Oct 16, 2012

Too Much Advice? Trusting Your Parenting Instincts

I am so thankful for the parenting resources available today.  There are mother's groups, websites, books, child & family health services, playgroups, pamphlets, helplines, our own parents/family and the list goes on.  Sometimes however, I have to stop and wonder if we have information overload.

I often look back at my mothers generation and her mother before her and wonder what life was like before you could just hit 'search' and surf the web until you find the answers you want.  The problem with that search button is that there is so much conflicting advice about parenting out there these days, that as mothers we can end up constantly second guessing ourselves.  Second guessing ourselves isn't healthy for anyone as it will be hard to convince our children to trust our motivations and methods when we don't even completely trust ourselves.  If you don't trust our own parenting methods and you don't believe in what you are doing, you will be left with a lot of room for self-doubt, anxiety and confusion.

There is a chapter in a book I really like called "Toddler Wise" by Ezzo & Bucknam.  The chapter is called 'The Land of Good Reason' and the general theme is that we can easily get caught up asking "how" to do things (how to get our children to sleep better? How to get our children to eat their vegetables? How to get our children to play nicely with one another?).  They go on to explain that instead of just asking 'how' to do things, we should be examining our beliefs and goals - and therefore understanding why we are trying what we are trying.   When we understand 'why', we will know which 'how to' to try and which 'how to' will suit your family and your child.  If you believe in and understand the 'why' behind the techniques you are trying, you are much more likely to know which technique is right for you and your family, and you will more likely stick at it consistently and succeed.

I wonder if our generation (myself included) gets so caught up in the 'how to' do things, that we forget about the 'why?'.  Generations before us would have had to trust their own instincts as mothers - something that i think our generation overlooks because of our ability to (and reliance on) searching the 'right' way to do things.    Maybe we need to hop off the internet and the 'how tos, maybe we need to worry less about the judgement of others that do things differently to us.  Maybe we shouldn't worry so much about the way others are doing things and, instead, learn to think about what is best for our child and family.

I am now doing my best to limit my 'how to' searches and trust in my own instincts a little bit more.  More importantly, i am reminding myself what my beliefs and goals are so that when i feel like my parenting is being judged, i can relax and trust that i don't need to take that person's opinion on-board.  Remember, every child is different and what works for one person, may not work for another.