We need to acknowledge the massive role that sheer dumb luck plays in parenting.


There is one great truth about parenting that most people take years to realise, and some people never accept at all.

A lot of it comes down to pure dumb luck.

You spend a lot of time either feeling smug because you’re good at this parenting thing, or feeling guilty because you’re crap at it. But the truth is, most of it has nothing to do with you. Whether you have a totally natural birth, whether you find breastfeeding easy, whether your baby sleeps through the night from six weeks and rarely cries, whether your toddler eats anything put in front of them, whether your child is an obedient little angel who does what they’re told… pure dumb luck, mostly. You just don’t realise it at first.

It starts with childbirth. After I went through an emergency caesarean, then a vaginal birth where I begged for an epidural, I had a friend rave about her drug-free, pain-free delivery. She insisted that giving birth doesn’t hurt if you go into it with the right attitude. Well, I guess I must have had a bad attitude, because it bloody hurt, both times, and there was loads of intervention required. I’m glad my friend had a perfect birth experience, but she may have had luck on her side.


Blissful birth? Lucky you. Photo via iStock.

Breastfeeding was one thing that did work out for me. Why? It must have been because I fed my baby whenever she wanted it, in a very natural way, instead of at fixed intervals. Oh, wait - other women have tried that too? I guess it must have just been luck then.

As for getting babies to sleep through the night, that's just a matter of being consistent and following a certain method in a particular book. Works for everyone... except the people it doesn't work for, who are too tired and cranky to talk about it. Because some babies just do not sleep through, even though their parents are consistent people who have read lots of books. Luck of the draw.


Easygoing, happy baby? That's because you're relaxed and your baby is reflecting that, right? Oh wait - research says crying babies produce stressed parents, not the other way around. Luck again.

It goes on. Your toddler eats a wide range of nutritious foods, because that's what you've always put on the table in front of them? What, you think parents of fussy eaters started out feeding their kids nothing but white food because they thought that was a good idea? If you have a kid who is willing to try whatever is served up, you're just plain lucky.


Golden child? Lucky you. Photo via iStock.

Your preschooler is a  little angel, who plays nicely with other children and willingly helps you out with household chores? You get to feel very smug about your wonderful parenting... until your second child comes along and is a biting, fighting demon from hell. Or maybe your children arrive in the other order and you spend years thinking you're a crap parent before your faith in yourself is restored. A child's personality is a lucky dip.

I'm not saying that parenting advice is useless, or that parents have no influence over how kids turn out. It is important to do your research and take the right approach and be persistent. That all matters. But I'm saying that there are a lot of great parents out there, doing all that, and not getting the results they were expecting.

We need to acknowledge the massive role that pure dumb luck plays in parenting. We need to ease up on the smugness when things do go well for us, and let go of the guilt when they don't.

Have you changed your views on good parenting since having kids?