The rise of the parenting ‘Expert’?!

What is an expert? An expert is a word used to denote someone who has extensive, prolonged experience in their field gained through education, practice and research. The exact meaning of extensive and prolonged is not defined and of course it is something that differs per field.

The problem when putting parenting and experts together is that there are as many ways to be a great parent as there are parents. Self proclaimed experts can often make it sound like their way is the only way to be a great parents which can then lead to parents feeling like a failure. All the more ridiculous if the expert in question does not have any children themselves so any expert experience they have will be solely based on research or education. Not that I feel you must have practical experience in order to be able to be an expert but when it comes to parenting something that involves so many emotions which are difficult to understand without feeling them. To then go on and offer extreme parenting advice is something that does not sit well with me at all.

Of course having experts to turn to is not a new phenomenon even in Victorian times parents turned to rules relating to how their children should behave. It really is no wonder that in times of great change we turn to others for help and information. I will now admit that reading parenting manuals is something that I enjoy doing. I love hearing about someone else’s views about parenting, reading new tips I can consider for situations I find challenging and just plain being nosy.

Another issue I take with the existence of know it all experts is that it pushes out those with very real and very valid experience. Those who did not and do not want to do anything professionally with the experience they have. Yet those parents have also gained some unique and potentially amazing insights on how to do their job as a parent. It could just be that their experience is all a new parent needs!

Keeping all of the above in mind it is perhaps easier to understand my reticence in being labelled an expert. Granted I have over 7 years practical experience, I have completed well structured and highly acclaimed courses, I have done my own research and I keep up to date with all relevant happenings in the babywearing industry. BUT and it is a big but I do not have all the answers.

Then someone said something to make me stop and think. ” Being an expert does not mean that you have all the answers, it means that you are willing and able to help someone find theirs”. I like that, a new and different way to define who and what an expert is. A guide rather than an instructor. The role of guide is something I feel a lot more comfortable and confident with!

As a guide I do not have to take responsibility for someone else’s decisions, I do not have to worry about whether my way was right for them. All I have to do is enable and empower them with information so they can make a true free choice. Just like it should be.

Comments

  1. This is exactly why I have resisted calling myself an expert! I know that I DON’T have all the answers because there is no one way to do things when you have a baby. I help parents choose and feel confident with whatever is the right way FOR THEM. I love *guide* – it makes me feel like a tour guide on the journey of a lifetime :)

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