Dear Parent Trying So Hard to Do It All “Right”:
I saw you today – you were stressing out trying to follow all the rules. You know the ones I’m talking about. The list is endless and daunting and reality is if you don’t hold your tongue just right and use the perfect tone of voice, you’ll fail and your child will most definitely be a loser in later life. Or at least that’s what you have come to believe.
In this journey that you are on called “parenthood”, you’re going to encounter more opinions and theories than there are seconds in a year and every one of them is going to be the “RIGHT” way of doing things, the only way of doing things if you want to be successful as a parent. It’s crazy. I have read countless books in my 14 years of being a parent and if I have learned one thing it is this: THERE IS NO 1 RIGHT WAY OF DOING THINGS!
Some parents cloth diaper and swear by it (I am one of those…now! I haven’t always been…see…no 1 way of doing things). Some parents swear by disposables (yea that was me once upon a time). Some parents choose to do elimination communication – they only use diapers when they go out. Some parents swear by sign language and others don’t see the point. Some parents are very rigid with their child’s schedule and others have no schedule at all. Some parents never use a stroller and only wear their babies all day everywhere. Others are big believers in swings, strollers, exersaucers, and other baby entertainment or containment devices. Some parents begin to feed their babies solids (as in rice cereal or pablum) as early as 4 months while others exclusively breastfeed until their child is a year…still others formula feed. Some parents are militant about breastfeeding while others are the same about formula. Some parents cosleep. Others can’t sleep unless baby sleeps in another room. Some parents enroll their children in all kinds of lessons and classes from the moment they can sit up. Others just let their children play freely all day. Some parents…
You get the point.
Every family is different. Every child is different. THERE IS NO ONE RIGHT WAY!!
Read the books, listen to and hear the opinions of others (including professionals) and then DO WHAT IS RIGHT FOR YOUR FAMILY! Relax. The only way to do this parenting thing wrong is to give up and not do it. YOU WILL MAKE MISTAKES! You will make decisions that seem right in the moment and then realize later that what you thought would work, isn’t working, and you’ll have to change course. THAT IS OKAY! Read the books and gather the information but give yourself permission to filter that information and take out of it what works for your family and leave the rest to the side. You will never be just like the family down the street or in the next pew at church. The formulas won’t always work in the whole for you. You are you. Your family is your family. And remember kids are no greater experts at this than you! They will adjust and forgive when necessary!
I’ve had 3 kids and I have to tell ya, from the first two to my last I have changed how I do things. Oh not everything but some things. I’ve changed. My circumstances have changed. My priorities and dreams and desires have changed. As a result my parenting choices have changed. Did I do it wrong the first time around? Nope. I did things then the best way I knew how based on the information at my disposal, my circumstances and my kids. I made mistakes along the way because I am human but I have continually corrected and redirected and moved forward. I’ve figured out that sometimes things work a certain way for a while but then stop working and adjustments have to be made. That’s okay. It’s normal. YOU ARE NORMAL. Even if you are doing things very differently than others around you, you are not doing things wrong. You are doing what is right for your family.
Relax. You’ve got this. Enjoy the evolution of your parenting as your family grows and learns together. And when someone tries to tell you that you’re doing it wrong (or that you’re crazy), do what I do: put your hands on your hips, feet shoulder width apart, back straight and shoulders back and tongue out. Take a deep breath and PPPPPPPPPPFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFTTTTTTTTTTTTTT to them!! Okay not really, well maybe but only in your head…in real life, graciously thank them for their opinion, tell them you’re doing what is right for your family and then change the subject.
Doing it no one right way with you,