Mouths To Feed- When You Mess Up
Here’s a tip for all you over achievers out there: The baby doesn’t know when you mess up.
Surely this is one of the reasons we get to start with babies instead of teenagers. The baby won’t tell on you or hold you accountable. You can do it differently the next time and no one will know that you messed it up the first time. So, relax. You don’t have to go into parenting with a plan for every eventuality. You might want to have a general idea of what to expect, though.
Enter prenatal classes.
Expecting moms and dads are encouraged to take childbirth preparation classes and new parents look forward to them. Movies and television love to portray childbirth classes where everyone is on the floor “hee-ing” and “hoo-ing”. Cute, but breathing through contractions is hardly necessary if you’re gonna get an epidural at 4 centimeters. There are many other things to learn and the childbirth classes in our local hospitals are great. They are fun, informative, and cover lots more than just “hee-hee-hooooo”.
But, “having a baby” is about more than just giving birth, though. Right? There’s no doubt that it’s important to prepare for this amazing, unforgettable day. But when it’s all said and done, it is just one day of your life. What about the days to follow?
Many of you have wonderful family and friends that will guide and advise you regarding those days. Perhaps you’re already swimming in the ocean of advice and need someone to help you sort it out. Taking additional infant feeding and parenting classes that address situations following the birth of your child can be unbelievably helpful.
After soaking up books and classes, spend some time sifting through the information with each other. Ask yourselves, “Does this make sense?” Also, talk to friends that have children and observe the results of their parenting style, then work backwards to how they did it. Finally, have an honest conversation with each other about your own childhoods. Talk about the things that you feel your parents did well, and things your parents did that you would like to avoid. Warning: Do NOT share the details of this conversation with your parents, unless you enjoy eating your words.
Remember, there’s more than one way to do most things. Parenting is no exception. Every family has its own identity and dynamic. Every child is an individual. Leave your minds open to options when the moments arrive that bring questions. Make your peace with the fact that you are going to make the wrong decision occasionally in your parenting. Relax. Remember, the baby will never know.
As for the older kids, they know. In that case, you can admit your mistake, ask for forgiveness, and move on. That’s a great life lesson to teach your child. Learning how to lead when you are wrong is just as important as learning how to lead when you are right.
Gloria Dudney, RN, IBCLC, RLC is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant and has taught new parent classes for more than 10 years.
Gloria Dudney, RN, IBCLC, RLC