Saturday, November 7, 2009

On Parenting Advice

Parenting advice, I've found, is a real mixed bag. I think most of it comes from a good and helpful place: people want to tell you things that worked for them, or that they think is accurate. You get to thank them and do what you think is right, or argue with them if that's your style.

I'm so new to being a mom, that handing out parenting advice seems a bit foolishly optimistic to me. I've only been doing this for just over three months - who am I to say if I'm doing it right? Yet I am confident enough to reject some parenting advice out of hand, like the well meaning acquaintance who outlined his detailed plan for crying it out, which he inflicted on his children. To which, you might be interested to know, I said it was interesting that it worked for him but I absolutely couldn't see how I could do it.

I had lunch with a pregnant friend yesterday who may end up being a single parent by choice, after trying to conceive for a long time. She's not told our group of friends that she's pregnant yet, so I'll keep her identity under wraps for the moment.

She said something about now that she's finally pregnant, the idea of parenting is overwhelming and scary. I mumbled something about having felt the same way when I saw that pregnant indicator on the pee test stick late that night last November. And many times since then - there were even thoughts of OMFG, what have I done? I can't do this!

At least, that's what went through my head up til Emily was born. Then, other than the breastfeeding issues we had, I've just been questioning if I'm doing it right.

While I was pregnant, I worried that I'd be completely incompetent, that my husband would abandon us (I have no idea why I thought that - he was the one who lobbied for a baby after all!), that Emily wouldn't be healthy, that I'd chicken out during labour, that I'd be a terrible parent.

I didn't seriously worry about being a single parent - my husband is very loyal and family oriented. I knew we'd have parenting style conflicts and oh boy has that been accurate! But he's here, parenting along side me. I almost wrote helping me, but considering he's at home with Emily every day I'm at work, which most weeks is five out of seven days, and doing a lot of things like cooking, shopping, cleaning and grocery shopping, it might be more accurate to say I'm helping him!

Today, I'm working on learning how best to apply the Attachment Parenting principles, and balancing parenting with working, looking for a new job and doing a little bit of career development too. She's going to be a work at home mom - awesome - but probably a single mom too - and I think that presents a special set of challenges. I murmur reassuring noises but I've got very little in the way of practical suggestions for her, on how to manage money, day care, breastfeeding, meetings...

So I don't know what to say to my friend who is not only having normal pregnancy anxiety, but also may be additionally anxious about doing all of this essentially on her own (her family is almost as far away as mine).

Advice on parenting I have always found most useful when it falls in the category of "this is what works best for us, do what you feel is right" - so any thoughts or resources you'd like to share on what you wish you knew about parenting in general or specifically, taking care of things as a single parent, please share them below! And of course, she isn't actually asking for advice, but it's what I can offer, plus hand me downs... :)

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