November 10th, 2011 6:44pm - Posted By: Anne Maxwell, LCSW, RPT-S
Hi, Anne! I'm a new mom and I am finding myself overwhelmed with caring for this little one. I continually find myself falling short as a mother. I hear about how critical the infant and early childhood years are and I worry that I'm just not capable of doing it right! Thoughts?
What if your childhood experiences, and how you make sense of them, effects how you parent your children? What if the pressure to “do everything right” is exhausting, requires constant judgment of yourself, and eliminates your capacity to see what works best for you and your baby/child? What if “doing everything right” is a picture, a fantasy? What if it is not a reality? What if you can choose something different? When everything is “right” and “perfect”, how comfortable are you? What happens when something is out of order? Is that upsetting – to you and to those around you?
What if you could parent from a completely different place? A place of trusting yourself, of choosing in the moment what seems right for your baby and for you, regardless of what you’ve been told, regardless of what everyone else is saying.
Where does the need to “do everything right” come from? From your mother? From your father? Whose insecurity or sense of inadequacy was that? Growing up, was doing everything “right” a requirement in order to receive approval, affection?
When you have a need to be right, it puts lots of pressure not only on you, but on your baby as well. Your baby has a heightened sense of you and how you are, and, if she picks up constant stress and pressure from you, it is going to be harder for her to be soothed by you. Having a Mom who is at peace with herself is reassuring to babies.
Making sense of our early childhood experiences (both positive and negative) helps us come to peace with how we got to where we are right now. We can’t change what happened to us, but we can certainly change how we see it. Anything we are willing to look at we can change.
As a new Mom, are you getting lots of advice? Is it unsolicited? Is it well intentioned? Do you feel inadequate because you don’t have the “right answers?” What if you actually know more than anyone about your baby?
What if parenting is less about having the right answers and more about asking lots of questions, and seeing what shows up? I view behavior as a form of communication. So, when she is crying, you can ask: What is she telling me? What does she require from me right now? Is there anything I can do to alleviate her distress? What is contributing to this? Can I change it? How can I change it?
What if parenting your baby has to do with you listening to your baby, to learning her language, to reading her cues? What if she needs more/less sleep, food, stimulation, interaction than other babies?
Posted in: Parenting Techniques, Parenting Questions
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