I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times from different people: “We did XYZ and our kid turned out fine!” You can hear it in connection with anything parenting related- from nutritional advice, over methods of discipline, through potty training methods, etc.
For example, one mother once told me that they gave their baby cow’s milk instead of formula and mixed in some grits so that the baby would sleep. The doctor never knew the difference! And of course, this child turned out just “fine”. (Unless you take a closer look and see that actually, the child has terrible gastro-intestinal issues that nobody can figure out and is on a whole battery of different medications.)
I could fill multiple pages with examples such as this. And the question presents itself: what do these people mean by “fine”? Do they mean alive? Do they mean that their child has not become a drug addict, serial killer, prostitute, etc.- at least not that they know of? What exactly is the definition of this “fine”, this mediocre adjective that is just “alright” or “ok”?
If we think back to our pregnancies, I think we can all agree that we have high hopes for our unborn children. That we have strong feelings of wanting to nurture and protect our children. We don’t have babies thinking that they’ll turn out to be “fine”- we want them to turn out in the best possible way.
Yet, at some point, many parents decide to settle on “fine”. Raising a child is more work than they expected and “fine” becomes a condition that sounds attractive, that is good enough. Because researching and gathering information on what the best choices are is strenuous and time consuming. Making decisions based on ones own primal instincts and in accordance with what the baby is telling us he/she needs is hard labor.
Maybe “fine” just shouldn’t be good enough anymore. Maybe we should all parent in a way that we feel is the absolute best the baby can get, no matter how much work we have to put into it. Because the people who are “fine” today have severe depression and insomnia and terrible allergies and gastro-intestinal issues and …
If all the time and energy people spent on making their family look nice to the outside world with beautiful nurseries and clothes and bows and pretty pictures was spent on what the child needs, maybe we could finally live in a world that was not just “fine”. Maybe we could be the ones to make it fantastic!