‘Metric Parenting’ and other ‘tactics’ Millennials must heed

Parenting tactics. Too many words on parenting tactics. Plus, “tactics” make parenting sound like going into war. Parenting should be a beautiful experience, a conversation with your children, and with yourself, over decades. Not about getting the upper ground.

Here’s a new tactic: “Metric Parenting,” by author Reva Seth in her book “The MomShift: Women Share Their Stories of Career Success After Having Children.”

In an opinion in Slate, Elissa Strauss notes that Seth interviewed more than 500 parents and found that the most successful ones planned their parenting like they planned their workdays: establish actionable goals, plot the necessary steps to meet those goals, execute and record progress. Change and tinker as always. Parents who looked at parenting through a more organized, structured prism – who were using the Metric Parenting tactic – reported feeling ultimately happier.

Closely associated to this is what Brigid Schulte recommends in “Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time.” Her system is to think more in the “now” – divide time into chunks and concentrate on what is being done in that moment.

As Strauss’ opinion says, and I agree, parenting is much more fluid than anything we can structure into chunks, or even organize as much as possible. But I worry about new Millennial parents – raised in a tech culture, shown various methods to organize and control their lives down to the finest pixel, and certainly more informed about true metrics than any previous generation.

A few years ago we started hearing about “Spreadsheet Parenting,” in which parents record on spreadsheets everything that has to be done, and is done. The spreadsheets are readily available and can reveal data that could help parents adjust as their kids age. Parents were starting this practice even before childbirth.

This is dangerous. Structuring every detail of a child’s life causes paranoia for all parties and interrupts the nature of human development. Nothing about raising a child is ever normal or perfect, so there’s no reason to plan everything out.

Is it worth it to simply record what happens? Maybe, but we have journals and doctor visits for those things. Usually if you tell yourself – and experience – enough information about your child’s development, you remember what happened, which kicks intuition into gear when anticipation is present. If you have to stop and record everything that happens, that experience gets dulled … and your place in the moment gets dulled. That may not cause future anticipation, which means no intuition, which means potentially bad outcomes.

Again, parenting is a conversation over decades, not some deeply budgeted work project.

I do think being more in the moment, more present in the now, is a beneficial takeaway. Especially as parents now believe their kids have to be at some activity every day (sports, dance, theater, whatever), having the ability to slow down the moment and appreciate what’s happening then and there is extremely important and necessary in developing your child’s sense of self.

Millennial parents need to heed the warnings about all of these parenting tactics. You can read everything out there, spend hours on blogs and attempt to know the perfect method of parenting. You won’t know it. Nothing will prepare you. All that matters is the person in front of you, the one who needs your care and assistance. If you treat parenting like a conversation between you and the one who needs your care and assistance, you’re much better off than if you go into each moment attempting to understand the risk, reward and surplus value of every potential decision.

Stay fluid, parents, and try to be more in the moment.

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