We live in a world filled with information, which is both a blessing and a curse. When I learned I was pregnant with my first son seven years ago, I found myself anxious about the task ahead. Raising a child, being responsible for another life physically and emotionally, was not something I took lightly. I did what most moms do. I began reading every baby book, signed up for a baby group, and started researching all the different parenting methods out there. I found myself very overwhelmed. For every article that said one thing, there was another article that contradicted it. To sleep train or not to sleep train? Have I failed my child if I can’t breastfeed? At what age should my child start school? Are time-outs a bad idea? Am I over-scheduling my child? The list is endless.
A lot of the information out there takes a microscopic view on parenting and forgets to view it on a macro level. One of my favorite parenting books is Raising Children That Other People Like to Be Around by Richard E. Greenberg. This is written by a father of four who gives a really simplistic approach to raising children. The lesson I have learned is that every child has different needs. It’s really important to do what works for your child. I believe in a child-centered plan. First, you evaluate your child’s specific needs and personality and adjust your parenting method based on that. I try to do my best to block out the judgments from the outside world and not pay too much attention to the current parenting fads.
Once I had my second son I really gained a clear understanding of how each child is born with a different personality, and what works for one child doesn’t always work for the other. For example, with my oldest son, I know he is slow to warm and gets overwhelmed with big crowds. With him, I always make sure to get places early and give him time to adjust. My younger son is totally fine arriving at a crowded party and just jumping into the activities. There is no one-size-fits-all method.
It’s OK to make mistakes along the way. As the famous psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott taught, you just have to be a good enough parent, not a perfect one, and children benefit when their mothers fail them in manageable ways. Your kids are learning by watching you make mistakes and solve problems. They also learn that it’s OK to make a mistake. It’s never too late to rectify or change the way you are doing things if it doesn’t feel right. We all come to the table with our own childhood experiences, some good and some bad. Sometimes we even find ourselves repeating things that our parents did that we swore we would never do. Being aware of this and making small changes along the way can make a huge difference.
We all feel lost or unsure at times, and it’s always OK to seek help. None of us can do this alone. There is a reason people say it takes a village. You can always ask a trusted friend or family member for advice. A well-recommended therapist can also help. First and foremost, always trust your gut and make sure that the information you are getting makes sense to you.
Lexie Messinger was born and raised in Los Angeles. She graduated with a BS from FIT in Manhattan, New York. Lexie then went on to work in marketing and PR for Guess Jeans and 7 For All Mankind. She currently resides in Los Angeles and is the mom of two boys, ages two and six.