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Image of a father and two children lying on a bed smiling up at the camera. Pink circle with the words: Shake off the parenting 'shoulds'

Shaking off the parenting 'shoulds'

Parenting is a journey filled with joy, challenges, and a constant stream of advice. From well-meaning relatives to parenting gurus, everyone seems to have an opinion on how you should raise your child. This abundance of advice, while often well-intentioned, can leave you feeling overwhelmed, confused, and like you’re constantly falling short of some unrealistic expectation.

In this whirlwind of parenting advice, it’s easy to get caught up in the “shoulds.” You may find yourself constantly comparing your parenting choices to others, feeling like you should be doing more, or doing things differently. This mindset can be a source of immense stress and anxiety, taking away from the joy of raising your child.

To break free from this cycle of self-doubt and comparison, it’s essential to shift your focus from what you “should” be doing to what your child truly needs from you. Here are some practical strategies to help you navigate the parenting advice maze and embrace your own unique parenting style:

  1. Recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to parenting. Every child is unique, with their own temperament, learning style, and emotional needs. What works for one family may not work for another. Embrace the individuality of your child and tailor your parenting approach accordingly.

  2. Trust your instincts and intuition. You know your child better than anyone else. Pay attention to your gut feelings, you may not always feel like it, but you know what’s right for you and your child.

  3. Stop comparing yourself to other parents. Social media and parenting forums can create a false sense of perfection, making it easy to compare your parenting journey to others. Remember, every family is on their own unique path, and every child develops at their own pace.

  4. Focus on your child’s individual needs and preferences. What makes your child feel loved, secure, and supported? What helps them learn, grow, and develop into a happy, well-adjusted individual? Once you understand your child’s unique needs, you can focus on providing them with the nurturing environment they need to thrive.

  5. Seek support when you need it. Parenting is a demanding role, and it’s okay to ask for help when you’re feeling overwhelmed or unsure. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your partner, family, friends, or a trusted professional for guidance and support.

  6. Limit your exposure to parenting advice. While there can be valuable insights to be gained from parenting resources, excessive exposure can lead to overthinking and anxiety. Take breaks from reading parenting books and websites if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of advice.

  7. Find a parenting community that aligns with your values. Surround yourself with supportive parents who share similar parenting philosophies and values. Online and in-person parenting communities can provide a sense of belonging, validation, and encouragement.

  8. Practice self-compassion and self-care. Parenting is a marathon, not a sprint. Be patient with yourself, celebrate your successes, and don’t be afraid to take time for yourself to recharge and rejuvenate.

Remember, there is no perfect parent, and there is no right or wrong way to raise a child. Embrace your own unique parenting style, trust your instincts, and focus on providing your child with the love, support, and guidance they need to thrive.