We were never given any operating instructions for our newborn daughter. After a few days, the nurses at the hospital bundled her up, made sure we strapped her into the car seat properly, and sent us our merry way as if we knew what we were doing. She’s now 11 years old and is as mysterious as ever. She’s a joy, an independent thinker, unexpected, challenging, and possesses a personality entirely her own.
We try to be good parents, but in the end we simply have to trust that our children are resilient enough to overcome their upbringing. There’s parenting advice available everywhere if we want it. There is traditional wisdom, internet tips, books, seminars, and comparing with other parents. There are all sorts of methods like attachment, free-ranging, tiger-momming, and helicoptering. A lot of the tips are really good and helpful. Some of the advice is contradictory. None of it is one-size-fits-all.
Looking back, I don’t always agree with my past parental choices. It’s all too easy to worry that we’re ruining our children, though, so I’ve taken to heart that even some of my past parenting “mistakes” may have, according to experts, actually been perfectly fine or even beneficial for the kids.
Here are some offbeat parenting tips that might be unexpected. I don’t know that we all need to immediately start following these – some of it might be downright irresponsible in the wrong context – but in some families these practices are common. These tips make us think. At the very least they prove that parenting is a unique pursuit and, when it comes to the kids, there’s no single set of operating instructions.
Let them run around barefoot
Mothers everywhere are horrified at the idea of dirty, barefoot children. They might step on a rusty nail or, well, I don’t actually know what’s so bad about not wearing shoes. In fact, doctors say it’s downright beneficial to set your feet free. In addition to improving neuromuscular strength and balance, walking on bare feet stimulates the nervous system in a way that might actually lead to increased brain development. I guess my toddler is aware of all this research, because she immediately removes any pair of shoes we try to put on her.