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Jan 12 2011

What Happened To Mother’s Intution?

By at 1:46 pm

Over-programmed, over-scheduled, over-analyzed, over-commercialized. Over reliant- on books, internet experts and consultants.

What happened to “mother’s intuition?” To the “park-bench” where moms shared child-rearing stories? To getting advice from one’s mother, grandmother, sister or older friend? To schmoozing with others about common concerns?

Like the boomers’ recollection of the military industrial complex, the new millennium has produced the child industrial complex. Why has parenthood become commercialized? Doulas, lactation consultants, sleep experts, infant PT, OT and massage (how stressed could those babies possibly be?) Babies seem to “need” a lot more these days. And there are an awful lot of experts to advise their parents. And those experts are making lots of money preying on the insecurities of those parents.

I had one reference book, Dr. Spock’s. Now parents have stacks of books about pregnancy, birth, infancy, breastfeeding, sleeping/ not sleeping, how to play with your baby, how not to play with your baby. how to feed your baby, what to feed your baby, what not to feed your baby. Cookie Monster is a pariah because he loves cookies, not kale. (Yuck.)

As far as I’m concerned, if it’s not in Dr. Spock, it’s not a big problem. Children have not evolved much in the course of one generation to have acquired a host of new disorders.

Every parental decision seems fraught with drama. Every detail is researched and scrutinized. Every fad dutifully followed so as not to disadvantage your child. There is even a book calling it like it is- “Paranoid Parenting”!

Well, I’ve got news, mom and dad! YOU are the expert on your child. Trust your gut. Don’t set your kid and yourself up for disappointment and feelings of failure because your one-year old wanders off during music class or needs to work on “balance” issues at his gym class. Don’t pathologize normal development. Of course you want to be on the lookout for a real disability but most kids get to each successive developmental stage on their own. At their own pace. Developing their own interests. Becoming their own selves.

There is a book titled, Parenting Experts: Their Advice, the Research and Getting It Right. I did not open the book but believe me, even the title gets it wrong.

Trust yourself. Choose a pediatrician you like, respect and with whom you have rapport. Preferably one who is not alarmist and has children of her own. Talk to other parents in the same trench. Maybe even bounce a few things off your mom.

If you make sure that your kid feels like the most important thing in your life, that you love her/him intensely and unconditionally, you’ll get it right.  At least most of the time.

And that’s the most you can reasonably expect.


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3 Responses to What Happened To Mother’s Intution?

  1. Mary Ruth Andrews says:

    I also had Dr. Spock, and a very old La Leche League book. I had an excellent pediatrician, and I also read everything I could get my hands on. That doesn’t mean I believed it all, and that’s where my mother’s intuition set in. If it seemed ridiculous, then I didn’t take it to heart. All of my relatives lived far away, and we were poor. Breastfeeding was the sensible thing to do, although foreign to me because I don’t recall any of my relatives breastfeeding. I was determined to do what was the best for my child. Even the most qualified pediatrician misses things,(he’s only human) but I trusted him with my childrens’ lives. He would tell me to relax, and just love them, and he would gently kiss the baby on the forehead before he handed him back to me. We do the best we can, and learn to let go of the rest.

  2. Yes, I was nodding my head in agreement here but I think the biggest difference between our generation and previous generations is that we can no longer depend on a close-knit community of family and friends to guide us through. Mothers in the days of old didn’t go it alone– they had a village. My mother’s mother died when my mother was 17, and my father’s parents were Florida snowbirds by the time my sisters and I were born. We have a village, too and it’s in books and on the Internet. You get help where you can!

  3. homeshuling says:

    i agree with the overall spirit, but must say that without a good lactation consultant I would not have succeeded in breastfeeding my daughter after issues with low milk supply. Perhaps in your generation, you could turn to your mothers if you chose to breastfeed and needed help, but for many of us, breastfeeding skipped a generation, so we can’t turn to our mothers. And sometimes, well, it’s hard! My instincts in that case were totally off.

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