Thursday, October 24, 2013

Super Cool Blue Parents

Last week I talked about how incredibly easy it is to be a good parent.

It really takes almost no work.  As an expert quoted in this WebMD article notes, “what mattered to babies a thousand years ago is still what matters today:  You, the parent, are your baby’s best learning tool.” 

Uhu and Uh, Green Parents
Minus smoke-induced deaths, Uhu was a great Mom.
Parenting: The Ug-Uhu-Acho Story
For literally hundreds of years parents had no real guidance on developmental markers and strategies. Sure, they received plenty of input from in-laws; you have in-laws, right?

And yet children kept getting smarter and making scientific discoveries.  It isn’t like the Uhu, the Mom whose kid discovered fire, checked with some stone-based Dr. Sears predecessor.  I suppose if she had she would have immediately look over at her heavily bearded husband Ug, who was undoubtedly playing with his Apple iCore and ignoring the kids, and say, “Ug!  Acho should play Fire now.  Go get Acho fire for play.”

[Note: Depending on the age of Acho in this story, Ahu probably just doomed him to smoke-inhalation death.  Keep that in mind.]

So that is the bar - if you mimic or exceed the parenting of someone constantly on starvation’s doorstep and in fear of being eaten by a bear, you probably exceed it.  

5 Things
How low is the bar?  Perhaps the most five most important things to your baby’s future are things that take almost no work: 1) talk to your baby; 2) play with your baby; 3) pay attention to its interests; 4) use those interests to foster curiosity; 5) simply love and nurture your baby.

This last is, I think, especially important.  Creating a loving and safe environment allows your child to be curious and explore without fearing the loss of love or environment.

So, its easy to get into that green area in the chart, but you don’t want just an average child.  And anyhow, you want to be the kind of overachieving Super Mom you know you can be.  So how do you get to be “Super Cool Blue” parent? 

Super Cool Blue
Truth is, I just don’t know.  I’m certainly not one of them.  But I know that it is exceedingly hard and likely not worth effort for the small return.  Sure, being a “Super Cool Blue” parent might add some small percentage of advantage to your child.  But in a world where W work produces a perfectly good child (C), why would you want to do 100W in order to produce a child who was 1.03C?

I suppose stay-at-home parents probably have some small step in that direction.  Money probably helps, mostly because it alleviates worries and tends to lead to more secure situations.  But that cuts both ways, because money can ruin a kid as well.  Family certainly helps, except where it doesn't.  I’m a huge supporter of the ways technology makes our lives better, but I’m not convinced one single technology-based toy helps a lick.

In short, you could make your kids 3% better by hitting 100 of 100 constantly moving targets, but why would you when you can do just fine hitting 50 of the targets?

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