Instinctual Parenting (A Guideless Approach to Parenting)

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It's okay if you're the parenting book type... and it's okay if you are!Parenting By Instinct. No, that’s not the name of a parenting book.  …or maybe it is, but I wouldn’t know. I don’t read parenting books.

First of all, I’m not a reader.  I don’t enjoy it, I get distracted when I am interested in what I’m reading, and when I actually do complete a book, I’m almost always frustrated and disappointed with the ending.

Second, I don’t have time to read up just to hone in on my skills. I’m too busy actually practicing my craft in real life. When I have a break from that, I’m doing something else I love like baking, crafting or sleeping.

In most parenting situations, I do what comes naturally. I’m a firm believer that parenting expertise comes from experience. Plain and simple. Maybe I have a devil’s advocate approach, but no two children are the same, and no technique will be 100% successful for every parent/child.

This week, you will get a glimpse of some wonderful parenting books that offer amazing advice here on How Do You Do It?. If you like to read, or feel the need to read parenting books, I hope what you read is easy to apply, and that it works for you. I also hope that you verbally share what you learned (only if it works for you, of course!) with those of us that don’t read.

Don’t get me wrong, I google my fair share of situations. I actually read bits and pieces of an infant sleep book back in the days of sheer mom-of-newborn-twins exhaustion. While reading the book, I realized I already was following the steps the book was suggesting – and I came up with it all on my own. Imagine that! (I’m glad I borrowed the book and didn’t actually pay for it.)

In most cases when I’ve been at a loss for innovative options, I go to the masses (the world wide web) and then derive my own path that sometimes works, and sometimes doesn’t work. Try and try again. A few things that come to mind that I’ve looked up in the past are potty training, night terrors, discipline and time-outs. In my opinion, there are no set answers for any given situation that are going to work for you. You do what comes naturally, and when that doesn’t pan out, investigate what comes naturally for others. Then, keep your fingers crossed that someone else’s methods, or a combination of methods, will get you the results you need.

Children are sponges and constantly learning. That being said, raising children is a learning process for us, as well.  We can learn from our own mistakes in child rearing and witness direct results from a change in our approach. Our children’s responses and behaviors are results of our delivery of actions. I don’t need a book to tell me that. When I like a result, I continue the action. When the results aren’t what I was hoping for (tantrum, ignoring, talking back), I create a Plan B (… and sometimes a Plan C, then D).

There is a lot of amazing information out there based on studies and experiments. I get it, and I appreciate that. However, I honestly don’t have a desire or the time to invest in reading up on the latest parenting trend. For every concept that works, there is a complete opposite concept/approach that also works. Kind of like dieting. Eat carbs. Don’t eat carbs. Stay away from fats. Eat all the bacon and cheese you want. Each of these individual ideas worked for someone. The bacon and cheese diet sounds absolutely wonderful absurd to me, but someone, somewhere lost half their body weight on that plan.

If I can offer a suggestion to new parents seeking parenting advice, it would be to not limit your options to one source of information. Be open-minded to what works for others, but know that it may not always work for you. Also, trust your own instincts. If you are truly struggling, know that you are not alone, and there are a million ways to reaffirm that fact, whether it be a 250 page book written by a child psychologist, someone’s personal parenting blog, an online forum or a coffee date chat with your bestie.

You can do this. Kids can be completely irrational little beings, and sometimes things get frustrating and tough. It’s not easy, but it’s doable.  You have it in you, and you have enough life experience to know what you ultimately want for your children without some book telling you that.

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Margie is happily married and the proud momma of fraternal, red-headed twins Wesley and Andrew.  She has her Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Science and went from a full-time to part-time federal worker when her boys were born in 2009. Margie is an active member of her local Mothers of Multiples organization and finds that the friendships she's made with other moms of multiples have been a huge support thoughout the "twinsanity" of life.  When she's not completely exhausted, Margie forces herself to go for runs and tries to eat healthy.  She loves Christmas and anything chocolate, and she enjoys the outdoors, cooking, being crafty and snuggling on the couch with her family and 3 dogs.  Margie is the author of Double the Giggles.

5 thoughts on “Instinctual Parenting (A Guideless Approach to Parenting)”

  1. I, personally, love reading parenting books, but I read books from every different perspective possible. I don’t put all my eggs in one basket, and I don’t think others should ever do that with one method either, because, most likely, you’ll hit a point where you realize it just isn’t going to work for you, or it just doesn’t jive with your inner personality or inner mothering instincts. I like to read different parenting books because I like to take a little bit of this advice and that advice, and figure out what works with me. I don’t trust “The Experts” but trust that I can make the best decisions based upon the knowledge I gleam from others, book, friends, family, internet, or whatever.

  2. I love to read, although I don’t get to devote nearly as much time to reading as I once did. I read a wide variety of things, and I’ve found myself enjoying certain parenting / psychology-type books over the past three or four years, at least now and again. I think parenting books can be frustrating, though, if you are looking for “The Answer”. I really doubt you’re going to find it! 😉 In addition to what I read, I turn to a lot of my trusted mommy friends. Between the books, the moms, and my gut, I eventually figure something out. Well…that…and telling myself, “This, too, shall pass!” Hee hee!

  3. I also like to read but am a big fan of just using books to get ideas and doing what feels right for you and your kiddo (or kiddos as the case may be!). I am looking forward to reading all the reviews this week to see if there are books I want to request from the library! But like you say in your post there are lots of other ways to get this information too!

  4. Such a good reminder. I can get so caught up in doing it “right” that I ignore my instincts. It always makes me feel terrible. At the end of the day, no one has to live in this house but this family, and no one knows our kids like us parents. So we really are the experts in these four walls. So far my best resource has been my local twin mom group. Not that everything works for everyone, but I sure wasn’t going to start from scratch with a plan for transitioning to one nap when I could just pattern after my friend who did it last week! :o) My favorite thing about turning to my friends for advice is that you don’t only see the triumphs; you also get to see the rough patches where things aren’t working. It reminds you that we are all human, trying to figure this out, as opposed to published experts who edit it out the messy parts.

  5. I don’t really read parenting books unless I need help with a specific topic or problem. Even then I usually end up going to my mom for advice since she works for an elementary school. She has years of experience with so many different kinds of children and my own so I always know she can give me an educated opinion.

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