Our children will find strange and devious ways to succeed in life, and as parents whose experience lies only in the past, we have to support that. We have no idea what the future holds and only the most rudimentary clues about how to succeed in it. I remember buying rarely seen United Nations stamps to help my job applications stand out.
Yet it is parenting dogma that our relationships with our children have something to do with their success later in life. We can raise healthy, self-confident, assertive, pleasant, kind, thoughtful, generous, dutiful, integral children. Sure!
As a parent, my goals are these:
- Get my sleep
- Have kids follow directions
- Treat kids as real people with legitimate needs and desires
I warrant that any parenting strategy I would be likely to follow ought to lead to my achieving these goals.
It’s possible too to employ a parenting strategy with long-term goals, but as I said above, who knows tomorrow? I was on the phone with my dad today, and I realized that the farthest out I can really make plans for is about seven years. More than that, and it’s just fantasy and wish-fulfillment. So many things might happen between now and August 2021. I assume my daughter will be going into second grade, and my son into fifth grade. I can also therefore deduce that I will be buying school supplies. Beyond that not much.
Now, research has shown that early childhood is important for later development. Can I realistically assert though that very conscious adherence to any particular parenting strategy will make a difference, considering it’s my kin we’re talking about? There are things that you get as Kid of Jonathan no matter what: lots of bike rides, lots of subway rides, a fair amount of reading, cats. Easy to flatter oneself with an above-average parent-rating, just for having a job and a spouse and a shelf full of books.