I have a lot to say on the subject of parenting. I’ve written quite a few blog posts about it as well as some personal reflective writing about all kinds of parenting quandaries. I don’t spend all of my free time thinking about family dynamics, but at least some of it is dedicated to trying to figure out kids and their parents. And up to now, I have relied on all of my experiences and learning to try and solve parental problems. But some things have changed.
As of the 20th of October, I became a parent for the first time (and I’ve been weighing in on parenting all this time?!). So while my parenting responsibility at this time mainly consists of changing diapers and being a food source, I am now faced with the question of whether I should rely on my experiences or my instincts when dealing with any parenting problems that I come across. I realize that I might be jumping the gun a little bit when it comes to my own child, but balancing the theories that we read and our own gut feelings are things that parents have to do on a regular basis.
Just as babies are born with certain instincts (rooting, startle reflex, etc.), we grown-ups also seem to rely on certain instincts when it comes to kids. We have a certain voice that we use to talk to young kids. We shush babies without being told that it soothes them. We want to hold our kids and rock them when they’re upset.
I’m already feeling a tug between what I think I should do and what I feel I should do. How much is too much help in getting her to sleep? What should she be able to do on her own in this capacity? Plenty of parents find themselves with similar questions and concerns. And it doesn’t help that parental advice is abundant in our society, including from yours truly. So how do we know when to shut the world out and just listen to our inner voices? I think that the answer might be: more often than we think.
As Dr. Spock said, “You know more than you think you do.”
We know that our kids need love. We don’t need to read an article about that to be reminded of it. We know that they need affection. We know that they need healthy food. We know that they need exercise. We know that they need sleep. The “how” of all of these needs may differ, but if the little voice inside of us is telling us that we need to let them cry a bit longer or that they’ve cried enough, who are we to stifle it? It’s there for a reason.
I’m almost positive that I’m going to feel pulled both by instincts and my “learning” as I grow into a parent. While I value the things that I’ve read and the theories that I have hatched, I think that my real challenge is going to be listening to that voice inside of me which might be running counter to all of the things that I “know” to be in the best interest of my daughter.
I don’t need to give anyone permission to ignore my backlog of parenting posts, but I am going to have to work to give myself permission to do so.