Knowledge is not always power.
Lately, I’ve come to realize that the two phrases I’ve often used are slowly losing their power. I was raised by a mother who often finished a lecture (or a lesson) with the closing sentence of “Teresa, just use common sense.”
Now years later, the statement in itself seems simple enough. When it comes to every day life, making the right choice over the wrong one is really not that difficult if we choose to use common sense.
Unfortunately, in a day and age of Life Coaches, Self-help books, the Internet and air waves filled with talk shows and reality shows telling us what to do — common sense seems to be on the decline.
This became apparent to me during a recent conversation with a friend whose daughter was having a hard time parenting her children. For the purpose of this piece, we’ll call this mom Suzy.
I learned that Suzy was having a hard time with controlling her two-year-old son. Apparently, this little one enjoyed the sound of his voice, so much so, that he could scream for hours. He does not need to be hurt or unhappy, he just likes to scream. Suzy began to freak out. She called her mother in a panic stating her frustration with not knowing what to do.
Her mother, a mother of four, guided her through a bit of ‘tough love’ discipline. She told Suzy to be strong, not to back down and trust that what she was telling her would work. One hour later, Suzy’s son was broken of his ‘screaming to be heard’ fixation.
As Suzy’s mom and I discussed this, it was apparent the sadness, not to mention frustration, this grandmother felt for her grandson and her daughter.
“We know the right thing to do,” I shared. “We just have to trust our gut. Really parenting is just a lot of common sense.”
Suzy’s mom quickly corrected me. She stated that it was not the case for her 30-something daughter who spent much of her time on the Internet researching, of all things, ‘screaming children.’ Apparently, she had read that too much screaming can lead to brain damage and problems with one’s hearing.
To this — with a grin on my face — I could not help but ask, to the parent or the child?
So now not only is the theory of ‘common sense’ becoming extinct, but so too is ‘knowledge is power.’ In the case of this mom, the ‘knowledge’ she gained through her search on the Internet did everything but equip her with the ‘power’ necessary to parent.
When our parents were up and coming in their newfound parenthood, they too struggled with tough decisions. There were no books written by doctors and ‘experts,’ there was no Internet for research or Facebook or texting options to SOS a friend. They used simple common sense.
And yes, there is no argument they did not always get it right, but then neither will we. Parenting, (effectively and successfully) after all, is not for the faint at heart.
We as parents should spend less time worrying about being our children’s ‘friends’ and more time being the ‘grown-up.’ Even if being the ‘grown-up,’ means making the tough decisions and hearing a few hurtful words, we owe it to them.
We hear it all the time — ‘these children are our future.’ So, I ask who best would you like to see molding this world when we are in our senior years — the screaming child, whose mother read screaming was bad for his brain?’ or the child whose parent guided them as a grown-up, which eventually led to being their friend.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.