There is a lot to be said for following the lead of others who have come before us. But sometimes, throwing out the rule book can be beneficial too.
Parenting is challenging. It’s a big part of life, for some, it is their life. For some, their greatest achievement. For others, it is something that happens but is not planned and thought through. Parenting is universal yet there is not just one way to do it. It’s a learning opportunity, as well as an opportunity to teach others. Many liken it to being a teacher, soccer coach, doctor, dentist, chef, cleaner, counsellor and more, all rolled into one frazzled and stressed mess.
Everyone has an opinion on parenting, from what is right, to what is wrong. How it should be done, or how certain choices will affect the child in the long term. And as a result, so many parents feel guilty, or lost, as well as time-poor and just plain over it.
This for me is where minimalism comes in, it’s about removing that from my life which does not add value, and thereby freeing up time and space for the important things.
But being a minimalist, and applying it to parenting, is kind of ‘out there’. To me it seems like an obvious answer to the difficult parts of parenting, and the key to maximising the best parts of life. It’s like a bulls eye that most people can’t see. The path seems well lit to me, it stands out as an obvious choice.
But clearly what is obvious and makes sense to me, isn’t what makes sense to all parents out there, or all people.
The same can be said for parenting styles. It’s widely accepted and spoken that there isn’t one way to parent. But experts including medical practitioners, psychologists, and teachers do have a set of recommendations about managing behaviour, teaching basic language and counting skills, sleep, feeding/nutrition and more.
But in many cases, experts disagree too! Especially in certain areas where there may be two or more distinct camps. For example, in the area of sleep, some believe controlled crying (known by other similar names) is the right way to ‘teach’ a child to develop proper sleep habits. While others believe children will learn to sleep without the imposition of rules. Both of these are supported by a range of experts however it pays to look into the qualifications of who you are trusting. Experts can vary in their opinion and both styles of managing sleep are well supported by a variety of health professionals.
This then leaves the parent to decide for themselves how to manage various situations, which as first time parents, can be daunting. So we parents enter a world of research. And the Internet does have a unique and mostly helpful but sometimes unhelpful way of supporting basically any half-brained theory.
While parents are told to carefully consider what they read on the Internet, as a parent who has had a difficult journey, there is actually a lot to be said for carefully considering what a health professional says. At the end of the day, as a medical advocate for your child, the person most invested in your child’s health and wellbeing, it pays to do your research.
My tips for managing parenting in difficult circumstances:
- Read both sides of any argument and decide for yourself.
- Don’t be afraid to question a medical professional. They do not know your child the way you do.
- Alternative therapies are not going to hurt your child, they might not be effective, but sometimes almost anything is worth a try.
- Don’t do anything that feels wrong to you – doesn’t matter who tells you to do it.
- If you’re not, ask a friend or family member you trust for their opinion, and then sit on the decision for some time until you can make your own choice, and feel good about it.