It's Not Rocket Science

I know people mean well with advice. Parenting is a little like teaching, in that everyone has personal experience with both. I wrote this post about everyone having an opinion on what it means to be a good teacher. Similarly, everyone is either a parent or has parents, therefore everyone feels like they are an expert on parenting.

Sometimes I wish that I were a rocket scientist or a brain surgeon instead of a parent and teacher. If you are a rocket scientist, you are open to critique by very few people. Not to mention that the majority of people think you're brilliant and talented just because of your job title. I don't remember ever hearing that someone was a parent or a teacher and immediately assuming that he/she was capable and intelligent. The phrase "It's not teaching," has yet to catch on.

I have to admit, it is much easier to judge when you are not "in it." It makes me think of the scene in the movie Garden State where Zach Braff's character is sitting by the fire, and Natalie Portman's character says, "You're in it right now, aren't you?" I remember being "in it" during my first few years of teaching. I was terrified that I was going to do a bad job. I remember being very thankful for advice from veteran teachers. I also remember being incredibly annoyed by unsolicited advice. At the end of the day I had to go through it on my own.

Lately, I have found myself becoming very annoyed with people's unsolicited advice about my parenting skills. Again, I know people mean well with advice. However, I also know that the lady at Target with the open sores on her arms meant well when she stuck my son's pacifier back in his mouth while I was checking out. (Yes, that actually happened. I should also add that I didn't notice the lady with the sores because the lady checking me out was trying to give me advice about how to get my baby to stop crying.) Where is that road that is paved with good intentions leading to again?

I am certainly not claiming to be any sort of parenting expert. I need advice from time to time, and I enjoy talking to other moms about what has worked for them. Goodness knows I research and agonize over every decision we've made as parents. Sometimes you are so "in it" that you need an outsider's point of view. I am forever grateful for the advice we've received from friends and family that has resulted in baby boy sleeping and eating better. However, I also know that I am the one that spends all day every day with him. I know him better than anybody, and I think that there is something to be said about a mother's intuition about what is best for her children.

I am beyond annoyed with the questions about whether or not my baby sleeps through the night, and about whether or not he is a "good baby." How sad is it that our society deems a baby "good" if he or she doesn't cry and provides minimal inconvenience for his or her parents? Under that definition, my baby is certainly not good. We are all made in God's image, and who is more innocent and blameless and "good" than a baby, regardless of whether or not he or she cries all the time?

I guess the moral of my story is that parents will ask for advice if they want it. It is very hard to be a new parent who is just realizing that taking care of a child is a lot harder than it looks. Also, don't put babies' pacifiers back in their mouths if you have open sores on your arms. If you still aren't sure about parenting advice, here are a few examples for you. :)

From The Mini Safe Baby Handling Kit