Tired tales from the parenting coal-face: Mum of two Emily shares stories and solidarity while listening to Let it Go for the millionth time.

Emily Writes: Before you take on parenting advice

Every family is different. Every child is different. What works for my child won't work for yours. Photo / Getty
Every family is different. Every child is different. What works for my child won't work for yours. Photo / Getty

Attempting to watch the news while having my temperature taken by the toddler doctor and making smooching noises at the Christmas Ham (a.k.a, the baby, pink and delicious) an ad comes on for a current affairs show. Something alarming: ARE YOU BUILDING UP YOUR CHILDREN TOO MUCH? DO THEY HAVE TOO MUCH CONFIDENCE? And some soundbites from experts telling us about the new way we are ruining our kids by loving them too much.

And I thought to myself - without even thinking it, if you get my drift - Hmm, I should watch that. I am always encouraging Eddie and I do build him up. What if I'm hurting him? What if I'm doing the opposite?

Then suddenly, like a lightening bolt to my sleep deprived brain, I realise how bloody absurd it was that I was even considering watching some BS from parenting "experts" who want to tell me how to love my child (but not too much that they become serial killers or something).

I'm saying no to experts.

I'm saying no to the countless people who MAKE MONEY from telling parents they're doing everything wrong. By not putting them to sleep the right way. By using the wrong product. By not feeding them the way that expert says they should be fed. By not putting them on a schedule or by putting them in a routine. Or letting them dress themselves or not using time out or not setting the right boundaries in the right places. It's never ending. It's relentless. It's bullsh*t.

I can't keep up with the advice and 99 per cent of it goes against what I feel is right. And if it doesn't feel right - why the hell am I doing it? Who knows my sons better than I do? Nobody. Nobody does. Why would I ever consider that building up my sensitive child is hurting him? Why would I believe some expert who is trying to sell me something over what I know is true about my little boy?

Why would I leave my little one to cry at night just because someone who has never met him insists it's the only way to get him to sleep? I know this isn't true because my older one sleeps (most of the time) and I always cuddled him and rocked him and fed him to sleep. I co-slept and he doesn't sleep with us (most nights) anymore. So why do I ever consider for a moment that an expert who will charge me $150 a "consultation" is correct when they say co-sleeping means he'll never sleep on his own?

I think maybe I know why. I think it's the same reason any of us look to books or experts or websites: We will do anything for our kids and we're desperate to do the right thing by them. We don't ever want to hurt them. We want them to sleep. We need them to sleep. We want them to feel confident, but also safe, and loved. What parent doesn't want that? And if we think the answer lies in a book well of course we will bloody read it.

But reading everything and listening to every expert isn't helping me - it's making me stop trusting myself. It's making me anxious.

So no more experts. I'm trusting my gut. I'm surrendering to where I'm at now with sleep. I'm listening to myself when I remind myself at 2am that we've been through this before and all kids eventually sleep. I am refusing to listen to things that make no logical sense like "loving your kids too much" or "babies don't need milk overnight after X weeks". I'm reminding myself that these experts MAKE MONEY from my fear and my love for my children.

I'm tired of people telling parents they're not doing it right so that they can tell them how to do it.

I'm choosing my own experts. I'm listening to my sister who parents bravely and honestly. I can see her children are growing up in an environment where they're built up to be strong and resilient but also allowed to own and honour their feelings. I'm listening to my friends who are mums - who give their perspectives without judgement, who share their joy and their pain with me so I know I'm not alone. I'm listening to mums in this community who reach out across the world to say "Hey, you're doing great> It's OK. This worked for me, I don't know if it will work for you but let's share our experiences here so we can do this together."

I'm also choosing the experts who don't call themselves experts. They're the ones who aren't constantly pushing their products and forcing clickbait bullsh*t such as "The 10 ways you're destroying your kids" to get you to buy their book.

I'm choosing experts like Pinky Mckay. Pinky was the first expert I saw who told me to trust my instincts. To ask myself questions about parenting and then to actually respect and honour my answers. This, from Pinky, is the best advice I've ever received about... umm...taking advice:

Whenever you hear advice that doesn't feel quite right to you or if you hear about a new approach and you aren't quite certain about it, it is good to put this through your filters and do a check in. To make this simple I have three questions you can ask yourself:

Is it safe? Is it respectful? Does it feel right?

So, nope, I won't be tuning into this show that is all about telling me I need to build up my child's confidence by saying they're great but not too great and only great when they're doing something great and *screams forever*.

I know my sons. I know the Ham loves milk. I know he loves kisses behind his ears. I know that when he screams at night and I go to him and he's wound tight like a little spring and he's sweaty and scared and I hold him to me - I know he stops crying. I know his little body softens in my arms. I know he stops flailing about as soon as we touch. That's all the evidence I need that I'm doing the right thing, by him and by me, by going to him again and again and again and again.

I know my Eddie has nightmares and he needs to tell me about it even if it's 4am. And once he's told me and we have a cuddle he can go back to sleep. My evidence is that when he's scared and shaking and he leaps into my arms his breathing stops being laboured as he presses his cheek to my cheek and his shoulders drop and his hands stop wringing. I can see that letting him come to us is working for us.

Every family is different. Every child is different. What works for my child won't work for yours. What works for yours won't work for mine. Or maybe it will. Either way - it doesn't matter. We might all be muddling through, trying to be good parents, but that's enough I reckon - we're trying to do our best.

We are the experts when it comes to our kids - Let's trust ourselves. Let's ask for help when we need it. Support each other. Share our experiences. But remember we know our kids best. If it's safe, and respectful, and it feels right by us - then we can't be doing it all wrong.

- NZ Herald

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Tired tales from the parenting coal-face: Mum of two Emily shares stories and solidarity while listening to Let it Go for the millionth time.

Emily Writes is a mum of two gorgeous boys under three. Her blog Mama Said took off when she wrote her first post about the ways parents are silenced - it went viral and since then she's been writing about the joy and heartbreak of parenting to a huge audience. Emily lives in Wellington with her husband and they're both really sick of picking Countdown cards and dominoes off the floor of their lounge. Once a week, we will share posts from Emily on what it's really like in the sleep-deprived world of parenting.

Read more by Emily Writes

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