One of many difficult issues as a parent is to sometimes be brave and avoid common advice. To use parental instinct and not go with the same advice most people follow. Her Bad Mother has a post up about Wonderbaby's lack of naps at 9 months(!) and how different that is compared to other kids. I'm no longer a first time parent but I clearly remember thinking about this in the early stages. How I was hesitant of doing things differently even though I knew it was the right thing for my son.
Most parents follow common advice to begin with and try to slowly figure out what needs tweaking. The two most difficult issues are food and sleep. That's where kids can differs enormously in behavior. Her Bad Mother summarizes something we all have felt at some point:
"I'm just looking for permission, I guess, to let certain issues go. To relax my grip on certain ideals, certain standards. To stop bemoaning the absence of the conventional nap in our household, for my own – our own – peace of mind, and, perhaps, so that I will be more accepting of the absence of the conventional anything in the future. Although it is, perhaps, not permission, so much as affirmation, that I'm seeking: that it's okay to relax. Go with the flow, so far as is reasonable."
HBM is talking about stop trying to make WonderBaby nap and just go with the flow and let him stay awake. I remember how difficult this was in the early stages or parenthood. To simply let go of some issues and let it be.
Parents have a tendency to compare their own kids with other children. Including myself. We all want our infants to grow normally and act kind of like others. At least initially. For me that was kind of a safety line to know that my child was normal and healthy. But I quickly realized how much kids differ in behavior. Some sleep through the night, others wake up every other hour. Some start walking at 8 months, others at 16 months. Some eat all kinds of food, others are very picky about content. It's all normal but it takes patience to find a solution that works.
It also takes lots of confidence to go with solutions that are less common. I believe that the parental instincts of an involved and dedicated parent are extremely strong and it's possible to almost "feel" what's best for the baby. Don't quit taking vaccines, stop doctor visits, never brush teeth again, or feed your your baby crap food just because you feel it's right. But parental instincts mixed with commons sense make an extremely powerful combination.
For my second child, who is 5 months old now, I trust my parental instincts in a totally different way compared to my virgin days as a father. I'm not always sure I'm doing the correct thing but I'm willing to give it a try and find a better solution. To simply trust my instincts. Maybe I feel comfortable doing this because of my job where I rely on 90% gut feeling to guide me through every day. That makes a person confident.
Having my fatherly instincts take over more often is important to me. It's confirmation that I've reached one of the goals of my life. To become a good and involved father who can handle any situation my dear children possibly can come up with.
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