In the age of the Internet parents are bombarded by information. The accessibility of information can be empowering. However, there are two sides to every coin. On the flipside- the Internet and social media can create an overwhelming stream of do’s and don’ts (many times in contradiction with one another). Parents can very easily find themselves questioning their natural instincts and confidence levels take a hard hit.
Am I doing this right?
Am I harming my child?
In my experience, most parents want to do right by their children. With the exception of parents who perpetrate crimes against their children, most parents are acting with the best of intentions. I have come across many parents, both in my practice and now as a mother, who are burdened by fear and anxiety. Each turn of the day presents new moments to question the repercussions of their actions. This type of worry can be disabling at worst but even at a minimum can create a roadblock to building a strong parent-child relationship.
The more we stress about the details, the less present we are to take in our children as whole beings. Obsessing about the number of hours of sleep or how many sight words your kiddo has mastered prevents us from being able to witness the wonder of childhood. “Life isn’t a matter of milestones, but of moments” – Rose Kennedy.
And here I present for you a challenge! The next time you find yourself perseverating about “the small things,” stop. Take a deep breath. Get down on the floor and play with your kiddo. Let your child show you his or her world. And soak up the moment.
You will always have more opportunities to sleep train or teach reading. Our children learn how to approach the world around them through their relationships with us. Do we want our children to learn to second guess their instincts? To get lost in the details? Or do we want them to develop self-efficacy and a belief in oneself?
Do it for your own peace of mind or do it for your kiddo- but give yourself a break. Remember what is really important in this life- love, acceptance, connection. As a child and family therapist who has worked with dozens of families over the past 7 years I can tell you this- If you have a mutually respectful and trusting relationship with your child, your kiddo is going to come out of all of this A-OK. Will feeding your child nonorganic apples harm their growing bodies? Maybe. Or maybe not. Will it permanently damage their psyche. Definitely not.
Are there parenting practices that are more ideal than others? Probably. I personally and professionally subscribe to a very specific parenting approach. But is my way the right way? Not for everyone. Different things work for different people. What feels right for me and my family may not feel right for yours.What I hope is that parents coming through my office doors can figure out what their path is and how to carry it out at home. For each mom and dad to uncover and honor their intuitions and do so with confidence. When we believe in our abilities as parents we are able be present for and enjoy parenting. You will feel better and your children will benefit as well!