Parenting Tip: Trusting Yourself and Asking for Help
I was at a baby shower recently and after the go to games where we measured the mother-to-be’s baby bump and guessed what would be the eventual birth date for the newborn, we were given an index card to write a piece of advice for the mom-to-be. As you might be thinking, there are so many pieces of advice that can be passed along in a scenario like this. My friend was after all about to embark on the journey of parenthood, which is a journey packed with what feels like a million decisions – all of which feel overwhelmingly important. The eventual winner of this game had the following piece of advice though which really stuck with me, “Don’t be afraid to look for help when you need it, but it’s also important to trust yourself.”
It stood out to me for several reasons. First, it didn’t get into the intricacies of how to sleep train or potty train or any other oddly specific form of training that is faced by new parents. This was the direction many of the pieces of advice went. Second, as part of my job as a therapist, I read my fair share of books and articles that try to convey information to parents about how to handle a myriad of situations with their kids. These often are structured in a way that makes it feel as though there is one approach or answer that is “correct”. This piece of advice didn’t do that. It recognized that there are many ways in which to be a great parent and parents should feel empowered to make decisions that work for them.
We are more connected than ever before to a myriad of information sources, which can be great at times. However, it can also leave us inundated with too much information. We can turn to Google with any parenting question that may come to mind, order a book with just a couple of clicks through Amazon, etc. When we do this, we can easily be left feeling overwhelmed with all the differing opinions out there and the “shoulds”. We are left feeling that there are so many different things that we “should” be doing, with little attention being paid to our individual differences and values.
Don’t get me wrong, it is important to remain educated and it can be beneficial to hear other people’s perspectives, but there comes a point where the advice that was so beautifully conveyed at my friend’s baby shower is important to remember. Don’t discount or minimize your instincts as a parent. You are an expert when it comes to your family and deciding what is right for your family specifically. So, next time you are faced with making an important parental decision, take some time if you would like to familiarize yourself with the literature, reach out to ask those in your social support network for their thoughts, but then take a pause and think through what YOU think is the right decision or path forward. Has anyone made you feel like you “should” make a certain decision about this? If it’s just those “shoulds” that are making you feel pressured into a certain decision, take a second and think through what do you believe is right for your family? What are your values? Is the decision you are making in alignment with these values? These are ALL important things to consider in your individual decision-making process.
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to reach out to a therapist to talk any and all of this through.