Over the years, I've had the privilege of swapping parenting experiences with thousands of Canadian parents; of comparing notes about the dizzying highs and heartbreaking lows of life as a parent, to say nothing of the gut-wrenching emotional u-turns that tend to occur when you are least prepared.
My real experience comes from raising four kids (they're 19, 18, 16, and 10)-kids who score sky-high on energy, drive, creativity, expressiveness, tenacity, determination and all those other traits that demand an equal mix of patience and double-espresso.
If your experience of parenting has strayed from the 1950s TV sitcom ideal (one where parents had all the answers, kids were only too happy to listen, and family problems could be solved in 30 minutes or less), this blog is for you.
Given what I've learned as a parent and a parenting author, you can count on me to focus on parenting in the real world (as opposed to the land of ideal world scenarios) and to avoid the following parenting advice traps (ones that I find completely crazy-making myself):
Offering off-the-shelf advice that makes assumptions about your kids and your parenting choices (without ever having met you, of course). I've never been a fan of one-size-fits-all parenting advice. After all, if I can't get the same off-the-shelf solution to work for all four of my kids, why would I suggest that every parent on the planet try the hot new Have Perfect Kids in 30 Days Miracle Solution? Like the Have Thinner Thighs in 30 Days Miracle Solution, your results may vary.
Pretending to have the definitive answer to anything parenting-related. I certainly have experiences, ideas, and resources galore to share. But as for the one perfect method to get a baby to sleep through the night, the only method to deal with picky eating, or the best way to deal with biting? I haven't claimed to have the definitive answer about anything parenting-related since before I became a parent.
Dishing out mega-bossy advice or sending parents on guilt trips. Let's face it: bossy advice is one of our most abundant natural resources. And as for guilt trips? You can get one from many relatives and acquaintances, just by opening up your heart a teensy weensy bit. Since the market for these two commodities is clearly flooded, I don't see the need to compete here. I'll be serving up non-bossy advice in a no-guilt zone instead.
Pontificating from a pedestal. I prefer to speak from experience in the hope that something I've learned while researching my books or raising my own kids (the ultimate professional development experience for any human being) will help another parent to weather one of those dark days or long nights of uncertainty. We've all been there. Or at least I know I have.