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Parent Like a Reporter: Worst Advice Ever?

Photograph by Getty Images

Time magazine writer (and reporter!) Laura Stetser is getting in on the parenting advice trend and, digging through the pile of tools in her own wheelhouse, recommends we approach our children as a reporter might a subject.

Reporters ourselves, we can think of nothing worse for the parent-child relationship than persistent and intrusive questioning, orchestrated uncomfortable moments of silence and Google deep-dives on our own progeny.

But then, we didn't agree with Tiger Mom either.

Sure, Stetser's recommendation that parents take a page from reporters' notebooks and ask open-ended questions is sound. "Instead of questions like 'How was school today?'—that can be answered with a simple yes, no, or OK—some better prompts might be, 'What's going on at the playground during recess?' or 'What sort of things are kids fighting over in class?'"

And, "[R]espect 'off the record' details as confidential."

But pity the child who gets nagging phone calls in the middle of the night for a statement regarding her position on a private matter ("Who were you just texting?"). Worry for the daughter whose mom stands outside her room, ready to pounce with a "gotcha" line of questioning ("Did you put your folded clothes away or just throw them on the floor?"). Shield the son from having to face the statistical analysis that concludes time he claims has been spent on homework can't possibly be true, based on his current GPA.

And the skepticism! A reporter's job is to doubt everything, trust no one, scrutinize the details, push back over and over again. Even reporters wouldn't be able to live under those conditions.

Though Stetser's advice to be prepared for the unpredictable is good, no matter what kind of parent you are. You never know when you'll be expected to cover a fire, or, you know, host a playdate who just showed up at your door.

Image via Getty Images

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