Parenting is serious business. From the moment you get that positive pregnancy test, it seems like everyone has an opinion about what you are doing as a parent. Whether it is while you’re pregnant – oh my gosh! Not SUSHI!, in labor – water birth?! How could you!, infancy – Nursing in public?! Yuck!, or beyond. What is the obsession of parents telling other parents how to do it “right’?
There are some things that I can agree are pretty black and white issues. Like car seat safety. There are pretty clean cut rules and statistics that show that proper car seat usage ensures the safety and health of children. But almost every other parenting decision you make will be purely based upon a benefit and risk analysis that you have to make on your own.
I realize that this post is similar to my Burden of Proof post, but the reason I bring this up again is the recent birth of Prince George Alexander Louie to the ever so lovely Duchess Kate (if I get the titles wrong, please forgive me I’m not one to actually royal watch!). I would not trade places with them for the world. Being a parent in 2013 is absolutely hard enough as a normal shnormal person, let alone with the entire world watching. Every decision they make for their child is bound to be analyzed by the entire media market as well as people from the UK, US and beyond. So far I have heard judgements of their choice of where to birth, what they named him, whether she will breast feed or not, where they’re going to raise him, how involved the non-royal family will be, etcetera! How is ANY of that our business?
It is this scrutiny of each others decisions that makes us feel constantly on guard as parents. “Am I really doing the right thing?” “Well, so and so said…” The best advice I can give to anyone becoming a parent is to own your decisions, but don’t be afraid of learning new things. Be confident in your instincts and don’t disregard them. Ever. Your gut feeling is more powerful than you know. If someone – whether it is family, friend, coworker, physician, nurse, stranger, anyone – is telling you something about being a parent, and it makes you uncomfortable, don’t do it. Thank them politely for the advice, and plot your own course.
There are times that I wish I had done that already, and my son is only 16 months old. Many times. Getting IV Antibiotics during labor because the midwife said so, giving him bottles of formula on day 5 because the Dr said so, Putting him on a “feeding schedule” when he was two weeks old (worst 2 days EVER) based on a friends advice, and many more! But I’m learning and growing and becoming more confident. When there are times that I’m not sure WHY I feel uncomfortable with given advice and people ask, I just let them know that I don’t have enough information yet, and that I will make a firm decision when I do. Their advice is not usually ill intended, but just because something turned out well for them and was the right thing for their family doesn’t mean it will be right for you.
What parenting decisions have you been judged for? Have you ever gotten unwarranted, and uncomfortable advice from others? What decisions do you judge others for?