4 secrets of parenting the books don’t tell you

There are plenty of things you can learn from parenting books – which tenth of a degree Baby’s temperature can’t go over before it’s officially a fever, whether it’s normal that he is scooting around the floor like that, and exactly what timeline of developmental milestones he’s going to completely ignore as he grows at exactly his own pace. There are some things parenting books tend to miss, though, either because they’re supposed to go without saying or because they’re things it’s hard to believe until you see them for yourself, though it never hurts to hear them ahead of time.

  1. You will make mistakes
    That’s not a judgment – it’s a universal truth, and it can be a comforting one. You’re going to make mistakes, because that’s how life works, so isn’t it better that they’re the mistakes they are, and not the ones they could be? Sure, you forgot your breast pump before heading out for work the other morning, or you forgot Baby was napping and answered the phone at a really inconvenient moment last week, but you haven’t set him down on the moving baggage carousel at the airport and watched him be claimed by another family.
  2. Don’t set plans for the future in stone
    You may think that Baby is never going to watch television, and his school lunches will always be a perfect, gourmet balance of unprocessed, wholesome goodness, but there’s no way to know what the future will hold. Deciding what you’re going to do in a certain situation before you’re there can set you up to be disappointed with yourself for perfectly reasonable decisions. Instead, trust that by the time you’ve reached the time to make a decision, you’ll have a better idea what the right thing to do will be.
  3. Trust yourself
    Not in that sometimes-hokey ‘just trust your intuition’ advice, because that’s not always helpful – some new parents do get instinctive guidance from their guts, but plenty of others don’t feel like they are guided in how to parent by any set of instincts. There is nothing wrong with that, and if you’re in that second group, that doesn’t mean that you don’t get to trust yourself. You’re still one of the people who knows Baby best out of anyone in the world, and even if you don’t know exactly what to do, you get to listen to any advice you’re given, evaluate it, do your own research, and then decide what to do.
  4. Baby is stronger than you think
    The list of things not to do when you’ve got a baby in the house is long and detailed enough to make anyone think that babies fall apart if you look at them wrong. And while it’s true that babies are delicate, and susceptible to a lot of things, it’s also true that they’re stronger than they look, and that they can bounce back from a lot more than it seems like they can. They can’t bounce, though, so of course you should still be careful not to drop him – though he definitely has a good chance of being okay if you did.

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