There are no formulas

By Published On: October 9th, 2014

Generally speaking, men like to solve problems. I am no […]

Generally speaking, men like to solve problems. I am no exception to this rule. To me, a crying baby, a dirty diaper, a sleep-deprived wife are all problems that need solutions. Most of the time I look to the established rule or the right formula for solving said problem. So, what’s the formula for caring for a 6-week-old baby?
photoThere is no shortage of advice about how to raise a child. To co-sleep or not to co-sleep, that is the question. To vaccinate, or not to vaccinate, that is yet another question. To breastfeed or not to breastfeed, there’s another question still. And the list of questions could go on for miles. It seems like every topic under the sun has a plethora of books, blog posts, documentaries, tweets, Facebook rants and the like about it. Everyone offering up their two cents speaks as though they have the definitive word on the matter. They have finally cracked the code on the topic du jour, and anyone who fails to heed their advice will ultimately fail as a parent.
When I entered parenthood, I was carrying a crushing load of insecurities, fears and doubts. I hadn’t memorized any of the formulas. I was certain I would get it all wrong. So, you can imagine how relieved I was when I finally cracked the code. And I’m going to share my insight with you. You ready for it? Here it comes: There are no formulas in child rearing.
Do you realize that no one else has ever raised your baby? Only you have (or will). No one else has your family background, temperament or genetics. No one else is exactly like you. No other baby is exactly like yours. Your baby is not a robot that will respond to Dr. Know-It-All’s sage advice in the same way that all other baby robots will.
Now, this doesn’t mean that we can’t get some good ideas from our friends or from the “experts.” To be sure, there is much to be gained by listening to good advice and giving it a try. Just remember that if your crying baby doesn’t calm down when you play Mozart, but your friend’s baby does, it doesn’t mean that you screwed up. It just means there are no formulas.
There are, however, ways to become wiser.
We become wiser parents through rolling up our sleeves and doing the job of raising our children. It involves a lot of trial and error, experimentation and adapting. We only do our children and ourselves a disservice if we carry around the burden of guilt and shame that come from holding ourselves to impossible standards. So, let’s leave the pity party and get back in the game.
Give yourself some grace. Actually, give yourself a lot of grace. The parenting journey includes many moments of failure. Redeem the failures by learning from them and doing better tomorrow.