by Greg Krehbiel on 23 August 2004
One of the amazing things about parenting is that while the human race has been raising children for umpteen thousands of years, we still don’t know how to do it. There’s no standard operational procedure. There’s no user’s manual. In every generation, green young adults go into it fresh, either completely ignorant, or with their heads full of nonsense from Dr. Spock, television or their college professors.
It’s enough to make you give up any hope for humanity. Can you imagine, for example, that the Vulcans haven’t figured it all out and don’t know exactly what to do? The very idea is unthinkable.
The fact is that parents are clueless. Well, that’s not quite fair. There are other factors. Sometimes parents know what to do, but they don’t have the energy and commitment to do it. More on that later.
But parents are often quite ignorant, and you’d think this problem would have been solved by now. After all, if you go down to the local bookstore you can find hundreds of books on parenting. So why aren’t we all experts?
First, most of us don’t read the books, which may be a good thing because, second, many of them are garbage. They’re written by the wrong people.
When our firstborn was young, we foolishly asked the pediatrician for advice on little things that would come up. Like what to do with the little guy’s teeth. The mouth just seemed too small and delicate for a brush. The pediatrician agreed and said that we should just wash them with a wash cloth. The dentist laughed out loud when he heard that.
What’s the point? Use the right expert. Go to the pediatrician when the child needs medicine, but go to the dentist to talk about teeth.
So who’s the appropriate expert for parenting? Well, first let’s talk about who is not the right expert. It’s not the pediatrician. It’s certainly not a psychologist. The odds are good that neither of those guys have spent a single day at home with a child, and the odds are better that any practical knowledge they have has been buried under a mountain of book-learned nonsense from the 60s.
Your pastor is also the wrong resource. By all means go to your pastor for questions about your soul, but pastors don’t have a very good track record with raising children. When he gets on that subject, just smile politely and read the bulletin.
I hope you’ve guessed the solution by now, because it’s actually quite simple. When you have a question about child-rearing, ask a couple families that have raised a crop of decent children. They’re the experts.
And by the way, you clean your child’s teeth with a soft toothbrush.
-- 2004-08-23 » Greg Krehbiel