MamaBlogger365 – Finding the Right Parenting Solutions by Kate Fineske

When I was a new mom I had a MAJOR issue.

It seemed for every question I ever had on parenting, there always tended to be a million completely different answers to solve my parenting problem. And that just didn’t fly with me.

For instance:

– My friends who already had kids offered their answers (based on what had worked for them)
– My mother and mother-in-law offered their answers (based on what they remembered from having their own kids)
– My pediatrician offered his answers (strictly based on my baby)
– My OBGYN offered her answers (strictly based on my body)
– My lactation consultant and the hospital nurses had their answers (based on their training)
– And whatever “be-a-better-mom” book I happened to be reading at the time always had its answers too (often portrayed as being the only right answers)

And all these above answers to the EXACT same questions were ALL DIFFERENT.

How could that be?

Where was my “mommy manual”?

Photo courtesy Kate Fineske

As a new mom, I was so confused.

How could so many people feel so certain that they knew the correct equation to solve my parenting questions, yet have SO MANY different solutions?

This began my first big life lesson as a mom:

Everyone has an opinion.

(And I mean EVERYONE!)

And over the years, within this one BIG life lesson, came three important “mini” lessons that I have also learned to remember and which have helped me through some tough decisions.

LESSON 1: There is a BIG difference between answers and advice.

Everyone has advice. However, not all advice provides the right answer.

When I first became a mom I thought of parenting problems like a math equation. 2 + 2 always equaled 4, so adding Step A with Step B should equal the same end result of Step C. Right?

WRONG. What I found was that what works for one mom isn’t always going to work for another.
I used to pull my hair out thinking, “What am I doing wrong? What am I missing? Why is this not working for me?” When, what I should have done is just moved on.

Some things that work for other moms just don’t work for me. Period. And that’s OK. Advice can lead to solutions. Having said that, advice doesn’t always provide a solution.

LESSON 2: Take advice with a “grain of salt”.

People are always going to want to share what worked well for them as a parent. Accept it, but maintain a degree of skepticism about its truth.

Why? Because only YOU have the full story behind what works and doesn’t work FOR YOU.

As a new mom, I needed to learn to trust my own instincts. By listening to my instincts and also recognizing and learning from my mistakes, I can continue to make better choices for my family.

LESSON 3: Share Stories Instead of Advice

A wise woman once said to me:

“Giving advice makes us an outsider trying to solve other people’s problems without knowing all the details of the situation. In contrast, sharing our stories creates empathy, helps us learn more about the other person’s situation, and validates both our and the other person’s challenges.”

As a mom, I have an extraordinary ability to second guess myself and my decisions. I find that when I learn from other moms by listening to their stories, I am better able to filter their advice as it might specifically relate to me.

Learning through shared stories versus unsolicited advice tends to decrease my own level of second guessing. I don’t see other people’s stories as attacks to my parenting decisions, but as – well – their story!

A Simple Solution?

So, where is my mommy manual? What is the best way to parent our children? In my opinion, there isn’t one simple solution to parenting properly.

Over the years I have learned that only I can determine what equals the right solution for me and my family. Only you can determine the right solution for you and your family.

And, although I still ask for advice (not answers!), often I spend more time listening to other mom’s stories. Because it is through their stories, that I seem to find my best personal solutions.

What about you?

This post has been contributed on behalf of The National Association of Mothers Centers, whose mission is to create a community of women, who through mutual support and public advocacy, explore, enrich and value the maternal experience.

The post author, Kate Fineske, currently is a staff member with the National Association of Mothers’ Centers where she maintains and provides the content to the Mothers Central Blog – the Parenting Blog of the NAMC. She is also responsible for helping the NAMC work to build stronger connections and support with the local Mothers’ Center Chapters nationally.

Kate is a longtime member of the National Association of Mothers’ Centers through her local chapter of the Mothers’ Center of Greater Toledo in Ohio. She and her husband are busy raising 3 children ages 1-8. Kate’s professional background is as a graphic designer in the creative and education industry. Since 2005, she has been using her professional skills by actively volunteering with the Mothers’ Center of Greater Toledo in various leadership positions. She also blogs personally at http://www.onthegomomma.net.

You can connect with Kate via Twitter (@katefineske) and/or also connect with the NAMC via twitter (@MothersCenters) or Facebook.

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