By Ann-Marie O'Doherty, 29th March 2017

Do We Have A Choice?

How To Have Confidence As a Parent in Today’s Society

How To Have Confidence As a Parent in Today’s Society

What would happen if we were allowed to choose our path in life without fear of judgement or criticism? What might such a world be like?

Choice. It is something that we all claim we are entitled to yet we struggle to allow others the right to follow a different path to our own.

There are examples of this struggle littered all over social media and nowhere, perhaps, is it more prevalent than on pages dedicated to parenting and parenting issues.

We really do have a hard time understanding parents who make choices that are in complete contrast to our own. There are many examples of this; co-sleeping vs. cot, whether or not to use a soother; baby led weaning vs. spoon-fed… the list is long and littered with potential bombs.

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A particularly hot button topic at the moment it seems, is the issue of returning to work after maternity leave.

Over the last few weeks I have watched from the sidelines as this subject has drawn even the most laid back mamas in conversations that turned then into more of a froth than that milky cappuccino you are drinking!

It seems that if you are looking forward to returning to work after maternity leave you are seen as somehow distant and cold. But if you want to take a career break on the other hand, well then clearly you want to return to the 1950s, strap on a pinny and become a step-ford wife.

There is no right answer in this game; every choice you make will be questioned, criticised and ultimately found wanting. But then isn’t that the case with all decisions made from the moment you pee on that little white stick?

Perhaps the root of all this angst is the very real feelings of insecurity we have as parents today. We are saturated with information but is it a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth?

It seems every second expert contradicts the one before so we don’t know whether to try self-soothing or rocking to sleep or maybe mama will just collapse in a giant puddle of tears come bedtime.

We tend to shy away from our instincts if they don’t agree with current parenting trends and this, I think, is where the problems start.

We all want to feel as if we are doing the best we can for our children and often we seek validation from outside sources. So if some ‘expert’ agrees with our way of doing things than naturally we feel vindicated and reassured.

I recently asked my own mother if she thinks that mothers today have it easier than she did. Despite all the advancements in technology and handy new gadgets, she believes women today have it harder.

‘We don’t seem to be able to just rely on our own gut feelings, we need the support of Dr. Google and a myriad of other resources to justify our choices. Furthermore, any choices we make are subject to intense scrutiny both online and in real life.’

But our choices should be just that; our choices. They should not need the back-up of Dr. Seuss or Gina Ford or a random person we got chatting to online.

Courage to stand by our choices, however, is easier said than done. We live in a world where your own instincts are often drowned out by a cacophony of differing viewpoints. The constant barrage of opinions leaves most of us weary, confused and in need of cake.

My personal advice (and yes, I do indeed see the irony in saying that) when you are faced with a parenting choice, be it a contentious issue (to co-sleep in bed or use a cot) or something more simple like whether or not to use a sling; own your choice.

Have the confidence to say this is what I feel is best for me and for my family. If you don’t have the confidence than fake it until you do.

Don’t let your choice rest on what everybody else thinks; it’s YOUR choice and yours alone.

(Note from The Editor: Many thanks to Ann-Marie O’Doherty for her contribution to The Glass House. If you would like to read more about Ann-Marie you can find her parenting trials and triumphs at The Mummy Years. She can also be found lurking on Twitter and Facebook or pop over to her Authors page to read more here.) 

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