By Helena Rodriguez: Freelance columnist
By virtue of the official title I’ve held since the day my daughter Laura was born, I hereby declare myself an expert in parenting.
Anyone who has a child can arguably be an expert in parenting.
Even Britney Spears’ mom. Yes, even Lynne Spears.
By virtue of our titles, we’re all experts; experts in good, or bad parenting; parenting we’ve all had to learn through on-the-job-training, minus any instruction manuals.
It’s a vocation that’s survived for centuries without Dr. Phil, although it is kind of nice having him around right now.
Does this “mommy and “daddy” title mean we’re all qualified to write a book on parenting, though? Not necessarily. To begin with, many of us are too busy parenting our children to have time to write a book about parenting.
And for most of us insane parents, our parenting will continue past our child’s 18th birthday. Why? Because that’s what we do best, although nobody’s going to tell us that.
If our kids end up like Bart Simpson, trust me, other parents will let us know we are bad parents, in one way or another. But if we happen to do something right, well then, we just got lucky. Right?
We may get a nice little card on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day from our offspring, telling us what we already know, that we’re the World’s Best Mom or Dad, namely because we’re the only mom or dad our child has ever known and all they have to compare us to is Bill Cosby, Ward Cleaver, Roseanne and, of course, Lynne Spears.
Even the best advice in the world does not fully equip us parents for the challenges we will face.
Some people may argue that it’s much harder to raise children in today’s seemingly out-of-control world than from previous generations and some people even want to assign blame to previous generations.
But from the beginning of time, with the world’s first parents, Adam and Eve, and the world’s first children, Cain and Abel, children have proven to be a challenge to our mental, psychological and financial states in life.
I’m sure Adam blamed Eve for eating the apple first, and I’m sure Eve blamed Adam for not being there to stop her from eating the apple, and for not spending enough time with her and the boys.
It’s easy to pick on Lynne Spears, but maybe not fair. She’s a stage mom who has raised her two daughters under the national spotlight.
The world has watched as one Spears girl lost custody of her children and obviously needs rehab, and as the other daughter became a pregnant teenager statistic. After this last announcement, publishers reportedly and understandably put Lynne Spears’ parenting book on hold.
Maybe she still should write that book, though, to make all of us non-millionaire parents feel good and warn us about the dos and don’t, which she has perhaps learned the hard way.
The don’ts probably include don’t let your child spend more than $10,000 in one day, and in the same place.
Most of us don’t have that problem. Most of us think we’d like to have that problem. Even on our shrinking middle-class incomes, though, we can still spoil our children in ways that our parents didn’t spoil us, in ways that we probably shouldn’t.
So with the space I have left, I asked myself, what’s the best parenting advice I can offer readers? I’m still in training right now, so you’ll have to stay tuned.
If I do not resign from this job before my daughter’s 18th birthday, which is in only six months, and which you can trust she is counting down by the day, then I will be a true expert in parenting; good or bad parenting.
You be the judge.
Seriously though, it will have all been worth it in the end and I would do it all over again, if I could. But of course, I’m the World’s Best Mom and I have a card to prove it, so I have to say that.
But back to all seriousness again, would it be too much to ask, next time around, for an instruction manual?
Helena Rodriguez is a freelance columnist. She can be reached at: