Do you ever feel overwhelmed by good parenting advice? Ever feel like your head might explode, not only from the sheer volume of well-meaning recommendations, but also from the mind-numbing contradictions among “experts”? Ever sat on the verge of tears (or completely gushing with them) because of the thoughtless, misguided, or — even worse — totally spot-on critiquing of your parenting?
I can say “yes” to every single one.
But as my head begins to spin, or my eyes fill up with those tears, I remember a lesson I learned way back at the beginning of my mothering days.
You are the expert.
When our oldest son was about six months old, he was not only still waking at night, but began waking every two hours. Exhausted and frustrated, I went to the local library and essentially cleared out the shelves in the parenting section, snagging every book I could find that promised an uninterrupted night’s sleep.
I still vividly remember my husband returning home from work one day and coming into our son’s room, where I sat rocking him and reading one of these books at the same time. On the floor around me were four or five more books that had been examined for the secret to sleep. He asked if the experts had any great gifts to offer our beleaguered little family. Becoming emotional (as tends to happen to tired moms) I explained that each book seemed to recommend something different. How could I know what to do when one book suggested one technique while the other said the complete opposite?
My husband, who has a tendency to give sage advice, said, “At some point you just have to close the books and listen to yourself. You are his mom. That makes you the expert on him.” From that perspective I was finally able to take the information that I had read, sift out the principles, and apply them in a way that felt right to me and worked best within our family.
I believe that with the stewardship of parenthood comes the capacity to know your child like no one else does. To know their needs in an intimate, spiritual way. I believe that those who recognize and nurture the sacred nature of this relationship will be inspired in ways no PhD can ever compensate for.
You have an obligation to be informed, of course, to weigh decisions wisely, but ultimately the decision you make will not be the choice that is right for the experts. It will be the choice that’s right for your child.
So here’s your permission to ignore good parenting advice. Even if it comes from me.
(This post is part of The Myth of Perfect Parenting series. Catch up, starting here.)
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