“But I should know . . .”

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“Relax” ”just follow your gut and you’ll know what to do.” Ninety per cent of parenting is instinct, right? Research (and common sense) show that, contrary to this long-lived myth, fully two thirds of new parents doubt their ability to take care of that baby. The “Listening to Mothers” Survey by Childbirth Connection found that more than half of second time moms continue to doubt their innate parenting abilities. Most parents report that the deluge of available advice (roughly 15 million hits on a Google search for “parenting advice”) simply overwhelms them, confusing rather than comforting.

It’s not only droves of new parents who lack confidence. Even seasoned parents question themselves as new stages and challenges loom: picking schools, from preschool to college; trusting other parents for play dates or sleepovers, responding to tantrums, whether in two-year-olds or twenty-year-olds. The decision-making is endless, just like the accompanying anxiety. Of course we all want to do right by our children. And we live in a mother-blaming culture, where every news story of a serial killer has a requisite sidebar about his relationship with dear old mom.

My “perfectly good mom” remedy is the family mission statement. When your child is 25, what qualities will you most wish you had instilled? What skills and experiences are most linked to your values? Pick your top five, attach the list to the fridge, and let that guide your decision-making.

And just as key — acknowledge that you have a learning curve. No one steps into a paid job they’ve never done and sails through without consultation. Give yourself permission to seek input from others. And once you find a source — an expert, a friend, a parenting philosophy — that works for you, quit searching. Step away from Google! Develop your skills within your chosen framework and allow yourself to screen out everything else. INCLUDING this blog, if necessary!

If you like my focus, though, and want help to achieve that delicate, shifting balance in parenting, please tune in — and call in — to “The Sanity Hour.” Launching this Monday, Feb. 22, 7 pm CT on the HerInsight Radio Network, broadcast on Toginet. I welcome guests who want help with the craziness of parenting. Email me in advance with your questions: ann[at]anndunnewold[com] (please translate when you email me–this is to thwart spammers) or call 877-864-4869 during the show.

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