An Overabundance of Opinions: A Parenting Crisis

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We live in world of a thousand resources and where the internet is at your fingertips with an answer to any problem. While these things definitely have been a positive for so many reasons, they can also bring a new challenge to parenting. This comes with the constant reinforcement to parents that they could be doing more. I have been there, and chances are you have too. At the end of the day, if someone else hasn’t said it yet to you, you are doing enough.

When information is too much.

I graduated from college with a degree in human development. The reason I gravitated to this degree is because I have always been fascinated with what makes people tick, as well as the development people go through in all stages of life. My husband used to joke that I essentially got a degree in parenting, so I should be a pro. I know it was a joke, but I felt this heavy expectation that my degree needed to give me a leg up in parenting. While I am sure it has, it has left me many days with a feeling of fatigue.

I learned really quick that it was just too much. Outside of making sure my children are thriving, I also want to make sure they are healthy, socialized, and happy. I was taking on way too much by obsessing over things I couldn’t control. Meeting up with other parents, the topics around our kids always left me feeling defeated. When did your child start walking? Is your kid talking yet? Did you know my child knows the alphabet? Oh, you do screen time? We don’t allow that. You feed your kids that? You send your children to daycare? You mean you keep your children home all day?

JUST STOP.

For the most part it is all well intentioned, meant to be helpful, but its not. Lets be honest with each other and ourselves for a minute. Yes, some missed milestones are signs of something greater that should be supported. Work with medical, behavioral, nutritional experts to help you along if you need to. Other than that, none of this matters. I have seen it time and time again, parents posting about being at wits end feeling like they can’t do it all. The worst is seeing people feel like they could or should have done something different to better meet their child’s need. Don’t listen to the noise making you feel like you are less.

Give your brain a break, mama.

I get it, I’ve lived it. Coming into parenting like I was right back in school. While having happy children was always a top priority, my brain was clouded with due dates. These due date were things I had created for myself to make “parenting easier”. While my intentions were there, I was not experienced enough to see that there is so much more. I see articles all the time now with titles like “Research shows that rolling over before three months have an easier time making friends”. I used to read every single absurd article like that, with hopes of learning more and would feel like somehow I was already failing my children. Now I skip right over these articles and I am much happier for it.

The Potty Training Parenting Regression.

For my son, Miles, I watched myself slip back into this cycle of doubt. Toilet training has not come easy for us. While there have been ups and downs, starting when he was about one and a half, there was no finish line in sight. In my job, I would get calls from parents who would say their children weren’t potty trained at three and that was a missed milestone. I would see my friends having success on social media. My brain knew all children are different, all situations are different; the rest of me needed reminding.

I started doubting myself again. When Miles was a little over three years old, I got stressed enough to push it again. All of a sudden, our house was a war zone. He was constantly refusing to sit on the toilet. I was bribing him with lollipops, which I knew was in no way sustainable. I tried different books and different methods, to no avail.

This nagging voice told me I should just ask Miles how to do this. So, I stopped. Regrouping, I started talking to him about what he thought about the potty. I gave him choices. I let him lead. Going forward, I blocked out everything else and listened to him and worked with him. We got him mostly potty trained (minus overnight) in less than 3 weeks, just by letting him guide when he was ready.

Despite pushing, children learn when they are ready, not when we are.

I cannot change how my children learn and at what speed. Honestly, I would never want to either. To give my children any indication that they are not enough would be a disservice to them. My children are both hilarious, wildly creative, imaginative, critical thinkers. And guess what, I didn’t do that. They did. I just supported them. When they were ready to walk, I held their hands.

Despite best intentions,  there will always be something telling us we aren’t enough. A misguided comment at a playdate, a judgmental family member, or an article from an expert that completely contradicts a different expert you read about last week. It’s too much. Children don’t need experts as parents. What your children need parents who show up.

Happy Mama, Happy Baby.

While my passion for all things human development is unchanged, I remind myself that all it gives me when it comes to parenting is insight. Not a one size fits all guide. As a mom, the opinions and an overabundance of information will always be there. The key to success comes from filtering them out. If something your children are doing is concerning, address it with your team of health professionals.  Surround yourself with the opinions that align with your ideals and block out the rest. Still, I love watching my kids tackle their milestones. I just stopped looking at skills as late or early and just look at them as skills.

Our house has days with way too much screen time and some days we have none. Some days my kids eat mac & cheese and nothing else, on others, they snack on veggies. Occasionally, its non-stop tantrums, other times it’s all smiles. I still occasionally give in to bribing my children. All that’s changed is that I no longer allow the self-doubt to over run my parenting. By no means am I saying I cracked the code, like everyone else I am just trying my best day in and day out. I hold on to the things I think are important and let the rest go. Ultimately, If you are willing to listen, you know what is best for your kid.

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Kayla is a married mom of two boys, Miles (2017) and Taron (2020) . She has two cats, also male. She is currently living in Framingham. While she moved around a lot growing up she has always considered Massachusetts her home base. She graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in Human Development and Family studies. Kayla works as the director of a PCA program, assisting people in Massachusetts with disabilities and other chronic conditions live as independently as possible. In her free time, when she isn’t reading, writing, or running a small craft business (CraftedbyKBC), she is a chapter leader of the Framingham Dignity Matters branch, a nonprofit dedicated to making sure all women and children, regardless of their socioeconomic status, have access to period products.

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