No, I Don’t Want Your Advice

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On a daily basis, I share my thoughts and opinions about motherhood. I write about things I have done, shouldn’t have done or wish I had done. I don’t believe that I’m always right or that my opinions matter to everyone who reads them. I like to think that I embrace different parenting techniques for different families. But I do spend every day sharing my advice about parenthood.

So I guess it’s a little ironic that one of my proudest parenting moments occurred when I refused to listen to anyone’s advice about my daughter and her bedtime routine. (I’m going to go with ‘ironic’, but I like getting old Alanis songs stuck in my head. If you want to say hypocritical, that’s ok. I can’t hear you.) Like  most new mothers, I was pretty insecure. Every move I made was a possible endangerment to my child. I soaked up parenting advice, hopeful that it would provide the answers to all my frantic questions. I read books and blogs. I talked to family and friends. A funny thing happened; the more people I talked to, the worse I felt. Everyone had a different opinion, but they were positive about one thing. I was doing it all wrong.

The situation came to a head when my daughter was 18 months old. My life was a little hectic at the time. I was getting married and my daughter and I were moving into a new home. Brenna is a creature of habit. From very early on, she’s been happiest with a routine. Knowing this, I made a big motherhood choice all on my own. I let my daughter continue to have a bottle before bed.

I know, this doesn’t seem like a big deal. It wasn’t, now that I look back on it. But at the time, everyone was warning me about encouraging her dependence on a bottle. My pediatrician told me that it was time to get rid of the bottle. My mother told me that I really needed to stop letting her have a bottle. My daycare provider told me that I needed to put my foot down. Everyone that I knew was positive that I was making the wrong choice. But I knew my daughter. I knew, as a mother, that my daughter needed her continuous night-time routine intact while she was moving to a new bedroom. I knew what she needed and I made a choice to defy all that advice and follow my own instincts. In the end, my daughter transitioned well. I still like to think that it’s because I kept her routine as constant as I could from one house to the next. Once she had some time to adjust, I weaned her away from her night-time BaBas. It all worked out ok.

Now, I’m not saying that was should smoke while pregnant because it feelsright. We should not put our children in harm’s way. And in general, we need to listen to our pediatrician’s advice. Hopefully, we all have some common sense here. But the truth is, we receive parenting advice all the time. From people like me! Sometimes, we have to ignore all those good intentions and well-meaning opinions. We know our children better than anyone. We’ll make the right decision, even if it’s not the most widely-approved one.