I have a confession to make. I am extremely sensitive about my parenting skills. I attribute this to the fact that I tried for so many years to get pregnant that I promised myself and God that if He would just give me a baby, I’d be the best darned parent in the Crescent City. My little plan would have been a cinch to carry out if I had adopted a goldfish, but God wanted to test my abilities and blessed me with not one, but two, real live human beings; and if that wasn’t challenging enough, He gave me BOYS! “Boys?” I wondered, “What’s up with that, God?” I was certain I had specified girls in my request. The only thing I could figure was the database must have been malfunctioning on the day I sent my prayers up.
Back then, I believed myself to be an authority on childrearing. After all, I’d watched “Leave it to Beaver,” “My Three Sons,” “The Brady Bunch,” and all those other shows with perfectly functional families and I always knew the solution to every problem faced on every episode. I was an expert!
So here I am, 18 years after the birth of our oldest son, wondering whatever possessed me to think that parenting would be so easy. I realize now that I was suffering from Pseudo Parent Syndrome (PPS). PPS is a condition that afflicts people of all ages, races, and sexes, and oddly enough occurs primarily in folks who have never raised children and have no educational background in childrearing, yet its effects cause these individuals to believe themselves to be authorities on everything there is to know about the subject matter.
Many, many people in the United States suffer from PPS. You know them. They are the ones who provide you with cold, hard stares in the grocery line while your 2-year old throws a tantrum over a pack of M&Ms. They are the ones who shake their heads disapprovingly when you let your 5-year old have soda at a restaurant. They are the ones who are ready to call 9-1-1 or the local Family Services Agency when you spank your child in public. And they are the ones who act like it’s easy to dissuade a 14-year old from having sex or doing drugs – after all, it’s as easy as “just saying ‘no.’”
Parents who are forced to deal with these well meaning people who suffer from PPS should take heart in knowing that at least 50% of these folks will someday have children of their own and will be instantly cured of this dreaded affliction. Just like me, they will see a young mother struggling with her 2-year old in the grocery line, and instead of thinking “Why doesn’t she control that brat?” they will say a silent prayer that God will give this woman strength and peace, and bless this energetic little child. Just like me, they will empathize with the parent of the 14-year old boy who is facing issues with sex and drugs and they will offer prayers and simple advice (but only when it is solicited) on what agencies provide the most helpful information on these types of struggles. And just like me, they’ll thank God that they didn’t elect to write a book about childrearing without first having experienced it. Live and learn – that is the best piece of advice my parents shared.