Many new parents get overwhelmed by a mountain of parenting advice. Parenting feels like it’s become an Olympic event as we constantly compare our children’s lives and development to the children of friends and as we scramble to keep on top of the cutting-edge trends in feeding, diapering, sleeping, clothing, toys, tummy-time and, oh yeah, our emotional relationship with our child.
Here’s the good news: you don’t have to be perfect. In fact, you’re about to be surprised by just how “imperfect” you can be. Research suggests that parents need to get it right about 33% of the time. In other words, if we meet our child’s needs with sensitivity and kindness about one third of the time, our child is going to be just fine. This doesn’t mean that we can do nothing for the other 67% of the child’s day. We have to try to connect and engage with our children, we just don’t have to get it right all the time. We can make a “repair” when we get it wrong or when circumstances prevent us from meeting a need in a timely fashion. When we get it wrong, depending on the age of our child, we can do repair with a good cuddle (for little ones) or with an apology or explanation (for older kids and teens).
As parents, we’re allowed to decide how we want to raise our kids. That’s one of the privileges we get in exchange for 1000 sleepless nights, an empty wallet and a mountain of laundry. We get to decide what values we want to teach, what kind of food they eat, what activities they do, etc. If, as a parent, you want to breastfeed your baby, you get to do that. If you are not able to breastfeed or choose to feed your baby with a bottle, you get to do that. You can choose cloth or disposable diapers. None of these choices will cause the authorities to come knocking at your door and here’s why: none of these choices will affect the most important thing that needs to happen for our children, which is to form a secure attachment to one person -YOU- in this big, confusing world. That’s all. Children form secure attachments with parents who breast AND bottle feed, with parents who wear them and don’t wear them and with parents who use cloth diapers or disposable diapers. Striving for perfection can result in anxious, worn-out, guilt-ridden parents, who frankly don’t make very good playmates! So Moms, Dads and caregivers, all we need is to be “Good Enough”. Just go have fun!