MamaBlogger365 – Who’s The Boss?! by, Peryl Manning

How To Be Comfortable With The Parent You Are’

It’s easy, as a new parent, or even as an old (or should I say “less new”) parent to be overwhelmed by the parenting rules and lists and guides and chronicles and books and classes all around us. When my first child was nine weeks old, we interviewed a nanny, who asked us what our parenting philosophy was. I ad-libbed for bit, and then finally had to ask her what exactly she meant. My 23 year old nanny candidate then patiently gave me an overview of “Attachment” Parenting versus “Babywise” Parenting, and I had to admit that we were more “by the seat of our pants” parenting. Of course I had opinions about parenting, anyone over the age of seven probably does, and my husband and I had discussed what values we wanted to instill in our children, and how to go about doing so. But I didn’t know that there were defined parenting philosophies, and that I might be expected to have one. And I found this just a little bit intimidating. My son was nine weeks old and I was already behind on my homework.

During his first six months, I read several parenting books touting different philosophies and methods, trying unsuccessfully to find the one that exactly suited our family. I would invariably end up frustrated when I tried to impose one system or another – usually something to do with getting my angel to go to sleep without destroying my eardrums and my sanity. The latest philosophy, system, or set of rules I attempted to follow, which seemed so entirely rational and inoffensive when it was words on a page next to a picture of a peaceful sleeping infant (oh, for that infant to be mine, I would breathe reverently) inevitably failed when actually faced with a real child.

While there is certainly useful information to be found in every parenting book (excellent swaddling tips, how to properly warm a baby bottle, etc…), I failed each time I tried to implement one of the “systems” recommended. They left me feeling beaten down and berated. You’re doing it wrong, they whispered as I flipped through the pages while breastfeeding for the twelfth time in the last four hours. If you don’t do what I say, your child will be emotionally distant, unable to form meaningful relationships, and will never, ever be able to tie his shoes. And to add flavour to my misery, the next book would tell me to do the opposite, unless I wanted to end up with a college student unable to take a nap without his mommy, or eat his dinner without applause. But, but…I appealed to the pages…how do I know which one of you is RIGHT? Being a strict rule follower (the only time I’ve every truly rebelled against my Canadian-lefty-intellectual-hippie-dippy-west-coast-basically-agnostic-but-sometimes-Jewish-all-inclusive family was when I married a Republican from New York – really, what else did they give me to rebel against?) it hurts my head when I can’t apply the rules exactly.

It wasn’t until late into my son’s first year that I realized something stunning. Something that allowed me to take a deep breath and toss all of the offending books out the window (not really, of course we donated them. Or recycled them. or something equally environmentally pleasing). The authors of these books were all, like me, JUST GUESSING. There are, in fact, no rules. Just lots and lots of guesses of varying quality. And ultimately, while it’s great to listen to what people have to say, and educate myself as much as I can, beyond the few basic axioms about child rearing, which pretty much boil down to love them like crazy and do your best, it’s up to me. I can consider the useful suggestions offered by others, but I make the rules. No one else does.Mama is the boss.

 

Peryl and J

BIO: Peryl Manning is a freelance writer and stay-at-home-mother to two small boys. She juggles her home and her boys, her writing and her volunteer work with varying degrees of success, and is convinced of only one certainty: Parenting is really, really challenging. Since being blindsided and overwhelmed, overjoyed and then at times underwhelmed by the whole business of motherhood, she has had a lot to say about it, and says some of it here. ’Parenting ad absurdum’ is now on twitter: @momadabsurdum. Should I be following you? Let me know! And if you would like to be on my highly classified secret double-lockdown mailing list to be advised of new posts, leave a note or send an email to parentingadabsurdum@gmail.com. http://blog.seattlepi.com/parentingadabsurdum/ 

Additional Reading. Wall Street Journal: Tiger Mother – Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior

 

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16 Responses to “MamaBlogger365 – Who’s The Boss?! by, Peryl Manning”
  1. blueviolet says:

    You said it! You have to kinda take it with a grain of salt and think of it as suggestions or guidelines. Children are so different from each other, so there can’t possibly be one hard and fast way of doing things.

  2. veronica lee says:

    I agree with blueviolet. Every child is unique and sometimes we just have to play by ear.

  3. Nicole says:

    Hey Boss Lady! You are the boss & know one can micro manage the way we raise our kids unless we let them!

  4. Dawn says:

    That’s right! The parent knows their child best and should be the one to make the rules. Well said.

  5. Natalie says:

    My children are still very young, but I’m finding out quickly how different it is to parent each one! They all have different needs, wants, disciplines, skills…on and on…and a lot of the time I feel I’m making things up as I go along. That being said, I agree that we know our kids best and need to be the ones making the rules.

  6. Mrs.Mayhem says:

    I pored over parenting books with my first child, which was definitely a mistake. There’s a lot to be said for getting to know our children, and then parenting “by the seat of our pants.” This is an excellent article.

  7. Joy says:

    I spent so much time reading parenting books when I was pregnant and then right after my daughter was born, I sometimes wonder how I kept my sanity with all the conflicting advice. This is a great piece of advice for new moms-trust yourself and I love your “by the seat of our pants” parenting philosophy.

  8. Motpg says:

    So very well said. “love them like crazy and do your best”, exactly! You can’t get more expert than that.

  9. Jhene says:

    More Peryl, please! She ROCKS!

  10. Jhene says:

    More Peryl, please! She ROCKS! Always thoughtful, intelligent and FUNNY!

  11. Mandyland says:

    What a fantastic article!

    You’re so right….Mama IS the boss and we’re also the parenting experts in our homes. I sometimes think those books do more harm than good – especially to a sleep-deprived new mom.

  12. Oh, you are speaking my language Peryl! I absolutely love this post and everything you said rings true. We must be on the same wavelength or something but you certainly say it and write it much better than me :)

    Thank you for this great article…yes, I hope all moms out there realize that we know way more about our own children than we give ourselves credit for.

  13. I agree with you!!!! 150% Are you getting a regular column here? Because you should!! Love Mamazina and love you, Peryl! xoxoxoxoo

  14. Awesome post as usual Peryl! And so true about all these “experts” and the reality that they’re just guessing. Mama is the boss! Thanks for always bringing a smile to my face. :)

  15. Isn’t finding your way with the first child, while being sleep-deprived and hormonally driven, sheer craziness? I read lots of books those first few months and ended up taking bits and pieces, adding a dash of nurturing there, a dose of scheduling there, and my husband spiced up the parenting routine even more. But we came up with a pretty good recipe and so far, so good.

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