Text about the embedded YouTube video was written by Regan Barnes, ChairMom of the MotherBoard at Momivate
Do you ever wonder if all the effort you are putting into motherhood really matters? One of the goals of Momivate is to convince you that your endeavors to raise your children are instrumental in lifting society. The Ted Talk embedded below, "Why Most Parenting Advice is Wrong," seems to be antithetical to our foundational venture to activate moms. Please take 17 minutes to listen to this professor of neuroscience—and fellow mother—and then let’s discuss how she’s actually in agreement with Momivate at our core.
I confess that my skin crawled when this professor revealed the final conclusion of the metastudy! I’ve never considered it to be my goal that my children turn out to be just like each other—not even my identical twins! The scientists are using mismatched logic to conclude that loving parents want to simply program children like computers, dismissing the children’s innate talents, aspirations, strengths and weaknesses.
Part of what makes motherhood so worthy and needful of our best efforts is the challenge inherent in patiently working with the individual aspects of each of our offspring. Because we love them, we’re committed to determining, through a continual, loving process of trial and error, how each child responds to various parenting “techniques” and adjusting accordingly.
By using the illustration of a butterfly controlling a hurricane, the professor convinced me to keep listening. Butterflies are so meaningful to Momivate that they're featured in our logo. The metamorphosis from a creepy-crawly insect to a beautiful creature of flight is symbolic of the changes Momivate wants to bring to the role of motherhood, as well as the potential our children have to transform and grow wings of their own.
Despite my initial distaste for the scientific study, I’m glad I continued to listen to this professor and notice that she never comes to the conclusion that the butterfly should NOT flap its wings . . .
Knowing that my "hurricane child" would not even exist without me is a compelling concept in the face of the overwhelming odds described. The fact that my flaps cannot determine the final outcome of the hurricane doesn't stop me from sending winds of love with each beat of my wings.
If my children were to sense that I chose not to guide them because too many other cultural or environmental forces seemed to overpower our (mine + my child’s) efforts, that's when my wondrous hurricane-child’s indomitable spirit would lose its own sense of ability to change the world. We butterflies must flap—first, to create the hurricane, and then continually so the hurricane will expand in its own whirlwind of potential.
Yes, moms, there are many forces influencing our children, and we must do what we can to increase or decrease the effects of those forces as we deem necessary. We can do that best when we acknowledge that ultimately, control outside of ourselves remains impossible. Outcomes, though somewhat predictable due to patterns discovered over centuries of research and observation, simply cannot be guaranteed when it comes to parenting.
This professor's final point about dragon parenting is incredibly potent: to love as fiercely as the winds of the hurricane, being present in each shared moment, acknowledging that time together is all we really have, so let's make that time enjoyable for the sake of both mother and child, not because of trying to control outcomes.
For instance, when I read a parenting book that helps me improve my listening skills with my children, I must do it for the sake of truly hearing my children, motivated only by my love for them, NOT because said book promises that the improved listening will push the right buttons and, ta-da, the end result is a robot who obeys my every command!
If I work towards goals—including becoming the kind of parent my younger self always wanted—it must be a personal struggle to fulfill my potential rather than a scheme designed to calm the destructive storm that I regard my child to be. My children’s exposure to my exertion empowers them to set goals that, in essence, funnel their hurricane power and focus it towards self-actualization. Even though there will always be myriad forces impacting them, they’ll build their own strength and wield their own power to mitigate those forces, and ultimately gain control of their ability to transform the world.
Mothers, hear out this professor's final points and let those be what sticks with you rather than worrying about or being turned off by the "science" that she refers to at the beginning. You matter because YOU ARE THE BUTTERFLY—and every movement of your wings contributes to that hurricane child of yours, even if it doesn't control them.
From the YouTube Description:
Parenting books promise to show people how to raise happy, successful children, and in the process to reveal why each of us turned out the way we did. But the science of child development tells a different story about how parents influence children—a story that may shock, unsettle, and ultimately reassure anyone who has ever been a parent or a child.
Yuko is a Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her work investigates child development and environmental influences on children’s thinking, using behavioral, neuroimaging, and computational approaches. She is an elected fellow of the Association for Psychological Science and the American Psychological Association. Her work on child development has been funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1998, and has been published in top scientific journals and featured in The Atlantic, The Today Show, and Parents Magazine. She co-edited two books on brain and cognitive development, and co-authored a computational cognitive neuroscience textbook. She has received awards for research, teaching, and mentoring.
This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx
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