Trusting Your Parenting Instincts

family enjoying a day at the parkNow I don't want this to get political, but I once heard or read Al Gore saying, and I am paraphrasing from memory here, "If your babies crib is on fire, you don't speculate that the baby is flame-retardant". What did I learn from this? Use your gut instinct, and don't always think about parenting, just do what seems to come naturally and see what happens, most of the time it will be the right decision.

Most moms seem to have a sixth sense when it comes to parenting. Dads do to, but it takes a little harder work, I am talking from experience here. As a dad I have found we really have to work at getting in touch with our kids feelings. Moms just seem to do it naturally. Beginning with the birth of a child, or sometimes before, an immediate instinct forms with a mom; a signal if you will, instantly hones in on the baby’s every need. While there are some who do not have the ability to take on the role of parent; the majority however, do. The confidence to follow your own parenting instincts is an inherent trait, and one which is worth exploring a bit more.

First a long time before Dr. Spock, whether confident or not, parenting skills were instinctual. Moms seemed to be able to sense, merely by hearing a child’s cry, what needed to be done. There weren’t any books or instructions that came with the baby; nor were there any video tapes on how to be a good parent. What did exist were friends and family members who a mom could reach out to if she felt she couldn’t handle a specific situation.

Today, there are many tools available to help moms and dads become good parents. Is it necessary all the time? It can be an information overload and a lot of information conflicts with each other. Perhaps too much information can contribute a parents hesitation and lack of confidence at time. Instead of relying on our own instincts, we tend to be  thrust into the world of information overload. Conflicting and confusing, tends to frustrate us parents even more. Faced with the many decisions that we have to make on a daily basis, parents’ responsibility for the child becomes pressure-packed, thus producing indecisiveness and an inability to cope.

It doesn’t have to be this way. If you learn to trust your own parental instincts, you will rarely. Now, I am not advocating to throw away the books, but to learn to be flexible, and try other methods and approaches when parenting. Take in what you read and hear with a grain of salt. Verify the information, and just because it seems to be coming from an expert does not mean that it will work in your situation. While you may think you’re alone, you’re not. There are family members and professionals who are there to help in any case scenario.

Many people parent the way they were parented, explore your feelings and instincts. Many people parent the way they were parented, learn to explore your feelings and instincts. Try different things, be flexible, but remember, being flexible does not mean being permissive, children need boundaries and parents that will lead and coach them. Also it is important to realize you may be parenting without even realizing it! We are our kids first teachers and setting good examples for them when they are young will help them develop good behaviors when they are older.

Relax.
So, relax and don’t take things too seriously. However parenting is a very serious role, but enjoy being a parent; yes you’ll make mistakes, we all will make mistakes, but it is what you will learn from those mistakes that will be invaluable. Whether you believe it or not, you do have the confidence to follow your own parenting instincts; that’s all you’ll ever need.

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October 7, 2007

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