“I turned out alright” is something that is usually said in conjunction with that old chestnut “Back in my day…”
However, there is a fundamental flaw in thinking that just because you went through something and turned out ok that your child will.
We have so much more knowledge and information at our fingertips than our parents before us. Why ignore scientific evidence in favour of doing what they did?
For example, my mum smoked the entire duration of her pregnancy with me, which was pretty common for a woman in 1980. Did I turn out ok? Well, I was fortunate enough not to suffer one of statistically significant adverse effects from smoking during pregnancy, such as low birthweight, stillbirth, neonatal death or SIDS, so I guess the answer is YES. But that doesn’t mean decades of scientific evidence and medical advice to avoid smoking while pregnant is wrong. I just happened to be in the fortunate percentage. I certainly didn’t take up smoking through my three pregnancies just because I turned out ok!
There is so much more research these days regarding the impact our parenting decisions have on a child’s development, both physically and psychologically. The fact this information wasn’t around when we were growing up doesn’t mean it we should disregard it just because we believe we turned out “alright”.
Our job as parents is to raise our children to the best of our ability. Which means using the information and resources available to us to create a healthy, positive childhood for them. I didn’t smoke during pregnancy because I was aware of how bad it was for my health and that of my unborn children. My mum wasn’t fortunate enough to have that knowledge during her pregnancy.
Likewise, we know today that parenting strategies such as smacking or timeout aren’t as effective as once believed. Just because this is what our parents may have done, doesn’t mean we have to follow suit. Who is to say we turned out alright anyhow? We all have our hang ups and issues. There is a likelihood that some of those wouldn’t have come about if we had been raised differently.
While we can’t change the past, we have the power to change the present and future. Our entire existence as human beings is based on evolution. We have developed technology, social conscience and environmental awareness. It makes sense that our parenting evolves as well.
In any case, as a parent, I want to know I’ve done my best to help my children turn out to be the best humans they can be – I certainly want them to be much more than just “alright”.