One of the greatest advantages that the reader of Paola Roig (Barcelona, 33 years old) has is that she is an expert in parenting and motherhood not only in theory, but also in practice. Her two children, ages two and four, have given her a very real vision of the benefits and challenges of being a mother. For this reason, the books by this perinatal psychologist are dynamic, practical and very real and it is so easy to understand what she says and empathize with Roig, because she has done it before.
It is from her maternal perspective that she looks at this so complicated it is to raise. She does it from the pages of his two books, Mother: Listen to yourself, understand yourself and give yourself what you need (Bruguera Tendencies, 2022) and, the most recent, imperfect parenting (Bruguera Trends, 2023). But also from his Instagram profile, where he has almost 90,000 followers, and from his project Peel by peel, in which he accompanies and cares for women and their families from the birth of a baby. In her second book, the author and also a Catalan popularizer has wanted to vindicate the right of mothers to err and that they understand that they are not perfect.
ASK. Why a book in which imperfect upbringing is claimed?
ANSWER. I was interested in telling what happens to us mothers while we are currently raising children, in 2023. What are the challenges, the difficulties of a moment in which we have a lot of information that comes to us through Instagram, TikTok or book accounts . An overload of information with which that overdemand that we have on ourselves appears. That is precisely what my second book is about: let’s try to lower the bar.
Q. Indeed, there has never been so much information and never so much has been demanded…
R. Since we lack a physical community, we cannot deny that it is a privilege to have so much information that is accessed in such a simple way. But it is a challenge to learn to use it and not to become an emotional burden. This happens when we turn theory into a dogma and forget to adapt it to our reality. Theory helps us to get where we want, but we are doing the path ourselves.
Q. Advocates to be imperfect. Does being imperfect somehow teach children that imperfection exists and nothing happens? Is it educational?
R. Indeed. It is that if not the demand ends up splashing them too and… What a pressure! Because the son of a perfect mother has to be perfect at the same time and that is a lot of weight for a boy or girl.
Q. What, in your opinion, are the tricks essential for a good upbringing?
R. Parenting is not about three simple rules that must be followed. It’s not about what you do, it’s about how you do it. The theory you apply does not matter so much (breast or bottle; Stivill or co-sleeping), but how you execute it, how you accompany your child. I would say that the bases of good enough parenting, which is what I bet on, would be to be available to my son, to understand his needs and attend to them most of the time, that is, about 60% of the time. Maybe one day you get to attend 90% and others you can less.
Q. One of the issues that most often worries mothers is the issue of limits that may seem incompatible with respectful parenting. Is it so?
R. It depends on what we understand by respectful parenting, because sometimes there is some confusion between what is respectful parenting and what is parenting without tears. And for me they have nothing to do. The first involves setting limits. To our generation, which has been educated from authoritarianism, this word scares us a lot, but they take care. The first limit we have is our own skin, which separates us from the other; or our house. When my six-month-old baby wants to go to the socket and I stand in front of her and tell her no, I am setting a limit, she will surely get angry, but it is a limit that she is taking care of.
Q. Is it possible to breed without screaming?
R. Sometimes it is possible, but other times it is not. I ask myself if it is possible to raise without screaming and I think that in most cases it is not possible, especially if we take into account how we have been raised. What can be done is to raise with less shouting and I think that it is part of the change of perspective that we must make.
Q. Give me an example: How do you get over a tantrum without losing your temper or yelling?
R. The tantrums remove us a lot because many of us were raised in a way in which we did not have the option to have tantrums, we were given a scream or a slap and the tantrum was over. And when you have not been accompanied, it is very difficult to know how to accompany. On the other hand, you cannot accompany what you want to end. To stop tantrums, you must first understand that they are there fulfilling a function in the development of children, understand that it is nothing bad or personal, and always limit behavior, but not emotion: “You have the right to be angry, but You can’t hit me even if you are. You have the right to be sad, but not to tell me things that hurt me.
Q. In the book he also touches on other topics of great interest such as punishments.
R. There is a subtle difference between punishment and consequence. Until recently, parenting focused a lot on scolding: “You have failed, you run out of TV.” This is absurd because there is no direct connection between getting a zero and not watching TV. That is why it is important to change the punishment for the consequence. Minors have to understand that what they do, their behaviors, has an effect on the environment, on people, on their relationships. Maybe it’s different to say: “If you take longer to go to the shower now, then there won’t be time for the story, because we’re wasting it.” This does have a relationship.
You can follow Mamas & Papas on Facebook, Twitter or sign up here to receive our biweekly newsletter.