You are the Expert

Posted on Posted in Life Lessons, Parenting
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In my last post, I wrote that because I have spent the majority of my life surrounded by kids, raising my own (thus far) has come with very little surprises. This is true with respect to their development, crying, expressions of autonomy, and so forth. What I had next-to-no-clue about was the extent we judge one another on parenting. In today’s day and age, we are inundated with it. Somewhere along the way, it became commonplace to cast judgement on others’ parenting when it wasn’t congruent with our own. Now, in the age of social media, articles, posts, and comments on parenting pages have seemingly ramped up our propensity to judge and be judged. In the face of this, last year, a campaign to end the Mommy Wars emerged and aptly went viral (check it out here). The photos perfectly capture dissonant views in a harmonious and beautiful way. Moreover, the message is invaluable; the path to rearing healthy, rounded children is as varied as the children and parents involved.

Photo credit: CTWorkingMoms.com
Photo credit: CTWorkingMoms.com

Because parenting is so dynamic, so all encompassing, it is easy enough to second-guess our decisions. Or, because of the above mentioned influences weighing in, it can be easy to adopt a parenting practice that just doesn’t suit us, our little ones, or our family’s circumstance. For instance, a mom close to me started off breastfeeding. Due to a health condition, losing sleep was greatly detrimental to her. Her husband took on the night-feeds, but eventually they decided formula feeding would allow her the energy to mother her baby to the best of her ability.

I will come clean and admit that I’ve been on both sides of the equation. In the first few months after having my daughter, I would feel actual concern when I hear of someone electing to solely formula feed. Scientific research has demonstrated significant correlations between breastfeeding and health. And so, I couldn’t understand a mother’s motivation not to. I had my “aha” moment when a family friend, who was also a retired doctor, shared how upsetting it was when patients who couldn’t breastfeed would recount to him situations they were basically told, “breast is best.” Additionally, the story from the mom previously mentioned helped me remember how unique each person’s circumstance is.

When I have been on the receiving end of assertions about parenting, the majority have come disguised as questions including, but not limited to: “You’re done having kids, right?”, “She isn’t still breastfeeding is she?”, “My friend lost all her baby weight. Have you tried this (insert exercise routine, diet plan, health advice)?”, “You’re not going to buy a crib, are you? Why would you want to use one?”.

Photo credit: CTWorkingMoms.com
Photo credit: CTWorkingMoms.com

These passive-aggressive statements hidden in questions were not prompted, and as such, have left me feeling a bit blindsided by disapproval. There are days, I really feel like I’m in the trenches, and take immense pride in what I do for my kids. Unsolicited opinions and advice can leave me feeling confused and hurt.

Certain influences may weigh in touting their own years of child rearing as the reason, their advice should trump your reasoning (check out this great article on the same general idea when applied to marriage). Most of the time, the person who has the absolute best sense of how to teach, discipline, guide, and care for a child is the parent. Being on the front lines each and every day, we have the experience of trial and error to know what works and what doesn’t. We have seen our children through all of their developmental milestones, difficulties, sicknesses, accomplishments, and bad behaviour. Furthermore, we are equipped with our own intuition, parenting articles, our doctor’s advice, and a community of resources to lean into when needed. Because of all of this, when it comes to your own child, no one is wiser than YOU!

 

Photo credit: CTWorkingMoms
Photo credit: CTWorkingMoms

Looking for some good resources on this topic? Here are some great articles on the subject:

 

xo Alana

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20 thoughts on “You are the Expert

  1. I love your insights on parenting. I have two teenagers and a baby, so raising the little one has been a different experience just given the time changes. That, and my oldest two were premature so raising the youngest has also been a different experience with that. I think that we all need to take the time to respect each others differences in the way that we raise children.

    1. Thank you, Kori. I would anticipate things would change between kids, especially with several years in between. It’s unfortunate there are people feel the need to weigh in so readily. I agree, we do need to just respect one another.

  2. I love this! My sister and I parent very differently. We have always respected each other’s choices and I think that our kids are brilliant.

    1. Thank you Shelah. That’s so awesome that you and your sister both of each other’s example to see how well children can turn out while raised quite differently.

  3. I dislike the veiled comments so much! It seems to get a little better when your kids get out of the crib-breastfeeding-baby food stage. Wonderful post.

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  5. I love this. Mom wars are awful. I just wrote a post about this called the magic of being mom. You stated this beautifully and it is so important to always know you are the expert if your own child and remember we all do what we feel is best for our children. Wisdom from others is fine but not unsolicited and not judgmental crap that makes people second guess themselves as parents. Great post!

      1. Thank you for both of your thoughtful compliments, Rachael. I agree, wisdom is great, unsolicited advice, not so much! And yes, we all do what’s best for our children.

  6. I love this post. It’s a gentle but insightful reminder about people doing the best they can and being capable of making different but as valuable decisions in respect of their families.

  7. Great post! Mommy Wars make me crazy! Of course each parent wants what is best for their child, nobody is going to do something they think will scar their kids for life. People need to accept that everyone is different and there are a million different ways to get to the same destination.

  8. It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d definitely
    donate to this brilliant blog! I guess for now i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account.
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