“How do I know if I’m doing everything right?” She asked. “Maybe I do need a pro. I don’t want to make any huge mistakes.”
A new mom, my friend found herself drowning in marketing materials from unsolicited experts of every kind. It started even before her daughter was born, Doulas, childbirth educators, lactation consultants, parenting coaches, home organizers and child experts—my friend thinks she doesn’t stand a chance if she doesn’t read/use all of them.
Many moms and dads are so busy with their own individual lives that they find it much easier to simply hand their precious ones over to the “experts” – usually strangers - to take care of. In doing so, they are missing the immeasurable joy that comes with truly getting to know their own offspring - through all the ups and downs. And they allow these strangers to mold the minds and souls of their sons and daughters instead of practicing the privilege to do it themselves.
Parenting desperation and lack of confidence seems to be reborn when our children become teens.
The experts and coaches claim to have the teen territory covered, too. The myth of “the expert” would have parents believe that they simply are not adequate to the complexities of parenting teens. One example captures the point: Sex educators and reproductive health “specialists” insist that their services—and propaganda--should be integrated into classroom programs, arguing that only they possess the expertise and the willingness to speak to young people about sex. However, a major study funded by the Department of Health and Human Services (2009) found that both parents and teens overwhelmingly identify a “family” member as the preferred provider of sex information. Professionals, teachers, and other “non-family” folks rank far behind.
How to Save Your Family Through Confident Parenting
Certainly some parenting situations require professional intervention. But if our priorities are right from the beginning, most moms and dads can raise their own children without all the “experts”. It takes three basic stones to build the foundation for raising a child of character —preparation, persistence, and prayer.
First, prepare for the journey of raising a child (or if you are starting late, a teen) by having a vision for him or her. My young friend’s parenting confusion, like so many parents I hear from, stems from the dizzying number of child-rearing theories thrown at her that have one thing in common: mom isn’t good or smart enough to figure it out herself. The first step is simple: shut out the experts and focus on the kind of young woman you want your daughter to become. Keeping that vision in mind, it becomes much easier to know who should be shaping her heart and what type of relationships will give her life meaning. Our vision for the adults our children will become offers a coherent set of principles and values that will guide our childrearing.
Secondly, be persistent in holding onto that vision no matter what the culture throws at you. Part of never giving up means finding allies in the battle. Identify others you trust – mentors, if you will – who have been there before; and people in your faith group who will enforce what you are teaching at home. Surround yourself with people who understand that it is God who chose you to be the father of that particular son.
Third, but most importantly, pray for your child and for your own wisdom in parenting. A humble heart before our God opens our ears to hear His guidance. Pray for a heart that will love unconditionally—and then practice the virtues that express that love: generosity, patience, kindness, forgiveness.
Trust your instincts…and you just might discover you know more than you—and the experts---think.