Parenting Norms

Parenting Norms

If you were to believe TV shows, parenting is up there with quantum mechanics and Newtonian physics as one of the most difficult things in the world.

Need to put a stroller together? Sorry, you’re going to need a high-end engineering degree from MIT for that!

Putting a diaper on? Oops, you mean you’ve not mastered the art of origami?

Looking after your child’s health? Well, I presume you’ve got at the very least an MD after your name.

Figuring out the finances you’ll need to be able to raise a child? I do hope your proof of accountancy qualifications are up to date.

And so on and so forth.

Yet somehow, despite all of the above, we got here. Humanity managed to survive and thrive; therefore, parents have been succeeding for generations. Bringing up a child has its problems, and yes, some of the equipment you’ll be required to assemble can be exhausting in its complexity – but the basic rules remain the same.

If you’re contemplating or beginning to raise a child for the first time, then pop culture has taught you you’re going to be bad at this. It’s time to counter that argument. That’s not to say you’re encouraged to take your eye off the ball and just hope your child somehow manages to raise themselves, but it is to say: give yourself a break. You’ve got this.

  1. It’s Normal To Worry About Your Baby’s Health

Put it another way: it’s abnormal not to worry about your baby’s health. You have this new life, flourishing with the possibilities of what kind of person they will be. It’s literally in your DNA to want to protect your child, becoming the proverbial mother bear guarding over her cubs.

If you’re worried about how you’re going to handle this aspect of parenthood, then do your research. You can take a first aid course to give yourself a refresher in how you should act in an accident. Talk to a doctor about the health signs you need to look out for. Go and find all the information you need to tick that box in your mind.

Along the way, you’ll encounter a lot of different opinions about how children should be raised. What you do with this is your decision; your gut instinct as a parent is always the opinion you should care the most about. Make a choice that feels right for you providing it is not damaging, and you’re halfway there.

  1. It’s Normal To Feel You Have Too Much Stuff

Especially in the aftermath of a baby shower, it can feel like you’re drowning in baby equipment. Not only do you have the practical gifts, but also the sweet trinkets that people have bought you with the best intentions in mind. You can find yourself staring at your haul and wondering what on earth you do with it all.

One way of controlling this is to ask people to give vouchers rather than money. That means you can only buy the things you need rather than what friends and family think you need. It might seem rude to ask, but it’s arguably ruder to receive something you know you will never use. It’s far better towards buying items you have researched and drooled over like the latest buggy opinions, the Mickey Mouse car seat reviews in or the diaper bin feedback you’ve taken into consideration.

When you have the energy, it’s worth decluttering and making sure your rid yourself of the items you don’t need. Not only will you feel better for it, but it’ll give you space for the things that are actually being used.

  1. It’s Normal To Need A Break

If you believed some op-eds and articles, parenting becomes all-consuming. You lose interest in yourself, instead morphing into someone’s parent and not much more. If that’s how you feel and you’re comfortable in that role, then more power to you. We’re all different!

If you find yourself on the other side of the coin and missing your pre-parenthood life, that’s normal too. You’re not doing anything wrong; you’re not a bad parent, and it’s not selfish to want some time out. An afternoon spent window shopping, talking with a friend, or just reading a novel you otherwise never have time for – they’re all harmless.

In fact, it could be argued that taking some time just for you makes you a better parent. It means you’re refreshed, more relaxed and able to better focus on the task at hand. Try not to let yourself get caught in a guilt trap that, ultimately, doesn’t help anyone.

  1. It’s Normal To Get Tired of Advice

With parenting comes a certainty: everyone you know has got an opinion. They want to tell you about this new idea they saw an actress doing, explain the way that you’re doing something wrong, tell you what worked for them. On some levels, that’s nice. People care, and they want to show they empathize with you and understand what you’re going through.

It’s also overwhelming. Advice you ask for is always welcome, but unsolicited advice is a whole other problem. Yet you will continue to get it from all quarters, and most of the time, it’s not useful to your circumstance.

If you find yourself getting fed up of this advice, don’t worry about it. Learn to plaster on a fake smile, thank them for the opinion you didn’t ask for and then move on with your day – whatever it takes to survive. If you know them well enough, you could even broach the subject and ask them to stop for awhile.

Finally, if you feel offended by the endless run of advice, then that’s normal too. It can feel like a criticism, like someone is saying you’re doing something wrong. You’re not. They’re just trying to involve themselves in your life and share what they feel is valuable experience. So let it drift past you without a second thought; you’ll feel all the better for it.

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