Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Let Me Give You a Little Advice

Where is that baby’s hat?

The first time you hear it, you’re not sure it’s for real. After all, you’re indoors, it’s 75 degrees, and your baby is perfectly happy.

Welcome to parenthood. Your baby is (apparently) everybody’s business.

As shocking as it is to get that kind of unsolicited advice, it's been equally surprising  for me to be asked for my opinion on child-rearing. I guess now that I've put myself out there as a “Mommy Blogger” (oh god, that sounds worse than “Soccer Mom” doesn’t it? I might have to rethink this whole thing) people are sometimes asking me for advice or what my parenting philosophies are.

I suppose if I had to come up with one, it would actually be based on the three bits of parenting advice I got and did subscribe to (all from people I cared about, not strangers). They were:

   1. “Just love them.” Something I heard my Grandmother Babci say countless times about raising babies. It’s the basis for everything else, isn’t it? 

  2.   “This is YOUR baby, YOU know what’s best for her.”  This is what my midwife told me when I went for my first follow-up checkup after giving birth to my first child. At that point I had been a babysitter, nanny and aunt for over a decade so had a lot of experience with babies and children. Hearing this, though, was a pivotal realization that I was the Mom this time—and that I was the expert on my baby. It was imperative for me to hear that to find my confidence as a mother. She told me that I knew what was best for my baby and it turned out she was absolutely right.

   3. "Never give anyone parenting advice unless they specifically ask for it.” The third one was something my former boss (and still friend) told me. It resonated with me but I didn’t think it’d apply--who’d be asking quirky me for advice? But ask they did! Even before I started blogging! One of my first real Mom friends had a son in between my first two kids and constantly had questions for me, like, “When do they stop pulling books off the shelves?” “When do they sleep through the night?” When, how, why . . .? Surprised as I was to be asked, I always tried to answer the best I could but always with the disclaimer that “they’re all different, what worked on mine might not work on yours!” And it’s really true: I’m on kid number five and still don’t know what I’m doing sometimes. 

   Which brings me to my parenting philosophy, a combination of all three:

1.    “Just love them”. When the tensions are high and so is the yelling voice, give yourself a time out and repeat this mantra.

2. “You’re the expert on your baby”. Listen to your intuition (and if that doesn’t work, consider that sometimes if it doesn’t work, you have to try something counterintuitive. I learned that one when one of my nursing babies used to bite my nipple. Instead of pulling baby off immediately as my intuition dictated, I learned to pull him closer to make him stop. Also applies to showing more love to the child who is acting particularly unlovable.)

3.  “Never give anyone parenting advice unless they specifically ask for it.” Likewise, remember to ask for advice when you need to. Just like you shouldn’t give advice unless it’s asked for, you might be surrounded by people who aren't offering you help because you're not asking for it. Yes, I do believe each parent is the expert on his or her own baby but sometimes a fresh perspective is needed. Sometimes you’re on kid number five and out of ideas for getting the hitting to stop.  Lean on your village. Be part of other families’ villages in return.

So there it is, for those who have asked or were curious: the most serious parenting philosophy I can come up with. Feel free to adhere to, take with a grain of salt or completely disregard. I trust your ability to parent your own child without my input. And if I ever see you out in public with a hat free baby, I promise to not ask where his or her hat is.


  1. I love this blog! You just described exactly how I feel about parenting, with humor to boot. The part about the hat made me laugh :) I love reading your posts.