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2 things parenting books don’t consider …

Mother tired of reading parenting booksI recently saw an article on one of the countless parenting Facebook pages, suggesting that parents who ‘sleep train’ their babies are cruel and lacking in compassion.

The article cited studies that concluded such methods would lead to an array of psychological and behavioural conditions later in the child’s life.

It’s not the first post/article/blog/what-have-you I have come across making the same insinuations.

I have also seen copious amounts of material suggesting that if you DON’T ‘sleep train’ your child, you are encouraging your baby to have a dependence on you, which will lead to an array of psychological and behavioural conditions later in the child’s life.

I have often heard that being a parent is the hardest job in the world. The hours are pretty crap too. No other job offers several training manuals on how to properly embark on your new role, all with sternly conflicting information and exceptionally harsh and non-forgiving peers. People (parents and non-parents alike) are so quick to judge. This is wrong, that’s bad, that will certainly lead to some kind of dysfunction in your child’s life.

I’ve only been in this role a short time and if I was to believe everything I read, I have successfully locked down at least 10 years of therapy for my little girl. Not a bad feat.

I won’t lie – I was one of those new mums who bought any parenting book I could get my hands on when I was pregnant. I read them all cover to cover and I was horribly confused. I took the best bits from a handful of different books and had a vague idea in my head of how to approach the whole ‘being a mum’ thing.

What I found was none of the books took into account two very important details:

  1. My personality
  2. My child’s personality.

You see, they don’t sell a book called, What Suzi O’Shea can Expect When Raising Elena O’Shea – At This Very Moment in Time.

There is no harm in gaining as much parenting knowledge and information as you can. In fact, it’s very beneficial. But in my experience (I should point out I am not an expert and my opinions are not backed by psychological studies) it’s my baby who taught me how to be a mum.

I listened to her, I got to know her, I studied her responses, her expressions. Like any relationship, we got to know each other and fell more in love with every passing day.

Some days are tough, most days are amazing. Sometimes we co-sleep, other times she settles herself, some nights she sleeps in my arms, I don’t feed her on a schedule, sometimes she has a strict bedtime.

New Year’s Eve was a warm night and she was incredibly unsettled. At close to midnight, I decided if she wasn’t going to sleep, she might as well watch the fireworks with us. So I went against every bit of advice I had ever read or heard and got her out of bed. She had the biggest smile on her face and loved seeing all the flashing lights in the night sky. That was enough for me to know that she’s fine, and I’m doing OK as a mum.

Watching the news, reading the paper, in fact anywhere you look, there is so much anger and negativity in our world. Regardless of what sort of schedule you keep for your baby or if you decide to breast or bottle feed. Whatever techniques and methods you decide on, as a parent, you shouldn’t be made to feel bad for those decisions.

If we teach our children to love and accept others, to show kindness and not judgment, think of the impact that would make on an entire generation. Let’s start by not judging other parents. Instead of offering your opinion on what other parents should do differently, find something you think they are doing great and praise them. Telling a parent they are doing a great job goes such a long way. To hear your peers acknowledge you can be a great confidence boost. And telling an absolute stranger they are wonderful with their kids goes even further.

It could make all the difference in that person’s journey to becoming a wonderful parent.

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