Submitted by Bruce Lundeby
One of the most useful books that my wife and I read that helped our parenting is Why Do You Care What Other People Think? by Richard Feynman. As I recall, there is not much content related to parenting. The focus of the book is the question of the title.
We resolved to refuse to make parenting a show for those around us. We were happy to watch, listen, and learn from the insight of others. But, we would not care whether others were impressed or distressed by the parenting we decided to practice.
Our focus is having our children explore and be challenged. It’s not appearing all put-together. Our home is lived in. We’ve yet to see a gravestone that says “wish I would have cleaned more”. The primary criteria for cleaning is 1) Is it a health hazard?, and 2) Is it so embarrassing that we risk guests not wanting to return?
Your formal desert when you’re a guest may be store cookies and lemonade. If you thought we might be embarrassed by our service, you would be wrong. We're more likely to be thinking we've done our friends a favor by resetting the expectations to a lower level. We have friends which we know love to make gourmet food. It’s awesome and we love it. If there are others in the social group who are less inclined, we hope they can relax a bit, point to us, and think at least they’re doing better at entertaining than us.
Is it possible to succeed at everything? We don't know. We're not trying. We’ve focused on what matters for career and kids and eliminated the focus on the show.
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