Google is no substitute for instinctive parenting
At the risk of stating the bleedin' obvious, being a parent is the toughest job any of us will do.
Raising a child knocks everything else out of the park: I’ve met business leaders who find closing multi-million pound deals easier than trying to dissuade their little angels from wearing wellies to Great Aunt Doris’ 90th birthday brunch.
As Hollywood legend Bette Davis famously once said: “If you have never been hated by your child, you have never been a parent.” The gig is a huge one and anybody who says it isn’t either possesses the same amount of self awareness as Donald Trump or spends their days down the pub.
Now under-the-cosh parents from these islands have the added pressure of being told that the Terrible Twos is as British as Yorkshire Pudding or bad teeth and that other nationalities don’t have a name for it because it doesn’t exist there.
The withering assessment comes from a writer and lifestyle expert Gillian Bridge who says parents from other cultures are baffled when they see red cheeked English toddlers battering the supermarket Amtico just because their request to have Coco-Pops for lunch has been rejected yet again.
The author believes that Brit kids play up more than their foreign counterparts because we insist on taking our little ones to pubs and restaurants - ‘adult arenas’ which are completely unsuitable for them in her opinion.
The biggest flaws in her argument are that in continental Europe bars and tavernas are rammed full of young local families, particularly at night, and also that my own desperate experiences of the Terrible Twos occurred not in a Harvester or a Nandos, but the aisles of Tesco and even once on an Amsterdam canal boat.
While meals out certainly haven’t always been plain sailing, the sense of satisfaction that this dad gets when compliments are paid about the good behaviour of my young children is worth the 10 per cent tip on its own.
Most restaurants make the effort to attract families through the door with many having enough high chairs and crayons to satisfy an entire nursery as it is good business.
This latest critique on the parenting skills of others is just one more to add to a depressingly long list. Depressing because the hardest job in the world is made 10 times more difficult when it is set against a backdrop of constant scrutiny and advice, well meaning or otherwise, from others.
If we listened to every academic or read every book on the fabled art of toddler taming then we would be too terrified to leave the house each day. The market for advice has never been greater as overstretched mums and dads toil with the pressures of living up to the perception of what makes a good parent.
Dare I say it but this current generation, my generation, is the most scrutinised group of parents in living memory. I am not saying that we have it tougher than our grandparents who raised their families while getting to grips with rationing and an economy ravaged by war.
But we are up against a wall of information which can be accessed at any time of time of day. Expert advice, especially when delivered to one’s phone in your hour of need by Mr Google, is welcomed but you really can’t beat the gut instinct of a parent, one who knows their own child.