Sunday, July 31, 2011

Parenting The Right Way

New moms often approach me and they want to know if they are doing things "right".

I remember when #1 was a baby and I was consumed with parenting the "right"way.  I was constantly asking other moms if I was feeding him right, napping him right, diapering him right and socializing him right.  I was petrified that I was going to do something wrong and my precious little baby would be damaged forever.  Forever!

Once #2 arrived we had moved across country and I had been exposed to whole other group of mommies.   They did not do things the way my other mommy friends did but their kids still seemed to be turning out fine.  This was a little scary to me.  I kinda found comfort in the idea of there being only one right way.  If there was only one right answer then I was in good shape - because I had found it!  The whole concept of there being "multiple rights" really bent my brain.

Between #2 and #3 we moved yet again and my newest mommy group was full of women parenting in different ways but still achieving positive results.  Well, now I was in trouble.  I had plenty of evidence that I had not found the one right way.  In fact it appeared that there were many many right ways.  How could this be and what did it mean to my parenting philosophy?  Was I over thinking it?  Does it even matter how I parent?  Is it a total game of chance?

I started pooling in my head all of the parents that I know who were getting good results and instead of focusing on how they were different I focused on how they were the same.  It turns out they were all very similar in major issues but very different in minor issues.  I had just been confusing my minors and majors.

Some minors that are often mistaken for majors are:  breastfeeding vs formula, scheduled feedings vs demand feedings, organic vs regular, name brand vs store brand, daycare vs stay at home, extra curricular vs family time and of course public school vs private school.

Some of the true majors are:  consistency, discipline, grace, love, and quality time.

Instead of complicating my parenting, this revelation actually simplified it.  It was a lot less stressful to be the  right mom for my kids than to constantly be trying to act like the right mom.  Families are different and they are made from all sorts of dynamics.  I realized that I would miss out on my best if I was too concerned with acting best.  I will not have genuine and authentic kids if I am a cookie cutter parent.

So, new mommy friend, my hind sight advice to you is don't waste time trying to copy someone else's "right".  Focus on the true majors and then adjust the minors to what meets your family's needs.  Your children will be better for it and so will you!

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