In PART 1 and PART 2 on this subject, my goal was to open you up to non-child raising advice. Young mothers are soooo sensitive about criticism of their ways to raise their kids and instantly become deaf to anything an older mom says about their children. Essentially, by blocking your ears, you might miss out on some valuable advice about how to remain the person you were before having a baby. Although I refer to your mother or mother-in-law, it could be a dear older friend who is concerned about you coping with the demands of motherhood.
YouTube does not qualify as a mom
Why are we so open to the advice we find on YouTube? What makes YouTube an expert on just about any questions we have. How often do you ask someone where they learned to do this or that, and they answer YouTube? People who know nothing about you or your family post advice online, and you take it on board without any hesitation. YouTube is great when you want to learn how to fix your leaking roof, but PLEASE don’t take a stranger’s advice about raising your kids.
Before YouTube, there were HOW-TO-BE-A-MOM books
Times have changed a lot since the days mothers followed the rules published in Dr. Benjamin Spock’s Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care. A Georgia mother remembers an out-of-touch but dear older friend who, with the best intentions, gave her such a book. It professed that following a strict schedule, starting immediately after birth, was the ONLY way to cope with motherhood demands.
Being a mom does not make you a SUPER MOM nor a SLAVE
Dr. Spock was one of many “experts” who said naps, feedings, baths and bedtime had to happen at specific times each day. The Atlanta mom soon discovered that her modern lifestyle, demanding job, errands and other responsibilities were not compatible with such a strict schedule. With the 6:30 p.m. bedtime for baby, mom and dad hardly ever saw the little one awake. She ditched the book and saw it as one more lesson learned.
Mom needs a lot of patience through POTTY TRAINING
Potty training is another one of the know-all people’s favorite subjects at gatherings with other moms. As with the schedule thing, let the potty training advice pass you by. If you want a reason to shut your ears, this is it. There is no set age for babies to be potty trained. A Wisconsin mother found out too late that all she needed was patience. In her quest to meet other moms’ approval, she caused potty-time anxiety and stress that damaged both her and the little boy. He was eight years old before he was trained. However, he still had nighttime accidents occasionally. Now she realizes that encouragement and reminders to use the potty are sufficient, and, eventually, kids figure it out.
Maybe it’s not cool to be a COOL mom?
A mom in Texas, who had her first child at 19 years, now knows that being cool is not a priority. In hindsight, she says, children have their own friends, and mom should not be one of them. Instead, having their respect and credibility matters more, and she blames it on being such a young mother. She admits that being cool caused problems laying down the laws when they became teens.
It makes no sense why mothers MISS BEING NEEDED
I know, I was one of them. Now that my boys are in their thirties, we’ve switched roles. I need them, even when it’s just to share a cup of coffee and a hug. A Pennsylvania mom of two sons, one 17-year-old and the other one aged 19 says despite the difficulty of raising small kids, she misses being needed. She’s proud of their independence but silently wishes they’d ask her to do things for them.
Furthermore, she says she wishes she had more time to “mother” them. Mmmm, reminds me of the California mother I wrote about in Part 2. She recommends treating children from the onset as little adults — no mothering! It takes all kinds to make the world. This example is enough to justify my view of not blindly follow advice about raising your kids.
Hold your own! Don’t become SO-AND-SO’S MOM
Never stop doing things that remind you of who you are. So says a Seattle mother who underscores the importance of carrying on with hobbies, reading and other favorite activities while raising your children. If you focus your whole life on them for 15 or more years, you stand to become the cheerleader’s mom or something similar. Love your kids, and be proud of their achievements but always remember who you are.
A mother KNOWS BEST
The bottom line is that you, as a mother, have no obligation to use the advice you never asked for. Beware, there are two types of advice. The kind you can ignore is about how to raise your kids. If it matters, you can tell them in a nice way that you will ask for advice when you need to. However, never disregard advice about coping with the challenges of motherhood. What you want is how to come out the other side as the same person that embarked on the journey — only a whole lot more experienced. Listen to the advice, weigh it, and take on board what you want and dispose of the rest. As put by a Minnesota mother, no one knows your kids as well as you do. Likewise, your family dynamics, values and preferences.