Tag Archives: instincts

Best Parenting Advice Ever!

I have a stock of standard “things to say” when its my turn to sign the card.

Yearbook/Retirement: It was great getting to know you. Have a wonderful summer!

Birthday: I’m glad you were born. I hope you have a wonderful day! (pretty much the long version of “Happy Birthday”, but if you write really big, it takes up a lot more space)

Wedding: Marriage is awesome! Enjoy each other! (yes I realize this one sounds a bit smarmy, but hey, it’s honeymoon time)

Get well: Hang in there friend. We’re praying for you! (I may substitute buddy or kiddo if this is for a child – it’s so versatile)

These hallmark-ish sentiments have saved me time, and let’s face it, valuable brain space. Occasionally I am inspired and write an epistle, but most often, I’m just glad to pass the card on to the next person.

My New Baby comments have evolved over the years as I move through those necessary parenting phases: panicked, smug, overwhelmed, resigned, what-on-earth-is-that-up-your-nose, et cetera. These days I find myself parroting the advice my mom has always given. We’ll call this the “guess-she-sort-of-knew-what-she-was-talking-about-after-all” phase.

Trust your instincts.

It seemed like kind of a cop out to me, you know, back in the day when I knew so much. I mean, I had Formal Training in early childhood education, I had absorbed Scientific Knowledge, I had learned Godly Techniques… surely there was a right way to do every little thing and I was bound and determined to find it.

I have books on breast-feeding, potty training, sleep training, attachment parenting, public schools, homeschooling, un-schooling, sex talks, purity retreats, unplugging, becoming media-wise, healthy food, cheap food, freezing food and even food related crafts. I’ve read everything from Baby Wise to The Baby Whisperer, and a few times through the bible. I have gone to seminars, conferences, and retreats. I have surfed the internet, read blogs and listened to podcasts; WebMD is my home away from home. I’ve even gone back to school and studied Developmental Psychology.

I am constantly learning something new about parenting. Some of it is crap. Some of it works. Some of it just doesn’t feel right, even though it works.

And I find myself coming back to my Mom’s advice again and again. Despite having bottle fed me and put me to sleep ON MY STOMACH (*gasp of shock and horror*), she did a great job! Even without all these Important Resources.

Last week I was asked to give the talk at a church baby shower. I was psyched, because this little person is a long awaited miracle and it’s just so cool that he is here. I was also a little intimidated since my “expert” parenting advice would be presented to a group of friends who might be sitting behind us next week while I hiss cease and desist warnings to my girls who are attempting to irritate each other to death, while B has her finger deeply embedded in her nose, while I wipe breakfast off their faces with my thumb and little bit of spit (they LOVE that)… basically while my family makes it clear to all that I am not really an expert after all.

So I fell back on this, the best parenting advice I have ever gotten.

Trust your instincts.

God entrusted this child to Your care; no one knows them like you do. God gave you instincts, intuition, insights, even slightly less-than-scientific “gut feelings”. And God promises wisdom if you faithfully ask.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God,

who gives generously to all without finding fault,

and it will be given to you.

James 1:5

There are some for whom these instincts do not come naturally. Perhaps due to a difficult childhood, or other personal issues. They may need to develop and hone their instincts. You can LEARN to be a responsive parent.

Pray. Talk to other moms. Research. Find out what is healthy and safe. Read, read, read… It all helps. And it is important. But in the end, YOU discern what is best for your family.

Trust your instincts.

There is no such thing as the perfect parent. But there are many amazing, loving, and succesful parents out there, and they do not all fit into the same mold.

Each of my children have different needs. I have my own set of strengths and weaknesses. The circumstances of life change frequently. Our family has distinct values and priorities. We don’t fit into any mold.

Despite the assertions of many parenting systems, there is no single, foolproof method to “Grow Kids God’s Way”. If there were, our faith would be in a person or a formula. Instead, we trust the One who made us and put children in our care, by trusting our instincts.

So here’s me, Growing Kids Christie’s Way. Cause that’s my job.

