Being a parent in the information age is scary, no – terrifying. I was telling our pediatrician the other day that it seems we know too much about parenting nowadays. Long gone are the days of, “Go play outside, kids. Come home when the street lamps come on.” No, today, our days are a stress-filled measuring cup of quality time versus screen time, outdoor time with free play versus guided play, plus educational play. And make sure you read to them at least twenty minutes a day.
Then, there’s the ever-growing list of dangers inside and out to keep on top of. Is there something I’m doing (or not doing) that could cause fill-in-the-blank to happen? Yes. Yes, there is. For example, is my non-coat-covered child properly fastened in the appropriate direction with the appropriate finger-pinch tension into my non-expired car seat (handle-bar down) in the back seat of my safety-rated vehicle?
I mean, I have to pause and wonder if all of this stress is really making that much of a difference, other than to drive parents mad? Then, any time you do have a question about parenting, you head to the – mommy forums – to ask a question. You leave the forum not only without answers but with more questions. Why? Because a lot of other children’s mommies are trying to answer about a child who is not their own. It’s one thing to ask for support from other moms, but it’s another to forget to listen to the most important bit of advice out there. Your own.
The reason all the advice out there conflicts with itself is really quite simple.
Mother knows best.
I’m not saying to ask your mother, though you certainly can. No, what I mean is that YOU, the mother of your child, knows what is best for YOUR child. That’s why what works for someone else won’t work for you, and vice versa.
I was talking with another mom and friend recently about how we get so stressed out as moms, new moms especially, trying to do everything by the book, follow all the bits of advice out there for how to raise our children that we drive ourselves mad. In reality the one thing we need to be doing is listening to our instincts.
My friend put it so eloquently when she said, you grew that child inside of you for a reason, you know what is best for them. She said if she could give one piece of advice to new moms it would be to remember to trust your instincts. I said, YES! We should make one great big book of advice for new mothers with the same thing written on every page.
Trust your instincts. What do you want to do? Do it.
This rang so true with me. I remember several times with my first born that I doubted my instincts, which in hindsight, were always right. Always.
There are so many things we read today, in the information age, that makes parenting more difficult. So many experts out there have the latest study about what to do or not to do that’s going to cause irreparable damage to your little one. Should you co-sleep? Sure, except for when you shouldn’t. Should you breast feed? Yes, you must breast feed every baby all the time, except, of course, when you shouldn’t. And you should breast feed for at least 12 months, or two years, or three years, or five – or – not at all.
You should do tummy time except for when you should do back time. Then you should definitely put them on their backs. You should limit screen time or no screen time or show them limited amounts of educational programs. Or you should teach them how to run the TV/DVD/Cable Box/Netflix themselves, so you don’t have to.
You should talk to your children. Oh, and teach them sign language, unless you don’t. And still talk to them, like hundreds of words a day. You should feed them all the foods, except when you shouldn’t feed them all the foods like peanuts or strawberries or honey. Otherwise, feed them all the foods, but cut the grapes and hot dogs. (Of course, who feeds their children hot dogs with all those chemicals, right?) When you do feed them hot dogs (like me), make sure to slice them so they don’t choke. And keep the knives out of reach. Then, when they start climbing, just stop keeping anything you might use that could be dangerous in the house and order takeout.
What it all boils down to is that we mothers must stop doubting ourselves and just do what we believe is best for our children. Feel free to ask for advice from people you trust, but take that unsolicited advice with a rim of salt on your margarita glass. At the end of the day, it’s up to you and your husband (and your pediatrician if you choose – or not). Even when other people disagree, remember that mother knows best. And that’s you, mama. That’s you.
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