Friday, November 12, 2010

GUEST BLOG POST: Weeding Through Well-Meaning Advice by Dana Rosenbloom

The minute you let people know you are pregnant, it begins. Mostly you’ll hear “Oh you’re pregnant? You have to…” Or, “I tried this and it’s the best.” Or, “I used this item and it’s a must.” Or, “You know everyone does this/uses this doctor/subscribes to this technique.” It can be endless! And advice is forthcoming for expectant parents, first time parents, and parents on their 2nd and 3rd children. To be sure, most of this advice is well-meaning…but there’s so much of it. How do you know what to listen to and what to let go?

Consider this:

1. Any advice, item, or technique has to work for your family. In my practice, I view each family as its own culture. In this way, I help families identify the points that are important to them and how to use parenting techniques to fit in to that framework. For example, there are many benefits to your child having a 7:30 bed time. Maybe all of your friends are doing it! There’s nothing like peer pressure in parenting. If your reality is that you don’t come home till 6:30 and your partner is home at 7:30, you probably won’t want to put your child to bed at 7:30. This advice is not for you!

2. Any advice, item, or technique has to work for your child. If we look at the scenario above, the final decision about bed time has to consider your child. If your child goes to bed at 9:30 and wakes up in time for school, wakes up well-rested, and wakes up able to function well and maintain their routine, then no one can tell you that it’s the wrong time. It may not work for a child who requires more sleep or for a parent who needs their child awake at an early hour for class or day care. But it may work for you. This concept can apply to bottles, bouncers, scheduling and many other decisions parents face.

3. The “Go-To” Person. Each of us has a friend, family member or mentor who is our “go-to” person. This person has proven him or her self over time to give advice or comfort that strikes a chord. It may be the person who seems to have warm, loving, respectful relationships with their children. It may be the pediatrician your OB introduced you to, who you’ve been speaking to throughout your pregnancy and who just seems to “get” your temperament and your ideal parenting style. It may be the friend who works in education whose ideas and interactions with children you respect and admire. It may be your father or mother-in-law (figured I’d throw that one in for good measure). The point is, follow your gut. Often, the person who knows you well and whom you trust will give you specific advice that will help you be the best parent you can be.

4. If you aren’t sure, ask. When you hear advice that you might be interested in trying, consider your child’s behavior, temperament, and tendencies and then talk to your partner. See what he or she thinks. If you still aren’t sure, ask an expert. That’s what we’re here for! Many professionals will answer a quick question without requiring a consultation or session. If the question or issue is more complex, it’s probably worth setting up the appointment. In the end, you’ll have the support you need to make the best decision for you and your child.

Dana Rosenbloom has a Master's degree in Infant and Parent Development and Early Intervention from Bank Street College. She is a certified Early Childhood teacher in both general and special education. Dana has been working with children and families in a variety of capacities for over 10 years. In addition to providing services through Dana's Kids, she is both a classroom teacher and a special instructor for children enrolled in Early Intervention. Dana's Kids provides parent education, play therapy, special education services, parent workshops and support groups, and professional development. Dana considers herself to be a "reality-based" therapist, who takes each child's and family's specific situation into consideration before making suggestions. Visit Dana's Kids. Empowered Parents, Happy Families.

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