Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Parenting and the Internet

I think parenting must have been easier back in the old days. The majority of advice came from your mom and the other ladies around. Ok, sometimes that can be stressful. But the internet has given us a whole new source of "expert" advice--and stress and pressure.

When my daughter was first born there's no doubt I had no idea what I was doing. I got great advice from my mom and other moms I knew, but I also spent plenty of time online reading articles about what I should and shouldn't be doing with this kid.

I certainly learned some important things from all that reading, but it often just served to make me paranoid. The problem with listening to the experts is that no two babies are the same. Sure, there are lots of things that would be ideal--sleeping through the night, breastfeeding without a problem, hitting all the right milestones--but I'd bet that most babies don't fulfill all the ideals and we're left feeling like failures.

After almost a year and half of being a mom, I'm finally learning to just take what comes. My daughter never rolled over. That's cool, she just sat up one day instead. We still rock her to sleep at night. No problem. I chose to (try) not to get worked up about these things or to force her to change, and we're all happier for it.

When her sleeping started getting sketchy around 4 months, I decided to do what the articles said and try to get her to go to sleep on her own. After some months of frustration and hour-long "cry it out" sessions, I decided to forget the experts and just rock the poor kid to sleep. And it worked. She slept better. We slept better. And we didn't even suffer the horrific consequences the experts assured me would happen (which, if you're wondering, is that she will never ever ever be able to get herself back to sleep when she wakes up in the middle of the night causing us to have to constantly get up to sooth her).

I'm not saying all experts are wrong. I still read my share of articles online, but I've learned not to stress when my child isn't living up to everything they say she should. They don't know me or my kid. All that matters is that my daughter (who is currently making out with a plastic strawberry) is happy!

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