This is the post I had planned to do second. It’s something I’ve been thinking about since I finished my first post (which was also published in the local newspaper as a column).
All parents should find their own voice and learn to trust themselves. Let me explain.
As a first-time parent I was overwhelmed. There was a human being totally dependent on me and I knew next to nothing. I thought as the oldest of six kids I knew a lot, but a lot wasn’t nearly enough. So, I went searching for advice. Lots of advice. Some of it conflicting.
I tried a lot of things. Some things worked and some didn’t. And then there were some decisions that my children made all on their own. One example was our sleeping arrangement. I had never intended to do co-sleeping. I liked sleeping without worrying about rolling onto a baby. My daughter, however, had other ideas.
The very first night in the hospital, I tried to lay her down to sleep in her bassinet and she woke up immediately. I picked her up and tried again. Again, she woke up. Now, I was fairly experience at putting babies to sleep, so it wasn’t that I was doing something wrong. She just wouldn’t sleep there. I took her to my bed and slept with her in my arms. We came home and it continued. Every once in awhile I would try to put her down to sleep, but she wouldn’t have it. Not even for naps. So, my daughter became permanently attached to me.
If I had needed separation, I’m sure I could have found a way. But I was a full-time mom by then and just decided to indulge her. I figure it wouldn’t last forever and sure enough, when she was six months old she started sleeping through the night and moved to her crib.
I made a choice to listen to my “inner voice” that told me this was the right choice for me. I think every parent has this kind of personal voice. As a religious person, I believe sometimes this is God, speaking directly to me so that I can make good choices for my children. Others may just see it as mother’s intuition or instinct. My point, though, is that there is an inner voice that we all have to help us make good choices. Lots of people love to give advice (me included, hence the blog) but each parent is capable of being the best judge of what’s best for their children.
So, no matter who gives you advice (even if it’s your mother-in-law), listen politely and do what feels right for you and your child. I found, over time, that some people’s advice made more sense than others. I also developed a confidence in my own ability to make the right choices for my children. I’m not saying every choice is the best one, I have made some bad ones and had to deal with the repercussions, but over time a lot of them have turned out to be the best – even if they seemed a little questionable at the time.