Family life

Parenting fails: Why it's OK to make mistakes

British nanny Emma Jenner's Huffington Post article on parenting fails and entitled toddlers went viral this week.

Photo: iStockphoto

Photo: iStockphoto

My four-year-old daughter will only eat off what she calls the “twirly” plates—our white bone china, with a delicate, hand-painted swirl on each one. We had bought the eight-piece set with the money given to us at our wedding. While we have some sentimental attachment to our china, they’re stacked along with our functional (read: ugly) everyday dishes—the irony being that the china has proven far more durable than the supposedly “shatter-proof” dish set of which there’s only a few chipped plates and one cereal bowl remaining.

Once, in a pre-coffee daze, I poured milk and cereal into one of the non-twirly plates. Predictably, Gillian last her mind, pitching a fit until fresh cereal was poured onto a twirly plate. Predictably, I ate her soggy cereal from the rejected bowl. These days, it’s not often I forget to serve my preschooler her food on our wedding china.

While I realize how absurd it might seem to bow to the demands of my youngest child, I’ve come to realize that, out of all the battles I’ll have with my fiery daughter, that’s one war not I’m willing to wage. Does that make me a bad parent? According to British nanny Emma Jenner in her now viral Huffington Post column published earlier this week, giving into tantrums is one of the contributing factors in the “modern-day parenting crisis.”

Fear of our children, lower expectations, reliance on shortcuts, losing the village and parents putting their children’s needs ahead of their own are the five reasons Jenner listed as to why modern parenting is in a tailspin.

“I fear that if we don’t start to correct these five grave parenting mistakes, and soon, the children we are raising will grow up to be entitled, selfish, impatient and rude adults. It won’t be their fault—it will be ours,” she says.

Of all the parenting sins listed, I’m guilty of all nearly all of them: I desperately look for shortcuts to make my life easier, I’m infamous for putting my kids’ needs before mine and, of course, my kids eat scrambled eggs on china plates.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Jenner has a point. In her years as a nanny I’m sure the behaviour problems she’s witnessed would probably make my kids look like perfect angels in comparison. While there isn’t a day goes by where I’m not worried that I’ll somehow mess up my kids, I don’t think my minor offences are going to turn them into the entitled brats Jenner cautions us about. I always make sure I take a step back and look at the big picture of how my children are being raised.

  • My kids are safe and loved. They have a roof over their heads and fresh food on the table everyday. Many children around the world are not nearly as fortunate.
  • They can read, write and possess natural curiosity and a love of learning. With the dismal literacy rates in Canada and the US, I put this one in my “win” column.
  • Childhood obesity is an alarming trend, as is a generation of kids lacking basic physical literacy skills. With access to a natural playground in our background, my kids share my love of sports, active play and the great outdoors

Read more: Are kids too scared to play outdoors?>

Parenting is hard work. If you make it through the day with only a handful of tantrums or use a parenting hack that saved your sanity, by all means, serve that delivery pizza on china plates. I know I will.

Follow along as Jennifer Pinarski shares her experiences about giving up her big city job and lifestyle to live in rural Ontario with her husband, while staying home to raise their two young children. Read more Run-at-home mom posts or follow her @JenPinarski.