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What Parenting is Supposed to Be

Jennifer Senior (1)

That is the quote I took away from Jennifer Senior’s TED Talk on the High Bar of Parenting Happiness.

I’ve been incubating this little egg of a statement for months now, like a good, hard riddle.

The topic has been tantalizing me as I’ve rattled around in my thought-lab, setting the bones of Parent by Magic.

What Parenting is” has been ticking like a metronome in the background as I’ve worked; as my Vision has taken on layer upon layer of rosy sinew and ruddy flesh.

I do have a Vision.  A philosophy of parenting.  A manifesto about what children are and what they need. As well as a Mission to see parents fall in love with their parenting life.

I do have this parenting ‘style’ and steady North Star to guide me.

I have my personal experience and ancient research and years of salient advice that I’ve acquired from the lips of my personal fairy godmother (a wisest-of-the-wise, Waldorf educator and mentor).

But isn’t it fascinating and true…

that Parenting as we know it is “still under construction,” because “modern childhood was invented less than seventy years ago”?

That we are all flying by the seat of our sweet denim osh-kosh, figuring it out as we go?!

That’s what Jennifer Senior’s  book, “All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood” is all about, and I love it.

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We still don’t have a new set of scripts to guide us through.  

Normlessness is a very tricky thing.  

It almost guarantees some level of personal and cultural distress.”

-Jennifer Senior


I happen to love that we are pioneers on the virgin plains of a Brave New World.

I love how it throws us deep, deep upon our innermost resources and challenges us to conquer the Storm that is Norm.

This is the kind of ride I was born to strap myself to the mast for.

Some parents of this age will develop a reflex ~ a gesture so subtle and automatic that we won’t even realize it has become our modern form of Prayer, our way of reading the tea leaves.  We will turn to Google Search and its prophets for our parenting answers…advice…and security.

That is fine.  Information and convenience have their place.

But there are those like Jennifer Senior who will go where the real grappling is.  Go and carve up some fresh ground.

Instead of offering up questions that auto-populate in search engine boxes, the more investigative among us will keep our high calibre Questions burning.  We will hold them as kerosene lamps because we are aware of what we are: sojourning pilgrims in an uncharted land.


I am a humble pilgrim.

I am intimate with my need.

I am in awe of the vastness of this territory

and the valour of my task.

I know my land

and I am good at what I do.

I love my work.

I parent by experiment; I parent by feel; I parent by faith.

I rely on miracles.

And I raise these children…

as if by Magic.

Because out here in the wilderness, that’s what actually works.


I’m not looking for “followers.”  I’m looking for fellow pioneers.

If that’s you, hitch up your wagon.  Fill in your email address below…

Share, comment, keep on reading, and I’ll see you on the trails!





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