There are loads of things that annoy me. The sound of crunching. People who read out what they’re typing whilst typing it. Swans. (They think they’re so flipping great.)
But one thing that really bugs me is when people describe themselves as ‘parenting experts’. What does it even mean? Why do they call themselves ‘parenting experts’, apart from using it as an excuse to get onto the TV or radio?
Let’s say I am a parenting expert. That means I know pretty much everything there is to know about parenting. I know more than you do about parenting, no matter how many children you have or how long you’ve been a parent. It doesn’t matter that I don’t have any kids (looking at you, Supernanny), I know everything there is to know about raising your children properly. But I’m not a ‘parenting expert’. I’m an expert in the theory of how to be a good parent.
Sure, there are techniques that you can use as a parent in order to improve discipline; we’ve all used the naughty step at some point. But to try and define parenting as a series of methods and techniques is a pointless task. Everyone who has ever been a parent knows that parenting is an almost endless cycle of trial and error, finding aspects of your child’s unique personality which respond to instruction, praise, and the odd telling off. To call yourself an ‘expert’, and attempt to reduce parenting to the likes of ‘fit Part A to Part B, then clip into Part C’ is an insult and an offence to every parent who is trying their best for their child.
There is so much emphasis on analysing how we behave as parents that I sometimes worry we risk losing the essence of what parenting is about to begin with: enjoying your children, helping them grow, teaching them right from wrong. At the end of the day, if you don’t subject your child to any kind of abuse, you can class yourself as a good parent. And you don’t need a ‘parenting expert’ to tell you how to do it. You just need to try your best.