Saturday, January 25, 2014

Parenting - Yup, I'm going there...

I always want to be the best at everything.  Call me a perfectionist, unrealistic, goal driven...whatever you call it, that is me.  I think it was instilled in me from my Dad, who does everything to the best of his ability and through that, has taught me to do the same.  I know that most people try to do everything to the best of their ability, but he brings it to another level.  We always joke that I am my "Father's Daughter" in so many ways.  But, when I became a parent, it brought this whole "being the best" to a whole new level.  Now, I needed to be the best not only for myself, but two little lives depended on it.  Talk about pressure!  It is definitely by far, the biggest responsibility ever.  This "being the best" no longer is just meeting certain criteria at work, being a great wife, daughter, sister, friend and human being.  It now meant that two little people are completely dependent on me and it is up to me (and my hubby of course) to mold them into amazing people!

So, of course, when I first became pregnant, I would look things up online, pick people's brains who have been through it, be anxious about certain transitions going smoothly and read about it some more.  You want to know what I have learned?  A lot! So, let's start here...

There are SO many articles you can read that claim that they have the right way for anything and everything which just sets people up for failure.  It may sound great on paper but when you attempt the method and it doesn't work, you end up so quick to say "what did I do wrong?" People ask you questions, and sometimes when you give them an answer, the look on their face shows that they don't approve. The media and people put so much more pressure on mama's than they need!  Here is an early example of my own:

I chose not to breastfeed.  Some people may have just read that statement and cringed, wondered why or didn't give it a thought.  I chose not to breastfeed round 1, because I had complications from my C-section and I decided rather than stress about breast feeding, I wanted to just enjoy and get to know my little man.  Round 2 I chose not to because it worked for my first.  But, why should I have to explain to anyone why I didn't breastfeed?  Why did I feel the need to explain that to anyone who asked? Why do people ask in the first place??  Why do people think it is acceptable to say that my child will not be as healthy or that my bond with him will not be as strong as if I had chosen to breastfeed?  Seriously? As a matter of fact, my children are and have always been healthy and I cannot imagine a bond being any stronger. People should not judge me for NOT breastfeeding just as I should not judge someone FOR breastfeeding.  Different people, different opinions.  No one is right, no one is wrong.  It is what is best for you and your child at the time.  That is just one small example, and I am sure if you are a mother you have MANY more examples to add!

Now, fast forward to the toddler years.  Now that I am in it, where it is more about molding these children and teaching them lessons of the world, I see more and more articles, blogs and pins of all different parenting methods. They are geared more towards the toddler age and older when teaching and discipline becomes part of your daily routine. When these little humans are babies you just need to keep them fed, clean and safe...but as they get older is where the molding begins. There are so many parenting styles...Instictive, Attachment, Authoritative, Permissive and Hellicopter to name a few.  There are those parents that hit and those that don't.  Those that yell and those that don't.  Strict or lenient. Calm or high strung. I could go on and on.  People then try to place themselves into one of these categories and when they fall short in an area, feel guilty or pressure to meet some invisible expectation.  There is already enough pressure, why try to fit into some category?  Yes, it is great to research online and get ideas on how to improve yourself, but it is not great to put extra pressure on yourself to make yourself into someone that you aren't, and then feel guilty when you don't meet that unrealistic expectation.

So, you know what I have decided on? MY way is the right way.  Yup, that's right.  Don't question it and don't follow it...because YOUR way is the right way for YOUR children.  YOU know your child better than anyone writing an article.  YOU know their ins and outs and what makes them tick. It is up to YOU to make the best decisions you can for them and continue doing the best you can!  I do a lot of things right, and continue to work on things daily but I never doubt myself.  I pick the brains of those I trust and that is where I find my guidance because when there is trust, there is no judgment.  I do not look to live up to any one parenting method because there is no one right way.  Each child is different and may respond differently to different methods and only you would know that.  I already know my two children respond differently, so it is up to me (us) to react appropriately to how they learn best.  A blanket parenting style wouldn't work for my family.  But, that doesn't mean it doesn't work for yours.  Like I said, YOUR way is best. 

So, a word of advice to current mama's and mama's to be...listen to yourself and your child.  Do not allow the Internet or people outside of your "circle of trust" to fool you into thinking there is one right way to do things. Use the Internet and those IN your "circle of trust" as a tool to research but don't take it too seriously.  What works for one doesn't work for another.  It doesn't mean you are doing anything wrong, because everyone is different.  Do not let anyone's disapproval misguide you if you have a vision for your child/children/family.  

So, I can say that I AM the best mother...for my children. Parenting is the most difficult yet most rewarding job there is! So to all you mama's...keep up the good work, don't let ANYONE bring you down and listen to your heart! :)