May 19, 2010 / 7:51 AM / 9 years ago

Stressing to do the best for the kids? Don't, expert says

SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - Here’s some advice for all those stressed-out, overwhelmed parents trying raise their kids according to the experts, from an expert: you’re going to mess up, so get over it, relax and enjoy the process.

Clinical psychologist Nigel Latta’s words of wisdom are the basis of a new book, “Politically Incorrect Parenting”, which starts out saying there are way too many parenting books, and even more advice, out there, most of which parents should ignore.

Latta, a bestselling author in his native Australia and TV show host who specializes in working with children with behavioral problems, is a father of two boys aged 10 and 7.

He said that most parents were overly, and unnecessarily, worried about damaging their children, and yet the first step to becoming a better parent was to let go of that fear.

“We need far less advice. We have too much advice. So what do I do? I write an advice book so that people listen,” he told Reuters in a recent interview.

“Modern parents just want to do the best, but we Google stuff and end up with 26 million things that say if you don’t raise your kids this way, they’ll end up ugly, stupid and not have a decent job. If only people would calm down!”

Latta believes that sometime between the 1980s and 1990s, the whole “modern parenting” ideology took over, bringing with it truckloads of guilt and anxiety to parents who are “assailed with new information about all the stuff we’re doing wrong and all the stuff that could go wrong”.

But a lot of that paranoia is unfounded, he said, and driven partly by companies that sell baby items that our parents never needed, such as special bedding and state-of-the-art strollers.

And this fear feeds into the children, making them more anxious, and less likely to do well, he said.

“We’ve become paranoid parents. We hear about scary things a lot more than in the old days, and fear is great, from a commercial point of view, because it makes people buy stuff.

“We’ve become such a risk-averse society when it comes to children. But the crazier you are, the less well they tend to do. The happier you are, they happier they are. So you must stay sane at all costs.”

The solution? According to Latta, let your children make mistakes, let them fall and get dirty, and most importantly, have a lot more faith in them — and in yourself.

“Everything has become so bloody complicated,” he writes in the book. “Many of the simple pleasures are being eroded away because we’re so frightened, anxious, and self-doubting.”

“Here’s the thing though: we all screw it up in one way or the other. We’re parents. That’s our job. Just like we have to survive our kids, they have to survive us. And if they make it past us, then they’ll probably be fine,” he said.

Editing by Sugita Katyal

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