Trained Barista, untrained Parent?

I don’t know how the baristas make their coffee. There are scales and brushes and a flick of the wrist that I’ve witnessed, but more than that… I couldn’t tell you. I know there’s training and skill involved. I know just standing behind the counter in stylish clothes wouldn’t make me a barista.

Which makes me think. Baristas have training. They learn stuff, like the optimal temperature that milk should be to release its natural sugars, the size coffee beans should be ground to depending on what kind of coffee is being made. I don’t really know. Because I’m not a trained barista.

But parenting. Parenting we’re just supposed to KNOW. Know what to do, when we should do it, and why we’re doing it. And we’re supposed to just DO IT. Do it with love, compassion, certainty, direction, thoughtfulness, and knowledge. But it’s also imperative that we do it with ease. There shouldn’t be noise. Or mess. Or uncertainty.

I was chatting with a fellow mum at the school gates. She was laughing and saying how when her eldest of four was small she and her friends had been on the Bad Parenting course popular at Children’s Centres, back when there was money for such things. She and her friends had nicknamed it that, and we both knew why.

Parenting “Courses” have a stigma. If you do one of those, you must be a bad parent. You don’t know what to do. There’s a huge vulnerability in admitting we don’t know something.

But that seems so unfair.

We’d never question a trainee doctor training. Who’d want to see a doctor that wasn’t qualified? Or a doctor who wasn’t constantly searching out new, up-to-date, good information? I wouldn’t want a doctor to give me out-dated treatment, because it’s what his predecessor used to prescribe.

I certainly wouldn’t want to get into a taxi with a driver who hadn’t passed his driving test.

Or have an electrician who was using his instinct to re-wire my house.

You see my point.

I’ve worked with children for 20 years but in the last 5 years I have learnt things I never knew about how children’s emotions work. For the last year I have had monthly classes and weekly calls with people who’ve been working in this field for 30 years. They have taught me things that THEY didn’t know 30 years ago. Their knowledge and experience (and the science) has moved on, and our knowledge with it.

But the main thing I’ve learnt it we shouldn’t be parenting alone. We were never meant to parent alone. We need others around us, supporting us, listening to us, holding the truth that we and our children are doing our best. We can read books, and they can be helpful, and can give (hopefully) good information. But parenting is complex, emotional and constant work.

A book cannot listen to our frustrations, fears, love or hopes we all have for our children. Only connection with other humans can do that. To have good information, support for the everyday (and not-so every day) parenting situations, and space to share our parenting struggles and victories is essential.

Most importantly, we need to start looking at parents who are learning and being supported, and seeing them as parents who are smart for choosing that support. We need to give up the notion that “they must be bad parents.”

I’d pick a scruffy looking, trained barista, over a smartly uniformed amateur any day.

If you’d like to feel more confident in your parenting our 3 week Understanding Tears and Tantrums classes starts on Monday 19th April (8pm GMT) and Friday 23rd April (10am GMT) We’ll be talking about the science behind children’s emotions.  We’ll be teaching tools to use, answering questions and providing time to explore how it is for us when our children tantrum and cry. Click here for more information.