Ever find yourself saying “sorry” for things your children do, when there’s probably no need to apologise? I do. It goes something like:
“Sorry my baby’s a bit clingier than usual, she’s not normally like this. Sorry, she’s crying, she’s usually much more chilled. Sorry, she squealed a bit loudly, I don’t normally let her do that (and, yes, my ears are ringing too). Sorry, she wants to nurse again, she doesn’t usually feed this much.”
In truth? She can be clingy (the world’s full of new stuff!). She can cry (who doesn’t?). She can squeal (there are lots of exciting things out there). And she does still feed frequently, at 16 months (she’s hungry or wants the comfort, or both, who doesn’t?!). And this is all fine. Normal, in fact!
But the apologies (and porky pies) flow because, while it might not show on the surface, deep down I worry what others think – that people are looking at us and judging the way she’s behaving and what I’m doing to deal with it.
Do people think the fact we cuddle lots and I pick her up when she asks mean I’ve created a clingy child? Do they think that she’s crying because she’s learned she’ll get what she wants? Do they think I’m being too lax by letting her express herself with a joyful squeal? Or that, because she’s a toddler, she shouldn’t want to nurse anymore?
Opinions are like arseholes, everyone has one
Part of this overthinking and over-worrying stems, no doubt, from the fact we know we stand amongst millions of other parents, grandparents and great grandparents. All of whom have been through their own journeys and all of whom know the ‘right’ way to parent. Some keep their thoughts to themselves, some give a sympathetic nod, some embrace others’ children, warts and all, and some step in with a gem of advice.
This all serves as a constant reminder that everyone has an opinion on how children are raised, whether they voice it or not. And I’m sure this plays on our minds, even if we don’t realise it.
But we are individuals. Our children are individuals. What works for one, might not work for another. Times and trends evolve over time (the vast array of available parenting books is testament to this!). And I think it’s important for us to remember all of this.
Stand by your parenting style
This is by no means a criticism of people imparting advice. But it is a call for parents to feel confident in how we approach raising our children.
“Everybody gives you advice…then you realise that there is no right way. You just do the best you can and hope it turns out okay.” Michael Buble (a little left field, but the man speaks sense!)
You are each others’ world and you are responsible for guiding that little one through to adulthood, in the way your instincts tell you is best. If your baby cries and you feel compelled to pick him / her up, do so. If your toddler is roaming free (and safely, of course), let them explore and learn. If your baby wants to nurse, let them nurse. And don’t worry what anyone else thinks. Chances are, they’re not actually thinking anything and we are just worrying about nothing!
I generally don’t make New Year’s resolutions, because they always seem to get broken (normally by the end of January!). But seeing as February is no longer the ‘New Year’, I declare 2017 the year for fewer “sorries”, and more confidence. I hope you’ll join me.
Lauren, the Mother Side xx