The week's best parenting advice: March 15, 2022
There's more than one way to raise a thriving kid, the line between ambition and perfectionism, and more
There's more than one way to raise a thriving kid
The parenting method RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers), which encourages parents to let children "lead the caregiving process," is trending again, which makes it a good time to point out that "there are numerous ways to raise thriving kids," writes Jessica Grose in The New York Times. Broadly speaking, experts favor "authoritative parenting," which pairs nurturing and support with firm boundaries, but there are many ways to authoritatively parent that can borrow from any number of methods. So parents shouldn't sweat it if an attempt at RIE (or any other parenting method, for that matter) doesn't go well. And no method will fully eradicate the frustration that often goes along with raising a human. "Every single day, you might feel frustration, rage, deep love, wistfulness, and boredom, and sometimes you'll feel a complicated mess of these feelings — none of which make you a 'good' or 'bad' parent," writes Grose.
The line between ambition and perfectionism
The difference between ambition and perfectionism is subtle but important, writes Jennifer Breheny Wallace in The Washington Post. "While healthy achievers enjoy striving for excellence and cope well with setbacks, perfectionists are motivated by a fear of failure and reach for high goals in an effort to prove their worth to others." The former leads to success; the latter, to anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. To combat perfectionism, which is on the rise among young people, parents should help their children build awareness of perfectionist thought patterns, and ensure kids understand that feeling negative emotions occasionally is normal. Parents can also encourage their children to practice self-compassion by modeling healthy coping in response to their own mistakes. "Modeling for your children how you cope with mistakes and failures is critical to fostering healthy coping skills in them," Wallace writes.
Does pregnancy change your brain?
Plenty of women report experiencing brain fog during pregnancy, but does pregnancy actually change your brain? "The truth is no one knows," writes Kimberly Zapata in Parents. Some studies suggest the brain shrinks during pregnancy, while others show evidence of gray matter reduction, and still others insist pregnancy causes no changes to the brain's shape or structure. And while there is evidence that pregnant people struggle with memory loss, as well as cognitive and executive functioning, these may be caused by other symptoms of pregnancy, such as hormonal changes, sleep deprivation, and anxiety or stress.
What to do when your partner has a different parenting philosophy
It's not uncommon for couples to have opposing parenting philosophies, and with solid communication, it's not necessarily a problem, writes Tonilyn Hornung in The Washington Post. "The problem is when the conflict becomes more about who's wrong and who's right, and not the parenting issue at hand," says clinical and child psychologist Katie Smith. Parents aiming to keep differences in check should resolve not to undermine each other's parenting. "It is of the utmost importance to become a 'united parenting front,'" says psychologist Supatra Tovar. If conflict arises, recognizing that there is no "correct" way to parent can ease the pressure to reach an agreement. Instead, try to think of your partner's differences as an asset rather than a weakness. "Parents can define different responsibilities based on their strengths according to what their child needs," Smith says.
The power of reminiscing
Reminiscing with children while they're young may help them cope with difficulty when they're older, according to a new study, Science Daily reports. Researchers trained mothers of toddlers in "elaborative reminiscing," which involves conversations with young kids about everyday past events. When the researchers followed up with the mothers' children as teenagers, they found that they not only had more insight into how negative experiences — such as divorce or cyberbullying — had shaped them, but also reported fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety than those whose parents did not receive such training. "We believe parents' elaborative reminiscing helps children develop more complete, specific, and accurate memories of their experiences, providing a richer store of memories to use when forming their identities in adolescence," said professor and project lead Elaine Reese.