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Parenting advice  11 February 2016

Posted by uggclogs in Life.
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There is one bit of essential parenting advice that was given to me while I was pregnant which I now wish to pass on. It is one of the simplest yet most difficult things I’ve ever been told: 

Trust your instincts. 

Because guess what!? Your instincts will know what to do. 

It’s simple, because most of us have instincts. Even just at the most basic level of feeling protective of children. But it’s hard because we are thinking human beings, and we can overthink and fret and lose sight of those instincts. 

And I am not saying don’t ask specific questions or don’t seek help when you need it. Parenting is overwhelming and, frankly, medical advice cannot be found in your inner instincts. 

But everyone is born with instincts, and we could all do to listen to them a little better. 

The point is, all the expert advice (and not so expert advice, also known as opinion) out there – the should and the should nots – have been my main cause of doubt since I’ve had a baby. 

Before babe, I was pretty good at going “meh” and ignoring the rabble. If I didn’t want to do something, I generally didn’t. I always used to say: 

“I *should* nothing, there is only I want or I don’t want”.

What I meant by that was all the external pressures from society, community, friends and family, could be ignored or adhered to. Their view of what I should or shouldn’t do didn’t matter. And their view of me might be bad person, bad sport, bad friend – but what did that matter as long as I didn’t agree. 

Yet with a woe baby, all of a sudden it is no longer me and my life, it’s another’s life. Someone utterly dependent on me. Therefore the “should and should not” discourse took another meaning. And the bad person/sport/friend turned into bad mother. 

Let that sink in for a moment. 

Bad. Mother. 

That accusation is something much harder to shake. And all the advice is whirpooling around your head. 

– you should not let the baby sleep on you. 

– you should feed the baby 3 solid meals by this age. 

– you should never wake a sleeping baby. 

– you should read to the baby every day. 

I would be feeling pretty cruisey, thinking this parenting stuff is going well for me, when a child health nurse would throw me curveballs about what I should and shouldn’t do. For example, I was told at 4 weeks that I might be overfeeding my baby by a health nurse. Yet I was fully breastfeeding and was I supposed to withhold food from a 4 week old!? And these are the professionals so they should know right? 

Sadly, much of the parenting advice, even the professional stuff out there, is directly contradictory: 

– you should leave the baby to cry themselves to sleep or they will become dependent on you to fall asleep. Or you should never leave a baby to cry as they will become anxious toddlers. 

In my sleep deprived state, I fret. I want to do the best for my baby. I want him to have the best start in life.

Then I remember that apart from the obvious safety advice (the DO and DO NOTS, rather than the should and should nots) such as do not leave children unattended near a body of water or do not let infants play with large knives, go back to that only advice that matters. 

Listen to your instincts. 

Yes, you might not have done this child raising thing before. And of course you can ask for help, that’s essential. But do what’s right for you and your baby. Don’t let the should and should nots drown out the simple joy of parenting. 

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