Conflicting advice regarding raising children

It's not hard to find advice on how to raise children. In Norway the best known guru might be Jesper Juul these days, but there are many others. The advice is often presented in very normative language with plenty of moral imperative, leaving confused parents feeling inadequate. Especially when the advice is self-contradictive: it's very important to Draw Clear Boundaries and it's very important to Listen To Your Child. (So when your darling crosses the Clear Boundary - are you supposed to Listen or to implement the Consequences?)

Parents (and their Gurus) need however to keep in mind that raising children is not a branch of applied mathematics. In math, all axioms and theories must be consistent. No principles can contradict others. However, while raising children we have to live with conflicting advice - because we're trying to develop several different aspects of a child's character simultaneously. We want to raise self-sufficient, confident, independent yet social and collaborative humans. We want them to be strong, yet kind, empathic and intuitive yet reflective string thinkers. Keep in mind that all children are different, have different strengths and need different guidance, and it's easy to see why we risk missing sight of the children among all the theory.

And that's when we stop practising the principle that in my opinion should trump all others: seeing the child, observing the reactions to what you say and do. If you are able to adjust your practise depending on reactions, I believe it's not all that important what grand theories of upbringing you start from.

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