Choosing Wisdom Over Parenting Advice
From the moment I shared the news that I was pregnant with my first-born I received wanted, and the oh-so-dreaded unwanted advice, about everything related to my body and then my baby, and now these days how to parent two toddler boys very close in age. I remember filling out a form for a care provider early after my first was born that asked, “what’s your parenting method?” and being stumped, then feeling guilty that I didn’t know the options nor had decided upon one. I finally just wrote “loving our children and trying to do the best we can.”
There is so much parenting advice, so much that the world presents to us as choices that we must make to define ourselves as a certain type of parent… assumably the “right kind” and the “best kind”. Before we even have a real understanding of our children it seems we must already have an opinion and a method of discipline, communication, meal times, technology, toys, school types…
There is a place for parenting advice, and I am grateful for it. I am the first to admit that I am a googler and parenting book hoarder of every challenge and question … and while it has been incredibly helpful at times it can also be dangerous. The issue is that I will always find adamant voices on every corner of every issue and it leaves me feeling totally alone, more confused, anxious, and typically more guilt-ridden about parenting the “wrong way”. I remember at the height of one of our dark days of the “OMG where did my sweet baby go and who replaced him with this monstrous toddler”, my husband requested that I “PLEASE stop googling”. I always judged him for not doing more reading of all the resources I had collected and emailed to him on a regular basis to help us navigate our way through this unknown world of parenthood. He looked me in the eye and said: “What do YOU think we should do?” I didn’t know… that’s why I was googling! But the more I thought about it the more I realized how right he was in asking me, asking us, to tap into our inner wisdom. We were the parents of this child, and at the end of the day, we knew the right thing to do – typically just the next right thing. To know what that next right thing is requires us to be a little more present with our children and self aware in the thick of the hard times (when all I want to do is disappear, scroll mindlessly through Facebook and drink a large glass of red wine), which requires wayyy more self care (which also does include wine at the right times but for the right reasons) so that we can be more grounded when shit literally hits the wall (it's happened!).
When it came to creating an app that shared encouragement and inspiration for mamas we knew the litmus test for what we share and create is that it’s never parenting advice. (There are plenty of resources for that!) We want to share and spread reminders of our own wisdom and to spotlight the power of self care. Our definition of wisdom is that it leaves us feeling empowered, not alone, and it is grounded in self-care and self-compassion. This is how I filter what I hear and read these days – if it leaves me feeling guilty or anxious… it’s not wisdom, and it’s not for me.