Let’s start with the obvious: Parenting can be hard, and there’s no playbook. It’s a lot of trial and error, with what often feels like a lot more error. Well-meaning observers try to tell you how you’re doing it all wrong—from your mother-in-law to your neighbor to mommy blogs with contradictory instructions on how to cook kale and help, or not, with homework. It’s likely that you’re one of the six in every 10 moms of kids between the ages of 0 to 5 who have been criticized about your parenting style.
All that noise might make you think that you’re screwing up your kids. But science tells us that, from the moment a child is born, moms do a lot to help their babies grow up strong, confident and happy—often without even realizing it. Consider the following:
- may be as important as food.
So let’s celebrate the beautifully messy, impossible-to-optimize thing we call parenting. Just by being there for your kids, loving them, caring for them, playing with them, touching them, speaking to them, and feeding them, you give them so many of the tools they need to make their way in the world. And even if your kids don’t realize how much you do for them now—if and when they have children of their own, they will.
This reporting is part of a series supported by a grant from the Bernard van Leer Foundation. The author’s views are not necessarily those of the Bernard van Leer Foundation.