Optimized Parenting™ Leads to Boring Children

Move over, helicopter parents. We're in the era of the optimized parent. For every conceivable tactic related to child rearing, there's a "best practice." Tactics like the best way to potty trainthe optimal amount of screen timehow much outside activity they should havewhat kind of inside activity they should havehow much homework they should gethow many friends they should havehow to talk about strangershow they should share with othershow they shouldn't share with otherswhat kinds of food they should eatwhat kinds of activities they should dothe kind of daycare they should enroll in... the list goes on for miles.

Sure, you can choose to ignore these... at your child's supposed peril. What's ignored in these "optimizations" is any kind of family tradition, gut instinct, and oh, your child.

Your kid has an ideal protein target to hit every day, because studies show it leads to a higher average IQ. But what if you grew up with a family tradition of having pancakes for dinner every Friday?

A consistent sleep routine is proven to be hugely important for childhood development. But what if you're having a special movie watching moment with your kid, and it's past their bedtime? Every person on the planet today was raised by someone who didn't have the amount of information that's available today.

These parents relied on parenting practices that were handed down from previous generations, or shared among their peer groups. And we turned out okay. As I navigate the churn of the Optimized Parent™, I want to continually remind myself that I was raised with a set of values and principles that I believe have served me well, and can serve my kids well, too. There is no best value or best principle. Some day soon, my girls will eat pancakes for dinner and stay up late. And I'll be a better parent.

Written on Jun 7th, 2019