This Nanny’s Advice Is Great, But She Can Shove It

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emma-jennerParents today are screwed. It becomes very clear to those of us who read up on any kind of parenting news that we are all doing it wrong. Parents have never been under such a microscope as they are today and everyone is convinced we are all raising the next generation of assholes. Especially those without children. Somehow, they have this whole parenting thing figured out.

Emma Jenner, a British nanny, would like us all to know that we’re doing it wrong and offers several bullet points to illustrate why. I actually think her bullet points are sound – I just hate it when someone who doesn’t bear the brunt of caring for her own children 24/7 makes it sound so easy. It’s not easy. It’s hard as hell. We all like to romanticize the way we grew up and how our parents didn’t take any crap from us – and that’s fine. But they also weren’t being judged constantly about the job they were doing and forced to examine their parental skills at every turn.

The points she makes in her essay are make sense, but they also exhibit a general disregard for the way real life operates sometimes. For example, she makes a point about parents “living in fear” of their children:

What are you afraid of, mum? Who is in charge here? Let her have a tantrum, and remove yourself so you don’t have to hear it. But for goodness’ sake, don’t make extra work for yourself just to please her — and even more importantly, think about the lesson it teaches if you give her what she wants because she’s thrown a fit.

Fine. Point taken. But some days I have to choose sanity after working all day, fixing the food, keeping the house clean, writing my ass off and also bearing the brunt of all the childcare responsibility. Sometimes I do give in so I don’t pull all of my hair out. And I’m okay with that decision.

She also thinks we’ve “lowered the bar.”

The only reason they don’t behave is because you haven’t shown them how and you haven’t expected it! It’s that simple. Raise the bar and your child shall rise to the occasion.

I hate this argument. Do people actually believe that parents run around all day, turning a blind eye and giving in constantly? We don’t. I model behavior for my three-year-old. He’s still three. And negotiating with a three-year-old can be a difficult task, when fear and intimidation aren’t part of your parenting arsenal. Everything doesn’t always go perfectly. I think hers is a simplistic argument.

Another argument is that we’ve “lost the village” because we don’t let other people discipline our kids:

It used to be that bus drivers, teachers, shopkeepers and other parents had carte blanche to correct an unruly child. They would act as the mum and dad’s eyes and ears when their children were out of sight, and everyone worked towards the same shared interest: raising proper boys and girls… Now, when someone who is not the child’s parent dares to correct him, the mum and dad get upset.

I don’t think anyone has a problem when a member of “the village” scolds their child. The village, in my mind, equals people who are familiar with you and your child. I actually think she makes a good point here, because if “the village” would understand that a mom is trying to set limits with a tantruming toddler – instead of expecting her to be able to shut him up right away – it would be a hell of a lot easier to stick to not “lowering the bar.”

Basically – parenting isn’t as easy as it seems. I spent years taking care of other people’s children, but never fully grasped how difficult it was until I had some of my own. I know people hate that argument, but it’s the damn truth. Unless you know what if feels like to care for someone who depends on you 24-hours a day, whether it’s a much younger sibling, a sick relative an aging parent who can’t do everything for herself, or your own child – you really have no idea what it’s like.

I’m getting off my soapbox now.

(photo: YouTube)