It’s a Worrisome Life! Pharmaceutical Error and My Little Girl

In one of my favourite movies of all time, there is a subplot about a drunk and distraught druggist who makes a dangerous error (say that 10 times really fast). Fortunately, the young shop boy steps in and saves everyone from what would have been a fatal mistake. This morning we discovered that our baby girl is the victim of a pharmaceutical error herself, not fatal, but potentially serious.

A rather common side effect of Down Syndrome is hypothyroidism – low thyroid. We’ve spent the past several years working with her pediatrician to keep her level JUST RIGHT. Too high and she gets hyper, jittery and is unable to grow. Too low and she is lethargic, listless and also, unable to grow. Left untreated, low thyroid can cause brain damage.

A few months ago we realized that B needed another dosage adjustment. When I went to pick up the prescription I was surprised that it read “take 1/2 a pill daily”. I had hoped that a higher dose would mean an end to fiddling with that stupid pill cutter. I asked about it – gutsy for someone like me, who prefers not to make waves. “Isn’t she supposed to take the whole pill?” But I was assured that this was the correct dosage.

Apparently, I’m no George Bailey. I didn’t question it. I mean, I trust these people. They wear white coats for Pete’s sake; if that doesn’t spell “trustworthy,” I don’t know what does.

These past few months have been difficult in our house and at school. B has not been herself. She’s been irritable, needy and unfocused. I wondered if it was the adjustment to a new school year. We’ve had numerous discussions with the resource and classroom teachers, daily strategy sessions with the S.E.A.’s (teaching assistants), and notes flying back and forth about what to do. I wondered if she was coming down with something. We’ve taken many sick days, even antibiotics at the height of her distress (though her ear was only slightly red). I wondered if we are just crappy, crappy parents. There’s a distressed e-mail to a behavioural interventionist in the draft box of my computer.

Two days ago our family doctor phoned with the results of our much dreaded blood test. Apparently, her thyroid levels are way too low. I was confused; we had just upped the meds, so if anything it should be slightly high… Then I remembered my unease at the drugstore counter.

Sure enough, we’ve been giving her half the required dosage. And our pediatrician was pissed. It is behind the lack of energy and focus, the irritability, the general malaise.

At that moment I went through what psychologists may call “rapid cycling” – many strong emotions in quick order:

Guilt: I should have caught this. I did catch this. Why didn’t I catch this? Self recrimination is my super power.

Relief: It could have been the leukemia my darkest fears were whispering about. And it could have been much, much worse. If we didn’t catch it in time, it may have done permanent damage.

Fear: What if it did do permanent damage? Will this set her back? Will she ever recover? She was learning to read, doing so well and now she can barely stand to look at a book with me.

Anger: I have a powerful urge to find that careless pharmacist and squish him like the worthless insect he is.

More guilt: Because that’s just how I roll.

Gratitude: This explains so much and it’s an easy fix – just a pill a day for a happier child! How often can you say that?

I should have trusted my instincts. I have said it before, our instincts as parents are not infallible, but they are a God-given gift. It doesn’t matter what expertise and professional training the wildly intelligent people we deal with have, when push comes to shove, I am the expert on my child. If something feels wrong, it probably is. One of the best things I ever did was find a doctor who respects that.

All behaviour is communication. Whether it is saying “I’m tired,” “I’m hungry,” “I’m overwhelmed,” or “I have a deficit in an important growth hormone”, kids who act out are trying to tell us something. When I can’t figure out what the naughty behaviour means, I tend to chalk it up to random, unspecified grumpiness. That’s not without merit; Lord knows, I experience enough of it in my own life. But it is important to check for a physical reason and even visit my doctor when the behaviour seems uncharacteristic and out of control.

So that’s the moral of the story for me. It’s been a hard lesson. From now on I will listen to my gut and to listen to my child.

So here’s me, rehearsing my lines for the showdown at the pharmacy. No, I won’t be crushing anyone like a bug, but there will be a strongly worded complaint form filled out… um… if it’s not too much trouble. Stupid Canadian politeness! Stupid intimidating white coats!

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