Monday, September 5, 2011

Discovering the confusing world that is parenthood

At times, it's hard not to feel lost in a sea of parenting advice, drifting aimlessly in a tiny little boat that is my self-confidence. I'm constantly staring down at the water, trying to grab words of wisdom that swim by. Do I keep what I catch, or throw it back in the water?

Do I rock my son to sleep so he can drift off in love and comfort? Or put him to bed while he's sleepy but awake, so he will learn to comfort himself?

Do I carry him on my body in a sling so he will feel safe and secure when he faces the world? Or do I put him in a stroller so he can learn to be comfortable sitting by himself? 

It wouldn't be so frustrating if half the time the parenting advice I come across isn't completely conflicting. To make matters worse, everything I read always says that if you do/don't do what it suggests, it will have lasting implications on your child as an adult. For example, if I practice child-led weaning and let Collin decide when to stop nursing, will I be strengthening our mother-child bond and teaching him that his needs are important and valuable, or will I be creating a person that is emotionally needy, clingy, and demanding? Today, Husband and baby and I went to a Labor Day BBQ (Happy Labor Day, by the way) thrown by my new parents' group, and it was incredibly refreshing to listen to other parents talk about their experiences instead of listening to what the "Experts" have to say. I feel much better after talking to other parents than I do when I read an article telling me what I should be doing. Today, I heard a lot of:

"Our lives are still totally chaotic. We have no schedule, the baby's naps are completely spontaneous."

"Oh, he is fine laying on the blanket right now because we're outside. When we're around the house, I still can't put him down for five minutes."

I left the BBQ feeling like maybe I wasn't the worst parent in the world, and there was hope for me yet. Come to think of it, it's sad that all the "advice" out there can actually make me feel that way. When it comes down to it, there has always been and there will always be opposing parenting advice, and parenting trends that are popular today will be totally disproven and outdated when the next generation is having babies, just like it was for us. From what I've gathered, it takes all different types of parenting to create all different types of people to inhabit this world, and the best thing a parent can do is follow their intuition and give their child lots of love. Love seems to be the one thing a parent can give their child that is completely supported by every expert.

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