Lori Borgman finds the funny in everyday life, writing from the heartland of the US. Now, if she could just find her car keys…
Dishing out parenting advice is tricky business, says columnist Lori Borgman, but that doesn’t stop her.
Ialways think long and hard when people ask me for parenting advice. I tell them it was all I could do to parent our own children; I’m not about to advise them on how to parent theirs. The real danger is once you start dispensing advice, it automatically casts you as an expert and nothing invites disaster like billing yourself as an expert.
That said, if I were to have a momentary lapse of discretion and did dispense parenting advice, it would probably be what my mother told me.
She once told me the best thing I could do was get my nose out of a book. Ouch. Her words slowly registered and I closed the book I was reading on how to get your baby to sleep, setting it down on top of a book on getting your baby to eat solid foods, which was on top of a book on the importance of playtime with your baby, which was on top of a book on cultivating your baby’s interests in physics, engineering and computer science.
I didn’t know why my mother would object to me reading books. All of the books were by credentialed experts.
It was years before I fully understood what my mother meant.
She meant it was time to stop reading and start doing. It was time to go with my gut and become the expert on knowing my own children.
She was right, of course. Mothers always are. At least that’s what I tell our kids.
My heart told me that babies and children need the same things as grown-ups – to be loved, known and encouraged.
My instincts told me that kids need boundaries, correction, forgiveness and second chances. A lot of what my heart and instincts told me was similar to what the experts were telling me, but without the cost of a hardcover book.
I knew my heart was a good guide amid squeals of laughter, sounds of play and overwhelming love for another human being.
I knew my heart was trustworthy when it told me to listen to their dreams and hopes, questions and fears, and to shoulder their disappointments and hurts and encourage them to try again.
My mother’s heart told me that my children would learn many marvellous things from books, but how to live life, how to treat others and how to find their way and make sense of this world, were things they were most likely to
I were to have a momentary LAPSE of discretion and did dispense parenting ADVICE, it would probably be what my mother told me. She once told me the best thing I could do was get my nose out of a book.
learn from watching their father and me. Warts and all.
Books and experts are wonderful resources, but nobody will ever know your children like you do and nobody will ever love them like you do.
Even today, when our children are grown with children of their own, my mother’s heart reminds me they are never too old to hear, “I’m proud of you. I love you.”