by Andi

As Moms, we could all benefit from the elusive Parenting Manual that is always mentioned, unfortunately, only in reference to the fact that it, in fact, does not actually exist. That’s right. There isn’t any such thing as a parenting manual, the How-To be a mom, dad … person in charge of another person. Yikes. When you have a baby, you do not leave the hospital with a set of instructions, inconvenient, tho it may be.

And while there are hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of articles, blogs, books, sets of standards and pieces of advice, I have yet to hear of the one that sums it all up in a way that could be considered the Official Parenting Handbook, Guidebook or Manual. There is no official right way to raise a child, to parent. 

We all make our own rules. Which I guess is nice, right? I mean, yeah, in life it’s great when we get to make the rules, decide, be in charge. It’s what we, as kids, dreamed of. I can’t wait for the day when I’m in charge of my own life.

Where’s The Big Inconvenience?

While it’s nice to be in charge, it’s not until you actually are that you realize, oh, um… what am I supposed to do about such and such? And ‘such and such’ is really a surprisingly huge amount of things, a mountain, actually, that never seems to stop growing. This is decidedly inconvenient.

In Search Of Answers

So, as a new mom, you can realistically expect to be looking all around you for answers for quite a while. Things change so quickly when your child is growing. Newborn doesn’t even resemble one or two, and five isn’t the same as ten. Don’t even get me started on the teen years and young adult children.

You seek out advice. You read books. And sometimes you come across what seems like good ideas. But then you talk to friends, siblings, your mom, and they contradict the things you’ve read and heard. You’ve made observations on what appears to be working for others and those contradict the contradictions. You can’t quite get it right, and just when something seems to be working, you are hit with the negative outcome that has resulted in your following advice that was bad and you only realize that when it’s too late.

Yep, your first child is a guinea pig and your second one can also be considered an experiment based on improvements, tweaks, and changes made in response to what you now believe were mistakes made with the first. 

Oh, You Have Two Cents? Nobody Needs Two Cents.

I’ve been a mom for more than 22 years and have parented in a combination of ways. First, I was really just winging it. So, as described above, yes, my first two kids were guinea pigs. Improvements were made when I found that something didn’t work out too well with kid number one. I’m not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but one thing I have tried to do is not repeat mistakes. I’m sure I have at some point, but lesson learned, if at all possible, don’t repeat mistakes!

So, at age 19 when I first became a mom, I was definitely still a child myself inside my own head. This is a retrospective assessment, obviously, as I’d believed myself ready to be a mom at the time. I had a lot to learn. 

Advice comes from everywhere when you are a first-time mom. It comes from your mom, grandparents, older siblings (I didn’t have any of those, but am one to my brothers and sisters), friends and aunts. Then there are the doctors at well-baby checkups, your neighbors, the cashier at the grocery store. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone wants to give you their two cents. What you’re doing, what you should be doing, what you’re doing wrong, what you should never do, what works, what they did that seems outrageous but worked out in the end because my kids turned out fine. And then, when you question how your own parents did something and they say, look at you! You turned out fine!

Eeek! You’ve been bombarded with exactly one dollar worth of information, all two cents at a time. One hundred pennies worth of information, carelessly left in couch cushions, the washer, junk drawers, the cup holder in your car, on top of the refrigerator, at the bottom of the purse you stopped using two years ago … on the sidewalk. In other words, it’s not likely to do you much good. And in the big picture, all the bits and pieces, when put together are little more than a bunch of useless words any of which are unlikely to have produced a positive outcome influenced by anything other than blind luck, which is highly unlikely. 

Where To Find The Best Parenting Advice Possible

If you are lucky, your mom will be one of the best resources when it comes to parenting. Unfortunately, not everyone is lucky. If you are one of many well adjusted, respectful, productive, hardworking, humble, successful siblings, do not underestimate the parenting gold mine that is your own mother.

Unlike the two cents worth of so-called advice that everyone may be throwing at you, unsolicited, what you have been and are currently able to observe on your own is maybe the best resource you will find. That along with asking questions of those who appear to have done something right.

If you have friends or family with a family situation you desperately want to avoid, make a mental note of that. Advice that comes from those people will be mostly junk. Parents with jobless, basement-dwelling thirty-year olds should be a red flag, as should parents of blatantly disobedient, mouthy teens. Avoid advice from parents who can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to producing what you see as spoiled brats. Don’t get me wrong, conversations with them will, indeed, be helpful. But only in the sense of learning what not to do

Beware Of Advice That Seems Too Good To Be True

Again, consider the source. Look at the kids. If it sounds good, take whatever it is and look at the outcome. The kids are the best proof of whether or not whatever it is, actually works. 

What’s The Best Advice You Have On Parenting?

Something no one ever told you? The one thing I had to learn the hard way was not to hold my baby all day every day for the first few weeks because it results in inevitable crying when you finally decide to put him down. There was no such thing as Google when I experienced the repercussion of this unfortunate mistake. Had there been, just based on what’s out there now, the answer would have been pretty hard to find even though it’s as simple as simple can be. Either way, it was too late for me at that time to avoid the problem, but I did not repeat it.  


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