Thursday, July 27, 2006

Do you know or just think you know about parenting?

"Make it a rule of life never to regret and never to look back.
Regret is an appalling waste of energy; you can't build on it;
it's only good for wallowing in."
- Katherine Mansfield

Regret is a form of self punishment. It's a form of turture which never ends because people who regret never completely forgive themselves.

Somehow, through my childhood, I must have heard enough people express regret over so many things that as a teenager I decided to live in such a way that I would never have to regret anything.

And I've never regretted it.

I have, however, continued to hear many people who have expressed regret about so many things in their lives. Most often their regret involves things they should have done with or said to people they love, but who died before they got around to it.

Some regret that they did not follow their dreams of being something their parents talked them out of doing.

If I have regret of any kind, it's regret that I didn't know more about what I should have known to competently and confidently be a father to my children. Everything I knew about parenting, I learned from my parents and grandparents. Which was nearly nothing, as I grew up in feral conditions without love, guidance, caring or anyone to help me through my social and emotional development.

I learned about what a child needs by paying attention to children when I was an adult. Most adults have a majority of their childhood needs satisfied, which is why they tend to take them for granted when they become parents. I had to learn them from nothing, as an adult.

My children will never learn what I have learned about child development, which is far more than even most sociologists specializing in education know. They will never know because I have been denied the opportunity to teach them. They teach their own growing children without any influence from me or from their now-dead mother or their deceased grandparents.

I will never know my grandchildren and never again have the opportunity to try my best to be a good father. My grandhchildren have been told that I am dead. I failed to meet their needs that badly.

Nature does not provide enough information to us about parenting. Through my experience as a classroom teacher as well as a teacher and mentor of adults, I have learned that many, perhaps a majority, of young adults become parents without knowing much about parenting other than what they learned by watching their own.

I can't regret what I did as a father because I tried my very best in the absence of knowledge about parenting. Even today few good books tell young adults what children need to assist with their social and emotional development. They teach about intellectual and physical development mostly.

I have vowed to teach others what I have learned. I will not be dissuaded by people who don't know what they are talking about, are comfortable with their own ignorance and don't want anyone to tell them different.

I will not regret having missed the opportunity to teach the extraordinary knowledge I have learned. I will teach those who want to learn. As many as I can. For as long as I can.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' an essential handbook for parents and teachers, with a title that sounds far more academic than the writing style of the book. It's a book that everyone can read comfortably.
Learn more about the book at

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