This arti­cle is from my 2008 col­lec­tion of unpost­ed blogs. With time on my hands (some­thing for anoth­er post) to read those unpost­ed arti­cles it is very inter­est­ing for me to note that my opin­ions haven’t changed much in four years — per­haps you have noticed the same? But now to my sub­ject of that rare com­mod­i­ty, the gen­uine­ly calm parent. 

If you think that a peren­ni­al­ly pas­sive par­ent also equals a calm par­ent, you are sad­ly mis­tak­en. Many pas­sive par­ents engi­neer them­selves to be that way, often and most par­tic­u­lar­ly if they are teach­ers or crit­i­cal care nurs­es or in sim­i­lar occu­pa­tions, in order to stay in charge and appear ‘calm’ while they are in their stress­ful job.

How­ev­er, if these same peo­ple con­tin­ue their engi­neered per­sona when they are home with their chil­dren they are depriv­ing them of a real per­son, a par­ent who is gen­uine­ly calm or who even exhibits the nor­mal range of emo­tions. Such par­ents rarely show enthu­si­asm for their babies and tod­dlers when pick­ing them up from day­care at the end of the day. 

I have been in the com­pa­ny of many career peo­ple, often women since they are still the pri­ma­ry care­givers when at home with their chil­dren, and on only one occa­sion have I known a moth­er who, upon return­ing home from work, became what I call ‘a true moth­er’ to her chil­dren; she was a calm and respon­si­ble moth­er. Yet even her chil­dren exhib­it­ed char­ac­ter­is­tics which indi­cat­ed to me a poor lev­el of child­care whilst the par­ents were work­ing — flat head syn­drome in one and gray pal­lor in the other.

The chil­dren of most of those arti­fi­cial­ly calm par­ents fre­quent­ly show signs of behav­iour prob­lems from a very ear­ly age (under 3 years) and some I know end­ed up being diag­nosed on the autism spectrum.

I’d like more par­ents to step up to the plate and show a range of gen­uine emo­tions, includ­ing being calm, so that their babies and young chil­dren have some­one to learn from.