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Archive for August 2nd, 2009

You Are the Expert

Cold boy

Molly just had her first baby, a beautiful baby boy with big blue eyes.  As a nurse in a pediatric trauma unit Molly knows babies, right?  Right.  But even so, trying to convince a new mom that she knows what to do isn’t always easy.  The pressure to be perfect and the guilt that goes with being a mom combine to make the first few weeks so difficult. Well meaning family and friends openly question them, leading to even more doubts and insecurities.

But in the end, mom is always the expert. Moms know their children.  They know why they cry and they know how to comfort them.  Sure, there are guidelines.  There are books to refer to, websites chock full of information and experienced mothers to call, but the truth is that each baby is so different that moms have to trust their instincts, to believe they have the answers.  To be confident they can take care of their babies.

In short, new moms need to relax and know they will be fine.  Look around and watch other moms.  Moms are as different as our children.  We each have a different style and different ideas and we raise our children accordingly.

Many of my friends think I am too laid back.  I seldom panic or worry about the small things.  My kids pick up food off of the floor and eat it citing the ten second rule and I don’t panic.  And guess what?  They are okay.  They haven’t died of some rare floor-born illness.  My kids go to the grocery store and touch the cart and I am not going to have a heart attack wondering who sneezed on that cart last.  I could worry about these things but I don’t.  They get dirty and I clean them up.  They get hurt and I patch them up.  But I seldom panic.  Walking through a museum, a zoo or along a city street I don’t make them hold my hand.  I allow them to run ahead, still in my line of sight but giving them a sense of independence.  I let them make mistakes and face the consequences of those mistakes.  And even so my kids are well adjusted children who are growing into well adjusted adults.  They are just fine even without the worry some moms put into it.

My friend Renee hates germs.  They worry her sick.  She carries hand-sanitizer everywhere she goes and is constantly insisting her children use it.  If her child picked something up off of the floor and ate it, she might go into cardiac arrest.  A scraped knee is almost always reason to go to the doctor.  And a cold is always a sign of an infection coming on.  She manages their lives from morning to night.  If they make a mistake, she fixes it for them, often taking the consequences of their mistakes on herself.  Yet, once again, her beautiful children are just fine.  They are healthy, happy and well adjusted.

There are moms who coddle their children, there are moms who believe in tough love, and there are moms who believe in giving their children a lot of space and freedom to become the people they will become.  Each of these moms raises children who will go out into the real world as fully functioning adults.  Each will have children who will look back on their childhoods with fond thoughts.  They may not think they had a perfect childhood but as long as their moms raised them with love, no matter what the parenting style, everything will be fine.  With a mother’s love they will grow and thrive.  So, relax.  Love your children, enjoy your time with them, trust your instincts and everything will be okay.  You are a mom.  You have the answers.

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