• It seems like every week my wife comes home with a new parenting plan that she’s read online or from one of her magazine subscriptions. Sometimes I just can’t keep up with her. She must read it all while waiting at the doctor’s office and then comes home and just unloads new tips and the most recent parenting trend on what we have to do to raise our children. Sure some of the tips are helpful and based on experience and research. However, others appear to be way out there and seem to change every couple of years or so as if they’re not really sure what exactly works. So, they come up with new things for us to try and use our children as the guinea pigs. And G-d forbid if you don’t follow the current trend – everyone looks at you like you’re some uneducated or crazy hippie. In which case of course, being the good Samaritans that they are, they’ll decide that they will be the ones to enlighten you and offer their opinion about how you should feed, educate, bond and socialize with your child.

    While I’m not trying to shoot myself in the foot with this article, I do believe that continuous growth through education and experience is very important. Yet, I find it impossible to come up with one specific recipe that uniformly works to raise each of my own four children, much less come up with a formula that will work for someone else’s children. Circumstances and personalities are so diverse that no “cookie-cutter” recommendation could account for all the differences. We learned the hard way with the first of our children when we tried to implement recommendations given to us by the hospital staff for regimented feeding, bonding and sleeping schedules. Our daughter just wasn’t having it and we were told that we just needed to stick with it through all of our daughter’s crying and our frustration.

    After all, they were the experts and we were new to this whole parenting thing.

    When it didn’t seem to work, we simply internalized the blame and thought that we weren’t implementing it properly or weren’t strong enough to tough it out. So, we tried to be more rigid and worked on being desensitized to our daughter’s cries. But that never happened! I just couldn’t do it and it was painful every time. They told us that eventually she would stop crying and would realize that she’s not going to get her way. But that never made sense to us and went against everything instinctual about parenting.

    After a brief trial-and-error period with our first child (sorry, Rachel), we decided that we were not going to follow every recommendation given to us. It sounds obvious but when you’re a first-time parent, you’re afraid to go against the grain and against recommendations from “professionals” just in case you mess things up. Maybe we just gave up because we were tired or frustrated and just wanted a change. But it definitely turned out for the better since we made our own adjustments to her schedule. Basically we became more flexible and were more in tune with her needs. It turns out that it’s not rocket science and your lparenting instincts and common sense can generally guide you through most of parenting. Now if you lack that, then please follow the recipe to a tee. The key is to learn as much as possible but then to find the balance of what works for your specific child. The only guarantee that I can give you is that each and every one of them will all be very different. As long as you have an overall plan of guidance and discipline and you are flexible enough to tailor it to your child’s developmental needs, then you should be fine. Keep the good tips and discard the rest or else you’ll drive yourself and your family crazy!