Every parent has their “parenting bible” — that one book they would recommend to both new and seasoned parents, the one filled with intellectual magic. And when they share it with someone else, it makes them feel as though they’re passing on an old family recipe, a secret that must be protected and honored to the last ingredient and tweaked measurement.
For some, it might be the book that helped with their daughter’s terrible twos. For others, it might be the book that helped with their son’s biting situation at school. However — just like old family recipes — there’s always something that will work differently for each parent.
So, how do we know which parenting recipe works?
In this fast-paced world where answers are at the tip of your fingertips, how do you know what to use? How do you know what book to read? What will be the best piece of advice for your situation?
It’s easy for parents to feel overwhelmed, especially because there’s so much information out there. Between blogs, books, podcasts, experts, and workshops, it’s understandable that some parents might feel uncertain about where to start.
I work with parents closely. The first thing I say is that judging by these parents' initiative to ask a professional about whether or not they’re doing a good job probably means they’re doing a good job. When parents make that first approach to learn it means they are open to listening and making the small shifts necessary to help their children thrive.
The differences in parenting techniques start getting more noticeable as children grow older. Parents may begin to recognize that their take on curfews is different from other parents’. Or that their perspective on dating clashes with other points of view. Not only this, but in light of recent events and news, parents are starting to realize the importance of talking to their children — as early as possible — about important topics such as consent, gratitude, body image, social justice, and inequality.
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Studies have shown that building a parenting community helps ease parents’ mental health. From the value of establishing a parenting network for parents of premature babies to the positive effects of first-time fathers. Research continues to prove how powerfully beneficial these networks can be. Not only do they help ease the anxiety that chimes in with the overwhelming amount of “parenting tips” out there, but it also helps alleviate the frustration of interacting with other parents who don’t share your same expectations on parenting.
Who exactly belongs in that parenting network? Well, that’s the beauty of it. There’s space for the classroom mom who — just like you — is getting the hang of it. For the single dad who asks for advice when things get rough at home. The neighbor who will always open a bottle of wine for you — no questions asked. The parent who’s raising his third child and has been through every doubt, anxiety, fear and frustration you have, and is capable of offering some perspective.
Your parenting network belongs to you.
Only you know what type of values you want to teach, and what type of support you want to receive. Only you know the fellow parents who won’t hesitate to point out your blind spots and those who will undoubtedly celebrate your parenting successes.
It’s important to have the books, the experts, the podcasts, and the blogs. They provide insight and valuable information you might not have read otherwise. But, it’s equally as important to surround yourself with parents who will make you better because they know the inner workings of your parenting experience. They will be able to tweak your parenting recipe for the days there’s only time for a PB&J.