Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Trial by Fire Parenting Guidelines

Since we are about to have newborns again, I decided to review what I've learned since Wren's birth.  I have no specific advice on how to make all the right choices, like how you should feed your child, get your child to sleep, discipline your child.  These have more to do with surviving everyone else's opinions, because that was the hardest part. 

If it’s not a problem for you household, it’s not a problem

Best advice ever, and I did not come up with it.  It’s from this book.  I didn't even finish the book after reading this because I realized I did not have a problem.  Everyone else did.  

When you have kids everyone will be ready to tell you what your problem is, even if you don’t have a problem.  Wren slept in our bed until she was four.  This was not a problem for us, but it was to pretty much everyone else.  I breastfed my kids even when they could chew steak.  Again, not so much an issue for us.  Adults who could chew steak took issue with it.  Our kids didn’t sleep through the night until they were over one, closer to 18 months.  This sucked, but we knew our particular choices about not sleep training and nursing on demand caused it and we felt these decisions were best for our kids, so we were okay with it. 

This is not to say do it like us and you’re good.  If you choose not to breastfeed, co-sleep, and your kids sleep through the night when they are four weeks old (I hate you for this one) and these are not problems for you, then they are really and truly not problems.  Really.  If the people in your house are okay, it’s okay.

Just because someone has kids doesn’t mean their advice is valuable to you

No offense to every parent out there, but there are only about four million ways to parent.  Plus, there are about a million parents I can think of who I would never take advice from.  There are also at least that many who would never take advice from me.  Don’t assume because someone has the child accessory on their hip that you need to listen to them. 

Don’t feel like a failure if your reality doesn’t look exactly like your original vision, but feel free to shoot for your ideal

I was going to give birth naturally; I am now about to have my third c-section.  That’s a biggie for me and it just has to be okay.  Some parts of the big plan fall into place, and I’ve had plenty go just the way I hoped.  If something doesn’t go the way you wanted, make sure your child is still breathing.  If they are, you’re probably still good. 

That being said, don’t let others talk you out of what you want for your kids just because it isn’t what they would do.  I fought hard to VBAC Sammy.  It didn’t happen, but I appreciated the support along the way much more than the people who implied or told me straight up I was a moron for trying.  Get to the point where you know enough about the needs of your child and your family that you can blow off criticism that is unfounded.

Find transparent parent friends

It’s nice to see people have a great attitude about parenting and just really love time with their kids.  It’s important to be one of those people.  It’s also important to find people who will send you emails titled:

So this is why parents smack children

I am so done being covered in crap!

The next person who touches my boobs like they are public domain is going to get cut!

Find these people; love these people; they are your tribe.  You will spend hours talking about how much you love being a parent.  You will also spend hours talking about how the next time your daughter says picking up her toys is your job and she doesn’t feel she should have to do it you are going to send her to  boarding school ASAP.  If you are only surrounded by people who act like the parenting experience is always easy they are either a) on a lot of drugs b) drunk so much that you can’t actually tell they have been drinking, or c) fake. 

Lie or be very confident

This one is tricky because it sounds like going against being transparent.  I believe in being transparent, and I also believe there are people who can’t handle the truth.  For instance, a woman I worked with when I had Wren was obsessed with why Wren was not sleeping through the night when I came back to work.  She asked daily.  She said Wren had a sleep disorder.  She suggested I feed her solids at three months old so she would get over this “insane dependency” that caused her to wake at night.  She said outright that D and I were obviously not doing something right or our child would not be “ruined” this way.  I finally came to the point of extreme honestly and told her my child had a boob addiction, not unlike most men, and men weren’t required to seek treatment for it.  She likes boob.  She likes milk.  She wakes up to eat it.  I kindly told her if her breasts were not being affected by this, maybe the question asking should stop.  I could have just as easily told her Wren was sleeping through the night to shut her up, but I found my groove in the way we were parenting after being insecure for too long, and I decided to express that.  Besides, the look on her face was priceless.

Pray and follow your instincts

This is most important.  Trust your kids to the Lord and ask Him to guide you.  Know you were made for this even on the days it feels like your kids are going to be in therapy before they are seven and blaming it all on you.  Kids are durable.  Remember, if they are breathing, you are probably good.


  1. THANK YOU for this. Witty, smart and just what I needed to hear today!

  2. Stefani,
    Thank you! You are going to be a wonderful mom, and I'm excited to follow your journey.