No 12 in our series ‘Using positive discipline’:The loud, judgmental voices giving advice...
The minute you become a parent (and before too) you will get acres of advice...
All I can say is ‘have a shufti at their children and decide if you want children like that...before you follow their advice’. Look carefully – sometimes the fault lines are hard to spot at first and very good children are not always happy children who will make a success of life, and nor are over-assertive and aggressive children. ...and listen less to those who haven’t had children or have had never worked extensively with children!
And all children are different. One size never fully fits all. All families are different too. And what you can give to your child is what no-one else can – un-conditional love and an intimate understanding of their needs and feelings. (And whatever human being you turned out to be with a bit of extra parenting knowledge, self- knowledge and thinking thrown into the mix which will improve things a lot for all concerned!)
I remember one person telling me (when I was demand feeding my baby daughter and cuddling her a lot in between) that ‘She had always left her babies in the pram between feeds and only fed them every 4 hours. If they cried she would just leave them to cry. Unfortunately she spent a week with us when my baby was just 1 month old and I found her repeated attacks on my parenting very wearing.
But the proof is in the pudding. Both her children live abroad and see their parents very, very seldom - actually not for something like 10 years now. Both, although they went to good schools and got matric’s were not able to study at university. One had a teen pregnancy and the other is out of work in his 40’s.
My children are very different. Of course they have had ups and downs and problems of this and that. Of course they are not perfect and of course I wish I had done some things differently. But they are empathetic, have lots of friends, win prizes quite often and teachers and now uni lecturers come up to us to praise them.
So who will you listen to?
Actually the best people to listen to are your baby and yourself. Follow your baby with thought and empathy and a huge dose of love and kindness. And your intimate knowledge of your baby’s needs, feelings and preferences. Only don’t follow through with actions born of resentment, anger, fear and anxiety.
And if those feelings get too great to manage talk them through with a kind, loving friend or relative who will listen without becoming judgemental or get hold of a therapist to work out what is going on with...