What's best for you?
Today's parents seemingly have an unlimited number of resources available to aid them in every parenting concern. From extended family members, to books, parenting classes, pediatricians, friends, and yes, even the Internet, one would think that all our parenting dilemmas would be at our fingertips.
And yet, I truly believe that most parents (myself included) tend to underestimate or even overlook one of the best resources available to us: our own instincts. Every child is a unique individual, as is each parent and sibling. As such, every parenting dilemma is unique -- and not necessarily remedied by the solution that worked for someone else, no matter how lofty his or her credentials are. What's more, the person who knows a child best is his or her parents, which makes each of us parents an "expert" in our own right regarding our children -- something that's easy to forget when we're at our wit's end because one of our kids won't sleep or cries inconsolably or refuses to use the potty.
Of course it's a rare parent who can resist perusing at least some of the different sources of information out there. When my children have me stymied, I'm riffling through books and consulting experts like any other puzzled parent. Even then, I try to remind myself to let my gut feelings be the guide. If the advice I'm reading or hearing just doesn't seem right, or I feel that I wouldn't be able to follow-through, then I tell myself that it's not the right advice for me and my child.
I've also learned that my gut isn't always right - and that's okay too! As much as I want to do everything perfectly and berate myself when I err, I know that being a parent does not mean I can't make mistakes. It doesn't mean I should know all the answers and be able to solve things instantly. I also remind myself that my children are not "problems," they're people, and our relationship is a two-way street. So, when one thing doesn't work, I try something else. Or, I add a twist to what I've been doing. And yes, I'll go back to seeking advice, thumbing through books and bouncing ideas off other people---always reminding myself to take everything with a grain of salt.
Over the next several months, I look forward to contributing articles on different aspects of parenting. In addition to being a pediatrician, I'm a mother of a 4 1/2 year-old boy, 3-year-old girl , and a baby due in May, and so hope to add a little of my own person bent on things. But, as you read my thoughts and suggestions, don't forget to keep your own counsel! You know your child better than anyone else, and that counts for a lot. And if you have comments or suggestions to offer, please feel free to write--I'd love to hear from you!
First month: Toilet training readiness: when is your child ready?