Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Fog of Parenting

I'm an Army brat, so I grew up with a lot of military metaphors.  One of those such metaphors is by Carl von Clausewitz, a Prussian military genius.  It's called the fog of war.

The fog of war, he wrote, is the uncertainty a soldier feels while in the middle of a battle.  The soldier's knowledge is limited; he does not know the number of many enemy soldiers, the morale of his own troops, the exact location of back-up battalions.  Still, that soldier must make decisions.  And those decisions can have ghastly consequences. But he does not have the luxury of hemming and hawing for hours.  Action must be taken quickly.

So it is with parenting, I think.

The fog of parenting is that thick cloud of uncertainty we feel during most phases of our child's life.  Especially those early clueless moments when our child is upset and we have only a few shreds of a few lame ideas about what to do!  Those moments did require immediate action, and while the consequences were not war-like bad, if we chose poorly we were back where we started with the same problem. Some of us have the luxury of calling up friends or our moms or accessing the best and worst parenting tool ever, Google.

But, as parents--as the ones holding the child who needs SOMETHING--we're still there: at a point where we've got to make a decision without knowing everything.  It's real and scary.

So recognize and remember that you're doing the best you can with the information you've acquired and the experience you've earned. And this parenting thing is an imperfect art that simultaneously uses skills you pick up along the way AND requires you to constantly try doing things a new way.


  1. I love the analogy, have never heard the term "the fog of war", but that also might be applied to the classroom too. Each situation differs, and sometimes action is required without a long consultation with someone else. You said it very well!

  2. Love this analogy. I've experienced the fog of parenting so many times! I love your ending - we have to constantly remind our mommy-friends of this, I think.