We live in a society that dreams about constant improvement and growth, in a society where efficiency has become the measure of success. Parenting has become a wildly discussed subject and parenting advises are often in line with this approach of the efficiency, statistics growth and passing developmental stages faster and better!
When my girls where babies, I remember that every time I would visit our nurse for a check up, or see a friend I haven’t met for a while or meet with a well intended family member, everyone would ask the same set of questions: Is your baby finally sleeping alone through the night? Is it self soothing? Eating alone? Finally potty trained?
I felt like in fact I was constantly being asked if the changes are coming fast enough, if the the growth is stable, is my child’s development parallel to the statistic average or better? Everyone would focus on achieving developmental milestones the fastest possible. And everyone would offer me tips for achieving these.
Of course sometimes these well intended questions, are important to ask, since some of the issues might indeed indicate a developmental problem that when spotted early on can be fixed..
But I realized that most of the time they just created the anxious feeling, that we moms tend to have:
The fear that we’re not doing it right.
And then I felt like I need to read more and more, different and often conflicting tips. And I realized that in the end, us, moms, we might feel lost and anxious, just because we worry that our children are not hitting these milestones fasts enough, that the growth is not stable, that the statistic average is somewhere ahead of us, and that we’re failing as the efficient parent that we should be..
Except that parenting a child isn’t running a business. The success isn’t measured in efficiency and growth and hitting the milestones the fastest possible!
The success of a parent, is raising a loved and loving happy human, who’s prepared to live in the society on his own, as an adult.
So why a nurse would ask me if my 10 month old baby can self-sooth? Why parent’s are being judged if their three-year old is still in diapers? Why is a new mom being asked and asked over and over again if her baby finally sleeps through the night? Why do school aged kids are expected to participate in tons of extracurricular activities? Non of these are real indicators of a success nor of a happy child or a happy life. They are just milestones to pass.
And while me too, I tend to write my posts with tips intended to help, I realized that the most important tip is the one I never wrote before: The one about your own parenting intuition. Because every piece of advice that is out there, and every post I ever wrote, is not as important as your own intuition. Nothing is stronger and more important than your own parenting guts.
You know whats right for you and for you baby. You know what are your family’s needs. And before reading and listing to people telling you what and how do things, just listen to what feels right for you.
While health experts here in Quebec would tell me that my baby should self soothe, I knew that this isn’t an issue for me, nor for people in many other cultures. I felt that my babies had plenty of time to learn that skill, and that at a ripe age of 10 moths my babies weren’t ready to be left alone in the crib to cry. While my family nurse would tell me that I should sleep train my baby, I new that this isn’t something that’s good for my kids. I knew that eventually they’ll sleep without me making them cry and without feeling left alone. And yes, now they do sleep all night alone in their own beds.
My good friend has been told many times by her family members, that her child isn’t supposed to be in diapers at his age of three and a half. That’s it’s a big problem. But she knew him, and she knew that when he’ll be ready, he’ll be potty trained very fast. And that’s exactly what happened, within 2 days from when he decided he wanted to.
Some kids walk later. Some talk later. And as long as the parent feels its fine, it is. Because intuition of a parent is stronger than any parenting tip based on the statistic and normative approach!
So while here on my blog, you’ll find titles starting with “how to” and ” best tips for” please know that these are just ideas, only ways to parent. And that I truly believe that there isn’t one and only way, and one and perfect approach.
And I think that if you feel anxious and bad after reading parenting tips, it might be because they are against your own gut and your own intuition! And your intuition is the strongest and best parenting tool that you have!
It’s because during the thousands and thousands of years of evolution there was no manual, no parenting guru no parenting tips. We had intuition and biological instinct to guide us. When a baby cried we would pick it up, nurture and cuddle. A toddler would sleep next to us, and we wouldn’t think twice about it. All around the globe we would keep our babies close, and leave the growing kids to run outside to explore on their own.
Yes, from culture to culture, things would diversify, ( the language, the way of dressing and feeding ) but still, the human history is thousand years of following the instinct and listening to intuition! Of curse our intuition now is influenced my both biological instinct as the way we were raised, what we have been through, what “feels” right to do in our culture, and what we observed as children. Nevertheless, it’s our best parenting compass!
( Side note: Grown-ups raised by abusive parents may have their intuition set on repeating what they been through, so in that case intuition isn’t a good guide at all..)
So our bodies and our minds usually know what to do. We just need to listen to them more often. Because all of the parenting tips are only optional, and make sense only if in the first place, we listen to our intuition!