The best parenting advice I ever received came from my parent’s group facilitator. But first I should explain what parents group is. I’m lucky enough to live in a fantastic area that provides government-run groups for first-time parents. I was placed in a group in my local area with parents that had similarly aged children. My daughter was nine weeks old at our first meeting, along with all but one older baby. There was a total of eight babies, including one set of twins. Our group met at the local library each Tuesday morning for six weeks. Each week we discussed and learned about something new like sleep, cues, safety, food or returning to work. It was a safe place for us to ask any questions. After our six-week crash course, we all chose to keep in touch, and it has been a great sounding board for any issues.
The best parenting advice I ever received
The parent’s group facilitator’s advice was: it’s only a problem if it’s a problem for you.
We are continually told not to feed our babies to sleep. Or rock them to sleep. Or to let them sleep in our arms.
We cop criticism for handing them a phone or tablet to entertain them, even if we know that it doesn’t happen often.
It somehow matters to other people if I breastfeed or formula feed my baby.
We are often judged for feeding them food from a packet, rather than homemade.
And don’t even get me started on losing the baby weight!
None of the above is a problem unless its a problem for you. And it took me a while to realise what this meant. I was talking to a relative that had a three-month-old, and she said everyone was telling her to stop holding her baby so much. So I said to her that the best parenting advice I ever received, and if it was a problem for her to hold her baby so much, then she should reconsider. But if it didn’t bother her, or interfere with the things she needed to do, then it wasn’t a problem.
I used this as the measuring stick for what I needed to change as a parent. Some days it was a problem for me to feed my daughter to sleep. Some days it’s a problem that my daughter doesn’t sleep, so I needed to feed her to sleep. And some days it’s a problem that she doesn’t eat her dinner, but I settle for her having some toast instead.