a daughter to why that same daughter blames her princess dolls for the gas she has so clearly passed. I'm a sort of semi-regular contributor to Time Ideas and the Huffington Post. Come to think of it: if you're looking for answers, you would be well-advised to heed my words! I am a legitimate parenting authority, and am worth listening to.
So listen up: ignore everything I say, because I have no idea what the hell I'm talking about. Like most mom and dad bloggers, I'm not an expert. I'm just a parent. The same as most of the people who read my blog. Like them, like you, I'm just trying not to screw things up too badly in a vocation that epitomizes "on-the-job training."
As a parent, when I am struggling, I generally don't want some know-it-all telling me how I should handle my kids. No one knows my kids like I do, why would I listen to them? There are, of course, exceptions. When my daughter had delayed speech development, my wife and I wanted to know why and what we could do about it. But for the day-to-day issues, I just want someone to say, "I've been there. It suuuuucks!" In the parenting articles I write, I occasionally offer some de facto advice based on how my wife and I handled a given situation. It's generally an afterthought, a good way to end an article. If Jerry Springer taught us anything, it's that you have to wrap up your shit show of a show - or blog post - with nice little lesson.
So here's my Springer-inspired final thought: read parenting articles and blogs and take from them whatever you find helpful, be it a sense of community, a sense of normalcy, a reminder that no one is perfect, or maybe even that odd nugget of knowledge. Then, and this is the important part, ignore the rest. Remember, we're all just parents trying to do the best for our kids. Every single one of us will make mistakes along the way. That includes the Tiger Mom, Dolphin Dad, and whoever else is doling out the latest child-rearing trend in animal form. The internet is full of people with strong opinions, but when it comes to your kids there are only one or two experts.