by Bethany Lynch
We make decisions many times in life to go against the grain. It usually isn’t easy or fun but we know it’s what we need to do. There are certain patterns we know we don’t want to follow. Most parents even teach their children not to go with crowd-led decisions, not to be afraid to stand apart.
There is also something deep within us, especially as moms, that longs for companionship and friendship and the ability to identify with others. We desire to fellowship with other like-minded moms often with similar parenting philosophies. Babywise is a great example. I have learned so much from other moms that have taught me how to add structure, how to be more flexible, how to use creative consequences, how to require first time obedience. These things are not unique to Babywise but it has been a strategy that has worked very well for our family.
Even within such a strong parenting philosophy, there have been times I have felt like we needed to go against the grain. What was in a book or among the majority of like-minded moms was not working for us or did not feel right. Although this is starting to sound like a discouraging post about the -wise series, it is not by any means. I couldn’t agree more with many of the things in the entire -wise series, and with any book, there will be things you should take/leave or modify for your family. However, I sense that many of us feel wrong for doing what is right for our family. I wanted to write this post as an encouragement to do what is in your heart or gut.
I think "start as you mean to go on" is always a good place to start and a great consideration before making any big changes, but don’t be afraid to make changes…even if you are in the minority. By all means, ask for advice and consider what is recommended by seasoned moms as well as newer moms with fresh perspectives….but don’t be afraid to go against the grain. Some of the best decisions we have made have been a bit unusual and non-traditional but they turned out to be smart decisions specific to *our* family. After all, one of the strongest tenants of Babywise is being parent-directed.
Here are the top 5 thoughts I have for deciding whether to make a change:
1. How long have you tried something? Keep in mind as older as your children get, the longer you may need to be consistent in your efforts. Often it also feels like we’ve tried something day in and day out but in reality time has passed slower. My general rule of thumb for infants/toddlers is two weeks minimum and for older toddlers/preschoolers two months minimum.
2. How many things have you tried? My caution is not to try too much. Be consistent foremost and avoid making multiple changes. I loathe troubleshooting. I am horrible at it, and when I try, I usually end up doing way too many things. I have no idea what works or doesn’t. Keeping things simple and trying one thing at a time for a sufficient period of time has served me much better. It is still hard not to want to "fix" things quickly but what works for "most" moms really might not work for you.
3. Have you thought outside the box? Don’t be afraid to consider advice from moms that are not like-minded either. We have a lot to teach each other. No two kids are alike…especially of your own. I learn every day that my kids respond completely different to similar situations. It doesn’t mean you need completely different parenting strategies for each child but it might require some creativity when you don’t get the same response from each child.
4. Do you feel uneasy? We all know parenting is so extremely hard and without adequate instruction manuals…but there have been a few times as a parent that I *knew* something was not sitting right with me. Something bothered me. I had put in lots of hard work and it just was not working well. Don’t be afraid to admit that you need to do something else.
5. Who do you feel is influencing you? Hopefully you feel on the same page as your spouse. The times that my husband and I made an unpopular or unusual decision but were down to the same paragraph made those decisions all the better. There have been times we disagreed and I definitely felt differently than him. Make sure you are still considering what is right for your family…not just what works for other families. Seek advice! Learn from others…but make sure you are always willing to take the risk of doing things different if it is in the best interest of your marriage, your family, your children, and yourself.
Bethany writes a blog to encourage and inspire working moms at The Graceful Mom. She is a busy but passionate wife and mom to two children, ages 5 and 3.