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.