The decisions that will ensure you and your family are healthy and happy are the exact decisions you should be making. You know your family and what you need better than anyone. You do not have to explain yourself or take direction from anyone else. There is no reason for you to feel guilty for the choices you make. You are not compelled to parent your child a certain way because someone else thinks you should.
P.S. You are doing a fantastic job! Keep it up!
I do not know why people feel they can so openly criticize you or tell you what you should be doing when you become a parent. For some reason, becoming a parent can make you feel like you became a target for unsolicited guidance. The person may barely know you, but they are quick to tell you exactly what your child needs. Umm… thanks, but NO THANKS!
I want to talk to you about how to deter that nonsense before it makes you crazy! Joining the world of parenting makes you crazy enough without the help.
Decide what kind of parent you want to be, and align your choices with that.
You know what values you want to instill in your child. You know what rules your house has. Other people sometimes try to get in your way, and change the type of parent you want to be. They want your household to mimic theirs, or what they want theirs to be like. When someone tries to force their opinions on you, decide if it aligns with your parenting goals. If it does, awesome! You can consider taking that advice. If it doesn’t, then forget it!
Sometimes, this gets extremely difficult. Before my son was born, I was completely on board with preventing him from having a life full of excess. I don’t want my son to think that things are more important than people and experiences. The next thing you know, my house is filled with toys and clothes and the excess I did not want! My mom would drop by with a new toy and my son would love it. I could not take it from him without feeling bad. I reasoned that people just liked to get him things to express their love. Love is a good thing, right? I fell into the trap!
It has taken me some time, but I have started to take a stand to get back in line with the parent I want to be. I have significantly limited what my mother is allowed to get him. I actively remind people that we do not want more material items in our home. We have decided that for the holidays, we will be focusing on charity and teaching him from a young age to help others. I am taking the steps to teach my child the lessons I want him to learn. To not allow other people to take over, no matter how seemingly well-meaning.
Encourage support, not pushy advice.
When you are a new parent, you cannot put a high enough value on support. If you have ever had someone come over to let you take a nap after you have been up all night, you know what I am talking about! It is amazing to have someone you love and trust who can provide child care for you to get a couple of hours to yourself. If you want some people in your life to play a role in raising your child, you might want to learn to encourage this support, minus the pushiness that comes with letting people in at times.
To do this, reinforce the positive. When your mother-in-law does things that are in line with your goals, thank her and remind her how much you appreciate her being supportive of you as a parent. People tend to remain more supportive when they feel appreciated. Show people the positive effects of your parenting choice. Teach them how beneficial it is for your child so they can understand. When your support people feel involved, they are more likely to get into a team mentality and share your goals.
During the times when your support people don’t agree, kindly remind them of your goal and move forward. If you are clear and to the point, they will begin to learn that the topic is not up for discussion. Your decision has been made and in this instance, your decision is the only thing that matters. For some people this takes a little more time to understand. Be patient with them, but continue to express appreciation for the support and concise re-direction when they veer off track.
Set the tone from the beginning using the following steps:
- Set Boundaries – decide what you want and what boundaries that requires. Make sure your actions are within those boundaries.
- Express Expectations – make sure you let others know your expectations from them. If you want them involved, tell them what their role is.
- Reinforce Relationships – once you have those supportive relationships built, reinforce them whenever possible. If you want support, you want it to be healthy.
As an extra little BONUS, I created an Our Parenting Plan template. Birth plans have become very popular, and this is a spin on those. Why not have a plan for after the baby is here?
In this plan you want to include:
- Your big goals.
- Supportive roles you hope for specific people to fill.
- Interventions for your child you are and are not okay with.
- Plus parenting tools you are open to trying!
- Hard lines you draw on what is not allowed around your child.
You can get as specific or as general as you want. It may also be helpful to share with the people involved, just like you do with a birth plan.
If you found the information and template helpful, pass it along so others can use it too!