Saturday, February 5, 2011

Expert Opinion

Eight years and eight months. That's how long I've been a parent. It's longer than I've been a doctor. Longer than I was in college. Longer than I've known about sudoku or blogging.

And yet, it's the one thing that I feel the most underqualified to do.

Maybe it's because my children are so different. What I thought I had learned with one didn't ever seem to apply to the other. One doesn't sleep through the night so I study sleep techniques. I'm all prepared for next time, only to have a baby that sleeps just fine, but doesn't eat.

Maybe it's because at my children keep changing. I finally figure out how to keep a 2 year old occuppied, only to realize that I don't have a 2 year old anymore, I've got a 3 year old, and the games and books that used to work are of no interest whatsoever.

Whatever it is, despite my eight years of "experience," I in no way consider myself an expert on parenting.

One of the things that sometimes fuels my insecurity with parenting is that fact that everyone else seems to be an expert. Everywhere I turn, there is advice on parenting. Magazines, blogs, books. The sources of advice is endless. Most the advice comes from people who seem to have no further credentials that "parent of two, ages 4 and 2" or "raised 3 children." And most the time, I feel like the advice is great! But if these people have gained enough experience in sometimes as little as 4 years to spread along the wealth, it makes me wonder what's wrong with me. Eight years into this, I feel like I don't have the right to hand out a single word of advice. I can offer sympathy, empathy, and understanding, because I've gone through sleepness nights with a newborn, potty training, and temper tantrums. But do I have any suggestions about what to do about those? None whatsoever.

When does it happen? When do I get my "Expert Parent" badge so that I can start passing out the advice?

I'm not an expert parent. I don't know how to help you cope with your child's fights at school or how to make transitions easier or how to potty train.

There is only one thing that I'm an expert at, and that's my family. I know what works for us. Our bedtime rituals, our morning routine, our weekend plans: I know they wouldn't work for anyone else. But the point of my parenting was not to determine what worked for everyone else. It was only to figure out what worked for us.

However, I'm only an expert on my family at this moment. Tomorrow, things may be different, and then the learning starts all over again.


  1. Sort of related... when someone asks me for advice -- I always start by saying: but I really have no idea or this is what worked for us, but maybe it was just coincidental timing that x stopped when we started doing y. What I hate is when someone who seems to have an equal amount or less experience than I do gives unequivocal advice... for a couple reasons 1) why are they so much more confident than I am about this, and 2) how can they possibly feel for sure what they did caused whatever happened.

  2. Hey, at least you feel like an expert on your family. Half the time, I don't even feel that!

  3. You are not alone. I've been a mom for over 18 years and still feel like I'm flying by the seat of my pants. And I'm going to let you in a little secret I figured out a few years ago. All those people who seem like experts? They are just as clueless as the rest of us. Don't let their overly confident demeanor fool you.

  4. I'm still not even an expert on us. But I don't let it get to me. I'm more of a student of us.

    Also, I LOVE the Hitchhiker's Guide. Are you enjoying it?

  5. I feel the same way. I totally feel like I'm winging it all the time.

  6. Oh isn't this the truth. Just when I think I've got things all figured out...bam...the whole situation changes and I'm left to start over.

    We're all just winging it...even the so called "experts" and that is just the plain old truth. I offer up's part of my job, but I don't offer guarantees. I'd be weary of anyone who does :)

  7. Amen and amen. I thought that since I already had 2 girls, twin girls would be a piece of cake. Who knew that 4 little kids of the same gender could be so very different from each other?!

  8. After 10 kids,, multiple other experiences teaching, etc., I still only have an idea about what works for each child, and that is forever changing. If I had 500, the I'd be able to compare stats and find more clues on do's and don'ts. Until then, I just have to live by basic rights and wrongs (I call principles) and apply them to each child differently. I guess since advice is free, some are eager to indulge in the savings! The nice thing is that most advice sales can be 50% OFF, or greater!

  9. I bet you're an expert at a lot of things when it comes to your kids.

    All of those other moms out there that seem to have all the answers? I guarantee there are still struggles. Still times when things don't work and they feel completely at a loss for what to do about it.

  10. Isn't that what parenting is? Setting basic values and morals and taking the rest as it comes?


  11. I think you never really become an expert...and then they hit their teenage years and constantly remind you that they know everything and you know nothing!

  12. I think Ed said it best when I confessed my concerns about having a child because I'm afraid I'll ruin their life. " Kids will be whoever they'll be. we'll just give them some guidelines." or something to that effect. Still beyond terrified of thinking of being a mom.