Why parenting strategies don't work: One mother's perspective 8 years ago

Why parenting strategies don't work: One mother's perspective

Parenting strategies don't work.

Why? Because mothering is an art, not a science, says Karen, 34.

I don’t believe in parenting strategies. Nor do I believe in parenting experts. I’m a scientist and after a year at home with a baby I know that there is no objective way of knowing if a certain approach is working because I don’t know how my son might have reacted if I had behaved differently.

All these strategies seem to do is confirm our bias about how we would like to parent. And yet, all the time I meet educated men and women who believe their way is the only way, even though they could not say with any certainty that it works.

I am like most mothers, muddling through. If I have any strategy, it seems to be the path of least resistance. It is frightening how little I know, and yet I find that less frightening than the certainty of other mothers. For with this certainty comes so much judgement. I have lost count of the times I had heard one mother criticise another. When are we going to understand that it is our insecurity about our own mothering that makes us do this? Because there is no right way to do it. And that’s the point.

The longer I stay at home with my son, it seems the only absolute is this: a child will not do as you say but as you do. As Joseph Chilton Pearce, the author on child development wrote: “What we are, teaches the child more than we can say, so we must be what we want our children to become.”


A parenting strategy won’t teach you that.

In conversation with Nikki Walsh.

Nikki Walsh is a writer and editor with a passion for what makes us tick. She lives in Dublin with her husband, her son and a heap of books, mostly on psychology.

Join Nikki next week for more mum rants.