Friday, 11 February 2011

Creative vs. Simplistic Parenting

Here's the question of the day, thanks to a reader of my last post:
Why is it that parents keep looking for the simple answer? Is there no room in their lives for a bit of creativity when dealing with a child?
What a great question!

And, it coincides with the posting, by a friend on Facebook, of a story of real parenting creativity:

Scott Noelle, author of The Daily Groove --a parenting newsletter available by email-- wrote a piece about sending notes to your future self (love notes, encouragement, etc.) and tucking them here and there where you'd stumble on them later. A reader commented, including a long story about his experience after finding one, while his 3 year old was having a wobbler, that said 'have fun.' 

This commentator brought creativity of the moment to a situation that many parents would have simply responded to with 'order the child around, if they fail to obey, pick them up and make them do what you want them to do...' A solution that feels simple, obvious and efficient... Does anyone have a tale about what happens when you 'just pick the child up'? or 'just order the child around'?

The problem, of course, with simple, obvious and efficient answers to complex problems (like 'how can I help this overwrought 3yo thrive while I want to accomplish anything else today?)' is that if the problems were simple, obvious and efficient there wouldn't be a problem.

Even 3 year olds are not simple, obvious or efficient. They're people, and like the rest of the people they bring complexity to the world. Of course, we want pat answers --our lives would be smoother, less challenging, less draining and who doesn't want that when we deal with everything else, all day every day?

I understand the allure of the simple answer. I love the simple answers. I want the simple answer to work --who wouldn't? What's not to love?

Well, quite simply, as Barbara Sher puts it: 
If we really wanted bliss in our lives we'd get a 6-pack and a full cable package.
We don't want bliss --ease, simplicity... we might think we do, especially when we're stressed out, but we don't. We thrive on challenges, we strive for mastery, understanding, effectiveness. It's nice if it happens to coincide with efficient, simple and obvious --but we are not energized by those experiences.
Photo used with permission (Creative Commons, attribution license) Father Swinging Son 
PinkStock Photos! by D Sharon Pruitt

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