Developmental scientist shared her 'anti-parenting advice' and parents are relieved
In a viral Twitter thread, Dorsa Amir addresses the "extreme pressure put on parents in the West."
For every grain of sand on all the world’s beaches, for every star in the known universe…there is a piece of well-intentioned but possibly stress-inducing parenting advice.
Whether it’s the astounding number of hidden dangers that parents might be unwittingly exposing their child to, or the myriad ways they might be missing on maximizing every moment of interaction, the internet is teeming with so much information that it can be impossible for parents to feel like they’re doing enough to protect and nurture their kids.
“Not everything has to be ‘educational.” wrote Amir. “It's truly completely okay (& indeed, good) for kids to play for the sake of play. They don't have to be learning the alphabet or animal noises. They can just do whatever silly thing they want to do. They are ALWAYS learning!”
Amir also encouraged parents to remove the pressure to be constant teachers, offering the reminder that “direct instruction” is actually quite rare, and that kids are “extremely good” at learning through observation.
First: not everything has to be "educational". It's truly completely okay (& indeed, good) for kids to play for the sake of play. They don't have to be learning the alphabet or animal noises. They can just do whatever silly thing they want to do. They are ALWAYS learning! 2/— Dorsa Amir (@DorsaAmir) January 16, 2023
This hands-off approach can be good for parents who also might feel they should provide neverending entertainment. According to Amir, “Kids should be allowed to experience boredom.”
“It's part of the human experience & it's okay if they're bored. You do not have to feel obligated to constantly entertain them or provide new activities for them. They should be allowed to generate their own activities & ideas,” she wrote.
Similarly, Amir stated that kids should experience arguments, disagreements, negative emotions and general conflict. Instead of “getting involved” to prevent these uncomfortable situations from happening, she suggests letting kids practice resolving and processing on their own.
More generally, negative emotions are not bad & it's good for kids to experience what they feel like & learn how to process them. A childhood that's entirely carefree & completely devoid of emotional challenges is NOT the goal. It's good to experience all of life's nuances. 7/— Dorsa Amir (@DorsaAmir) January 16, 2023
Amir then gave full on permission to simply be the “boring” parent. Not the “zany cartoonish friend.” Not the supplier of “600 toys.” Not someone whose schedule “revolves 100% around your child’s preferences.” In fact, she noted that kids actually enjoy “mimicking” adults, so it’s completely okay to have them do household chores, play with “adult-utilized” objects instead of dolls or action figures and do “adult-centered” activities like grocery shopping.
Ultimately, Amir’s goal was not to bash any particular way of parenting, but rather to encourage parents—especially confused first-time parents—to give themselves a break. “There are a million different ways to be human and they’re all valid,” she wrote.
Please give yourself some patience & grace, especially if you're a first-time parent. Even with a literal PhD & over a decade of research experience on these topics, I still struggle to not let the pressure get to me. It's a LOT. So, I hope this has helped, just a tiny bit. 15/15— Dorsa Amir (@DorsaAmir) January 16, 2023
This anti-advice clearly struck a chord with parents who have indeed felt pressure.
“Loved this thread, thank you. I spend a lot of time worrying I’m a bad parent - are my kids spoilt? Are they sad? Am I overprotective? Is letting them walk alone to school dangerous? Have they eaten enough? Have they eaten too much Etc etc..,” wrote one person.
Another added: “Thanks for this!! The pressure in the US to be my toddler's entertainment 24/7 and to buy the best organic and educational everything marketed by influencers is absolutely bonkers.”
“Incredible thread. Those of us on the fence on becoming parents get overwhelmed with the frankly absurd expectations that modern parenting appears to require.…a post like this gives me hope!” commented one person, noting how intimidating these societal expectations could be for those who are still figuring out whether or not they want to start a family.
As Amir said—at the end of the day, we’re all human. Part of being human means making mistakes and allowing for imperfection. That goes for parents too.
You can check out the full thread here.
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