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Leave it to the experts?
Or do you trust your intuition?

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#1 prue~c

Posted 29 August 2012 - 07:23 PM

Before I had kids, I read as much about child rearing as I could get my hands on, all in preparation for the day I would have my own baby. As the years went on, and still no baby, I became familiar with many of the experts and their particular dogma.

Now, of course, I cringe when remembering how I lectured my poor pregnant friends on the methods of whichever expert was my flavour of the month at that particular time. Dear friends, I would like to take this opportunity to offer a wholehearted apology. I'm sorry; I thought I was doing the right thing.

And the experts were many and varied. There were your old school, often doctor-authored books hailing from the '40s and '50s, advocating a strict approach to parenting; the new wave of attachment theory experts, whose advice included co-sleeping, elimination communication and extended breastfeeding; the self-anointed sleep experts, whose rigid routines claim to have a baby ‘sleeping through’ from six weeks. Then there were the nutrition experts, the experts in baby sign language, the toddler tamers, the celebrity experts, the experts on raising boys, the experts on raising girls, the experts who became expert via reality television … It seems there’s an expert for every minute aspect of parenting, and I spent years reading almost nothing else. In fact, it was my avid reading about anything child, pregnancy or birth-related that first drew me to Essential Baby many moons ago.

But since having my twin boys, I haven’t picked up a single parenting book. I admit to the odd google search, but the books have been given the flick in favour of trusting my own instinct, and listening to the wisdom – and then either taking or leaving it – of the parents around me. Real experience, I’ve found, is worth so much more than rigid routines, diets and methods espoused by many of the so-called professionals.

But the experts are increasingly difficult to evade. It's easy to make a choice about not reading books or particular websites, but trying to avoid expert advice in my day-to-day life is verging on impossible.

First it was at mothers' group. What started as coffee and a chat turned into a weekly self-help session, with different speakers invited along to tell us what we were doing wrong. And I’ve had to pick my days at playgroup in order to avoid the weekly expert session, which can cover anything from sleep training to swimming.

I sat through a few of these relatively harmless presentations (but let’s face it, they never go particularly well when the room is full of attention-seeking toddlers), until a speech from a nutritionist with extreme ideas and a rigid ‘my way or the highway’ attitude really angered me. When she left, the conversation centred on how the parents felt guilty they weren’t following the expert’s 100% organic, premium-food only diet for their children.

Of course, it's not just the nutritionist that engenders guilt in the first-time parent. Your 17-month-old can't get themselves to the side of a pool yet? You're just negligent, said the swimming instructor. Still not sleeping through the night? So sad, clucked the sleep trainer – but for a substantial fee she’ll come and show you how you should be doing things.

Being a parent can be isolating, particularly when it’s your first time. When you’re surrounded by other ‘clueless’ first timers, it can make sense to seek out the advice of experts, but does it actually help, or just add another layer of guilt and frustration to a process that ideally should be natural and instinctive?

For me, I’m glad I’ve thrown the experts aside in favour of listening to my internal directions.  It has made parenting – especially twins – a much more enjoyable experience. Rather than treating it like an exam, studying up every night and forcing my boys into rigid expert-defined ideals, we’re just going at our own pace … and loving it.

#2 Liv_DrSperm_sh

Posted 30 August 2012 - 10:58 AM

I found with twins I have a permanent 'get out of jail free' card for most of these things.

Random mother: OMG, you aren't teaching your child 7 languages while training them to be an olympic swimmer and write their first novel at 7 months??

Me: I have twins

Random mother: you aren't feeding them only organic, dirt still on it, entirely home cooked, covered in hippy dust food?

Me: I have twins

I do have one point for my modern parenting superiorty badge - my twins slept through from 11 weeks.

However, sadly this is negated by the modern parenting permanent black mark - I only breastfed for 8 weeks before post-birth complications made it impossible, I also ended up with an emergency section....nevermind, I have twins!

#3 Guest_bottle~rocket_*

Posted 01 September 2012 - 11:16 PM

I've tried and failed to follow the experts.  Now I trust my instincts and seek ideas from a few trusted people when needed.  You're absolutely right, parenting is so much more enjoyable when you are not trying to force yourself and your baby into conforming with other peoples pointless rules.

#4 premmie

Posted 12 September 2012 - 01:14 PM

Robin barker is the only so called expert I trust these days. For those who have read both books there isn't any hard fast advice, more just down to earth easy going ( sometimes there is no answer) mother to mother advice. I also love her writing style some of the turns of phrase make me laugh original.gif and on the worst day her pep talks pick me up amazingly original.gif

With my first i read everything and found my own way. This time around I read only I feel like it or have something specific I need to know. Otherwise I guess I'm going on experience...I think instinct is something that's overused, mothering is a skill that is learnt and relearnt with every new child. I had a non sleeping eater, now just to challenge me I have a sleeping, non eater original.gif

#5 Sif

Posted 12 September 2012 - 01:23 PM

I read a LOT of books and became more and more confused until one day my mother (who's advice I was NOT in the habit of taking) said, 'You know they're YOUR children, you're more likely to understand them and their needs than anyone else on this planet because they're half YOU.' Thanks mum. Since then I've listened to my instincts (which are confusing enough) and muddled through as best I knew how. My kids are healthy, mostly well adjusted, confident and caring kids, so I can't have gotten it all wrong.

#6 seayork2002

Posted 12 September 2012 - 01:28 PM

As there seems to be more parenting books on the market than there is babies (well it feels like it, and what is it about a celebrity that makes an 'expert'?) and as each baby is different I took the view that I would trust my extinct till I actually felt I needed help then seek the help.

That has seen me needing help or not but I have never been 'wrong'

I should add I listen to all advice but hear the ones that make sense to me!

Edited by seayork2002, 12 September 2012 - 01:30 PM.

#7 ComradeBob

Posted 12 September 2012 - 01:36 PM

When I first got pregnant, my wonderful (female) GP gave me the bset advice I've ever received on parenting - "Don't buy any of those pregnancy/parenting books, they'll just make you paranoid".

With the exception of one (second hand) pregnancy book and Baby Love, it's advice I followed and I've never been sorry I did  original.gif

#8 QueenElsa

Posted 12 September 2012 - 01:37 PM

I read all the books with DD1 and talked to as many people as possible... I also feel guilty to know I have recommended various books to friends. I now know that every child is different and you do what works for you and your family.

Having 3 children is also a get out of jail free card - organic purée? Baby swim training? Sign language? Baby whisperer dvds? Did it with DD1....don't really see the need to do it again...

#9 TaciturnTurtledove

Posted 23 October 2012 - 05:19 PM

Following your instincts is all well and good.....but with my first (only) baby, I had no instincts. I was a new mother with not a single bit of experience with babies. People who advised me to 'follow my instincts' were no use to me because my instincts told me nothing about how to look after a baby. There's a point where you need knowledge and you need to read books to have some idea about what babies do.

I researched a lot (different methods and different books). I found each thing I read invaluable for giving me ideas about what could be done with my baby. Then I chose the methods I thought suited me.

I can see that with later kids I might not need to read the books - but for my first child, they were a lifeline.

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