I recently said I’d write a book about parenting which was, of course, very tongue in cheek because I don’t get over excited about experts telling me what I should be doing and how wrong I’m probably doing it from the pages of a book nor do I welcome parenting advice from anyone who calls themselves an expert.
Why? Because every family is different and what works for one might not suit another.
What actually makes an expert? Who is the highest law in the land that suggests that their way is the most superior way? Which book? Which regime? Will a certain way work for every family? What if you don’t do it that way?
In my recent research (for research read overhearing) I heard a mother with a toddler give expert advice to a frazzled mother with a baby whose face screamed “I don’t want to know what worked for you” but whose polite nods actively encouraged the other mother further. I remember being a new mother and being asked by a group of mothers how old my baby was so I said proudly 12 days. One of them said in a sanctimonious way “oh days, I remember don’t you when our babies were just days, now we talk in months”. I think that was the cut off point for me and I distanced myself from that group of “experts”.
I’ve just read a great article by Bryony Gordon about the baby industry and I have to agree. Nothing, but nothing can prepare you for parenting and I firmly believe that bringing up a child should be how you want it with who you actually want to be with and not like an episode from The Crystal Maze with everyone shouting advice at you and then expressing annoyance or shock when it doesn’t work.
Now I’ve got 3 girls aged 10-16 I could call myself a girl expert or a teenage expert but I won’t. Why not? Because I’m no expert. I’ve also got a car and I can do basic maintenance but it doesn’t make me an motor expert.
As a first time mother with a tiny bundle that was as new to me as I was to parenting I used to dread the Health (Hell) Visitor appointments, I’d avoid peak times at weigh in clinics where groups of new mothers would wave the red book around and talk about their busy and stimulating day. Instead I’d sneak in early and then go back to bed or to the gym or meet with friends and family that were glad to see me and my small bundle.
I sometimes think that the word expert gets muddled with the word experience; they’re very different words!