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Having the Courage to Parent YOUR Way

25 Mar 2015 – 11:20 AM EDT

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“He just needs a good spanking.”

I wondered if my dad was right. My two-year-old was on the floor throwing yet another tantrum. I didn’t know what to do or how to make this little kid listen to me. Reluctantly, I spanked him. He only wailed harder. The whole spanking process made me uncomfortable but nothing seemed to be working to get my little one to behave. Looking back, I know now that it was a stage of development and there were lots of other things I could have done instead–if only it meant having courage to try them.

When I look back on my parenting skills with my firstborn, there’s so much I would change if I could do it all over again. I wish I had the confidence to parent in the way that felt right…to me. It took me a while to get into this place of confidence and to let my own instincts guide me.

There’s a quote by Maya Angelou that comforts me: “When you know better, you do better.” Certainly by the time the third child arrived, I parented in a very different way. For starters, I had matured and gained a lot more confidence after parenting two children. When I was pregnant with my third child, I began to increase my knowledge through reading a variety of books with different perspectives and took away information that was a good fit for how I wanted to parent. I ended up homebirthing my third child–a decision that required confidence. That simple decision set in motion a whole new side of having courage and strength.

With my first child, my husband and I battled the little kid night after night to try to get him to sleep in his own bed. He cried night after night as we sat by his door and waited for him to fall asleep. With my third child, we went right for the family bed. Sleep was far more blissful for all of us. I also breastfed until he was three. This was not something I planned to do, but it felt right. Of course, I had to deal with a lot of disproval from others–but here’s the thing–whenever you get in a place where you’re parenting YOUR way, you will encounter others who do not agree with your path. This means you simply have to be strong enough to continue to do what’s right for your family. You have to have the strength to stand up to those who might feel they must steer you down the “right” parenting path.

Speaking of paths, one lesson I’ve learned over and over is that sometimes you have to go down the “wrong” path to discover the right path for your family. If something is not working well for your child, don’t be afraid to try new things. Whenever you are unsure, that’s a sign to learn more. Read as many books as you can get your hands on. Form a mother’s group or parenting group as your very own mastermind group. Take parenting classes. Reaching out to other parents for advice and wisdom can be a great thing, but ultimately, you must look within your heart to determine if the information is what you need for parenting YOUR way.