Getting a lot of unsolicited advice about how to parent? Or, is the advice you’re getting not sitting quite right with you? You’re not alone. Many new and veteran moms alike are frustrated by this conundrum.
My best advice is to never ignore what your own ‘gut’ says about a situation. We may be celebrating motherhood this month but mother’s intuition, that sense of simply ‘knowing’ what’s needed, is often dismissed entirely or written off as excessive worry or paranoia.
You’ve spent more time with your child than others have, which has primed you to be especially sensitive to his needs or to changes afoot. In other words, this makes you the expert where your child is concerned.
Imagine that! By no means should you completely ignore others’ observations, suggestions or wisdom, but you are the one who will live with the consequences of your choices, not your pastor, your mother, your child’s coach or even your well-meaning friends who’ve ‘been there and done that.’
While I’m on the subject, can we please retire that tired cliché? The effect can actually be somewhat dismissive. It suggests that the one being ‘helped’ may not actually know best, or might not eventually discern the best solution for herself and her family.
Do you believe breastfeeding is best but others push formula? Have a hunch you’ll be happier if you work at least part-time? Feel in your gut that all concerned would be better off if you stay home and raise your children-even if it means a smaller house and making do with one car-but you’re feeling pushed to return to work?
Bear in mind that sometimes others push because they want affirmation for the choices they made themselves. Heed your own gut feelings and don’t allow those other ‘voices’ to grow so loud that you end up talking yourself out of what you intuitively know to be true and right for you and your family.
Intuition is not based on anxiety or fear. It is a quiet confidence borne of the connection that develops from focused exposure to whatever it is that you wish to know-in this case, your child.
If you’ve allowed yourself and your child the opportunity to really get to know each other, don’t worry, you’ve got it. So quiet the voices and Internet ‘authorities’ and well-meaning grandmothers and put down those self-help books. For Pete’s sake, just listen to the voices that matter the most, your own and your child’s.
The fact is, you’ve always had the greatest parenting resource at your disposal, your intuition. But you know what they say, right? Use it or lose it.
Jennifer DuBose, M.S., C.A.S., is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in Batavia. Got a concern? If you’re a parent and it’s on your mind, chances are you are not alone. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.