Parenting Advice: Who Should We Listen to and What Matters?

“Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.”

These lines from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” came to mind when I saw a simple Facebook post by a friend of mine asking a question regarding her 10-week-old son. With so much information at our fingertips, parents often feel like they know less and have less as they attempt to find what is trustworthy and accurate. I must admit that I was mortified at some of the “advice” she received from well-meaning people from all walks of life who believed they were assisting her in her dilemma.

In these times, we can find someone who will agree with us on just about any action or situation; and parenting advice is certainly not excluded. So how do parents know which sources to trust? Even our family and friends are not always informed about what is currently considered best practice. Just because they did something with their child and he “turned out just fine,” does not mean that we should use their criteria to determine our parenting decisions. I always tell parents that they are their child’s number-one advocate and to always trust their gut instinct. If it doesn’t feel right for you or your child, it probably isn’t. As Benjamin Spock said, “What good mothers and fathers instinctively feel like doing for their babies is usually best after all.”

Here are my suggestions for today’s parents:

1.     Search until you find a pediatrician who truly supports your parenting journey. Each one of us needs a physician we can trust in every phase of our lives.

2.     Give special attention to health and safety matters first. Ensure that you and your sources remain up-to-date. Listen to the current research and facts about health and safety over the advice of family and friends.

3.     Ask family and friends who are especially diligent about researching everything and are happy to share their findings. If I am going to purchase something that my daughter has recently purchased, all I have to do is ask her. I trust her, and she is an amazing fact-finder. She spent hours researching every detail, and she gives me the abbreviated version of which product is best and why. It is great to have this type of resource in your life regarding parenting matters.

4.     Teachers of young children have real-life experience as well as academic knowledge. These dedicated professionals often prove to be some of the greatest resources for parents.

More information doesn’t necessarily make the parenting journey any easier. Choose your sources wisely and then determine what is best for your child. We all must understand that our best is good enough and that we will grow and learn from each other throughout this journey called Life.

When we are so busy preparing to teach and guide our children, we often find that they are the ones educating and guiding us. All of the planning, researching, and studying can never prepare you for the uniqueness of your child. Don’t miss the joy of the journey by trying too hard. Find your rhythm by determining who you can trust.

Written by Donna McClintock, COO with Children’s Choice Learning Centers, Inc.


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