Parents often joke about how there is no manual for parenting, that we are thrown in the deep end when our child is born. But this statement, while amusing, is only partly true.
Modern parents are very lucky to have a wealth of parenting and child development research at our fingertips. There are expert opinions and scientific research findings on everything from conception to parenting adult children, if you care to look. There are books, blogs (like this one!), research papers and video resources like Parent TV which pull together evidence-based practice and expert opinions for parents.
Granted some of these sources can provide conflicting information or it can be hard to know how it applies in a practical sense, but nevertheless there is plenty of information available to help inform your chosen parenting style.
Of course, some parents rely predominantly their intuition or gut feeling and there is a lot to be said about that too. As parents we know our children best and sometimes we are presented with situations that no book has provided the answer for yet. Any mother of a newborn will tell you they functioned primarily on instinct in those early weeks!
The problem with relying solely on intuition when parenting is that we can often be driven by primal reactions, which are not always tempered to suit the immediate needs of our children. Fatigue, stress and illness can all compromise our ability to use our intuition effectively as our adrenal system takes over and flight or fight mode kicks in.
We’ve all be there. It is the end of a long day, the house is a mess, dinner needs to be made, homework has to be done and the children are whinging. One whinge too many and we can snap. This might result in us yelling at the kids, possibly without due cause, as our instincts to protect ourselves kicks in.
Now of course, millions of parenting experts would advise a different course of action in this situation in the name of creating a harmonious and safe environment for the whole family.
What’s a tired parent to do?
The answer, like most things in life is a bit from Column A and a bit from Column B.
It is more than possible to combine research and learnt skills with our parental intuition. By using evidence-based knowledge to complement our innate knowledge and understanding of our own children, we can and should grow as parents and provide the best possible childhood for our kids.