Parenting Without the Instruction Manual

I have always fallen more on the cuddly side of the parenting spectrum.  You know, you are either on the side of “tough love” or “over loving.” It is actually an unfair gauge considering the “right way to parent” is always changing.

I learned a long time ago you have to just put down the books, ignore the advice and go with your gut. That is the only right way. 

I think I have a unique perspective, having had a kid in three different decades (no that is not a typo). Each time I was pregnant and raising these babies in their first few years, the parenting advice was widely different. In the nineties, it was all about bottle feeding, back sleeping, no solids before 6 months and co-sleeping was frowned upon. Flash forward to 2001 and we’ve got only belly sleeping, breast is best, co-sleeping was huge and no solids before 4 months. By the time Baby #3 came in 2013, there was this bizarre mixture of both. Except now you have to make (I’m sorry, grow) your own food, co-sleep/co-room yet let them cry it out and give the 4-month-old a steak and see how he does with it. 

It is an impossible time to be a parent!  

You google “good parenting” and articles show up like “Tough love: Do your children a favor” or “9 reasons to cuddle your kid.” 

There are so many opinions swirling around and everyone seems to be an expert. I’m going to go ahead and give my expert opinion that the trick is to not care. Someone once told me “it is none of your business what other people think of you.” I love this advice, and it has stuck with me through many a public parenting moment. 

I still carry my 4 1/2 year old whenever he asks. I scoop him up maybe with a little more effort than when he was younger, but up he comes into my arms. I will carry him upstairs, downstairs, to the car, through the grocery store. Yes, he is getting big for this. But only vertically! He is still a toddler in many ways, so if this little man wants his momma to hold him, that is exactly what I am going to do. I see the disapproving look on parents’ or teachers’ faces. Perhaps they think I am somehow stunting his growth by holding him?  As it turns out, kids continue to grow whether we like it or not and one day that kid will let you know when that day has come that he does not want you to hold him and once that happens the line is forever drawn in the sand. 

So, soak it up.

Pick them up. Allow a little more time in your day for that neck snuggle, that sweet head against your shoulder. Loving someone too much does not need an instruction manual. So, put the books down. I promise you, all the advice will be there at the time you really need it……when they become teenagers. 

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