Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Parenting Magazines

I got a free subscription to a well-known parenting magazine.  I enjoy reading magazines so I read it and laugh.  No, it's not supposed to be comical, but it is if you've been parenting babies as long as I have.

Twenty-one years ago when I was pregnant with my first baby I was totally completely clueless as to what I needed to do to take care of a baby.  So once he was born I began to read these magazines to learn what to do.  I picked up on all the new stresses very quickly as I learned what was right and what was wrong.  Parents that came before me did it all wrong, but the experts had it figured out and my generation couldn't fail.  We had all the answers now.

Fast forward a few years.  I'd already gone through infancy with a couple of kids when they came out with the new "back to sleep" campaign.  If you paid enough attention you knew that if you ever were to lay a baby to sleep on their tummy, they would die.  Ahem.  I'd just done that with two kids and they survived.  My mother confessed that yes, all five of her children made it through infancy sleeping on their tummies.  So I continued.  Later they came out with the idea of babies sleeping on their sides.  I'm not sure when, but I think it was my 5th baby when I was asked if I had a sleep positioner.  A what?  No, I lay them on their tummies.  I got looks like I was totally clueless.  Yep.  That's me.  Mom of five and completely ignorant as to how to put a baby to sleep.  So I laughed pretty hard when I read that sleep positioners are dangerous and should never be used.  Then I realized it isn't funny at all that babies died because the "experts" were guessing at things.

Flip through a few more pages and find an article about how to feed your child nuts.  What?  That's another area where people have told me I am nuts because I feed them to my children.  Well, they used to be considered healthy.  We all ate them.  Peanut butter was a staple in nearly every home.  But so many kids are allergic these days.  Oh, um, well, the "experts" are currently guessing that maybe by not exposing children to nuts early enough, they are more likely to develop an allergy to them.  (I won't even discuss that some believe there could be a connection to vaccinations, too.  That would open up a whole new topic of what the "experts" say.)

 Then there was the whole smart baby craze.  I guess that really never ends, but just changes its face every few years.  Remember the videos that were supposed to make all our babies become as smart as Einstein?  I recently read that exposure to TV, even educational TV, causes a baby to develop slower. 

It's just comical really.  The "experts" can never make up their minds what is good and what is bad.  It changes with every few years.  So new parents, I have a bit of advice.  In spite of what all the "experts" say, don't worry too much about all the little things.  Trust your instinct, your "mother's intuition" (I'm sure dad's have it too).  That's one thing that doesn't fail me as long as I listen to it.  Those Mom hunches I get where I just know this is what we should or shouldn't do are usually right.  Sometimes I kick myself because I ignored it.  Other times I am grateful I paid attention.  Try not to stress out about things, but just enjoy your child.  Do the best you can. 

The nurses in the hospital when I had my first child told me they could tell I was going to be a good mom.  I asked how in the world they could see that already.  They said, "because it's clear you love him and that is all that matters.  The rest will follow."  Notice, they didn't tell me to be his best friend and be sure he's always happy.  Love your baby and the rest will follow.

And laugh at the magazines.  Laughter is the best medicine.

(This post is dedicated to Stephen and Chonie.  I'm fairly certain y'all are going to be excellent parents.)