"I sound just like my mother!" "The Superhero Parent Whisperer does it that way." "Everyone at mums group has decided that dummies are not an option." You are influenced by a multitude of channels of thought on how you ought to parent. Ultimately it's up to you. Which voices will you listen to and which will you mute?
Pretend you are holding a newborn? How are you holding the baby? Snuggled against your shoulder? Cradled in your arms? Slung over your arm and patting the baby's back? Chances are the manner in which you are holding the newborn is the exact same way you were held as a baby. Whether we like it or not, the way our mums and dads chose to parent us influences the parent we are today. You will slip into sounding like your dad ... but being your dad is not your destiny. You choose which styles and methods you want to embrace from your own upbringing and you decide which you are happy to let go of. You are destined to be YOUR kid's parent.
You and your partner both come from different parenting cultures. You were parented one way and he or she was parented another. Now you need to work together to form your OWN parenting culture. It won't work if you attempt to force your partner to embrace your past family culture. You must compromise and determine what works best for the two of you AND your little ones. Each family culture is unique. Make it your own.
Your neighbour, Cheryl, might be completely cool with her children jumping from a tree onto an old mattress below. At mothers group everyone seems to have embraced a particular author as THE way to parent. Your sister has chosen to feed her children only organic fruit and vegetables. You choose the way that fits best with you and your family.
Television, magazines, blogs, movies all influence our parenting. Some parenting options are so ingrained in our society that we no longer question them. How many women giving birth on TV are lying on a bed with their knees in the air, sweating and screaming their heads off? How did that fit with your own experience? Does that fit with current best practice in birthing suites? And yet it still persists in the media. Do your research and don't get sucked in to whatever is popular or accepted at any given time.
Each area of influence in your life as a parent will deliver messages to you that you can choose to accept or let go of. You do not have to repeat the past mistakes of your parents. Mindfully let go of any ideas that do not fit with your own parenting choices.
Be confident in your choices and don't let others' choices make you feel guilty. They have made their own choices that suit them and their families. Be purposeful about the choices you make as a parent. Don't just slip into neutral. Stop and pause. How do I want to be the best parent I can be in this situation?
Your self-talk might go something like this,
"I'm not going to yell at my toddler right now. He is having a hard time. I will hold him and help him through his feelings. Then we will clean up this mess together and we'll talk about what we could do differently next time."
You may be influenced by a myriad of voices, but ultimately you make the choice. What sort of parent do you want to be?
To boost your confidence, get in touch with a Cradle 2 Kindy Parenting Solutions coach. They will help you sift through life's messages and help you decide which messages you want to embrace and which to let go of.