Optimized Parenting™ leads to boring children

June 7th, 2019

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 train, the optimal amount of screen time, how much outside activity they should have, what kind of inside activity they should have, how much homework they should get, how many friends they should have, how to talk about strangers, how they should share with others, how they shouldn't share with others, what kinds of food they should eat, what kinds of activities they should do, the 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 Parentâ„¢, 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.