Trusting the Inner Voice
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At Baan Dek, we feel we have a two-fold mandate:
- Guiding children
- Supporting families
Families have trusted us with their Most Precious. During these three, or eight, or ten hours we spend together, we are caring for these children, helping them grow, putting them in touch with just the right materials and experiences at just the right time.
Perhaps even more important is supporting families. We are just one step on this path. Families have done incredibly important work before their child joins us at Baan Dek, and will continue to keep their children company on their journey long after we are a memory. We’re helping to build a strong foundation, but the foundation is just the beginning.
Information has never been more accessible than it is right now. I can Google “risks and benefits of vaccinations” and have millions of links in less than a second. I can send my pediatrician a photo and receive a prescription for pink eye, all without leaving the house. I can video chat with my own mom for advice on removing a splinter, and ask Siri or Alexa to play a song while you get that same splinter out.
What should I feed my child? What’s a nutritious lunch? Lunch ideas. Healthy lunch ideas. Is sugar bad for children? When should babies start solids? Is dairy good for babies? Is dairy bad for babies? How much should babies eat? How much should babies sleep? Best sleep practices. Safe sleep. SIDS. Co-sleeping. Is co-sleeping bad? How to sleep train. Is my baby sleeping too much? Is my baby sleeping enough? Too soon to potty train? Too late to potty train? Toilet learning. Elimination communication. We can google anything, and we’re met with a thousand answers, which trigger a million more questions.
“We’re helping to build a strong foundation, but the foundation is just the beginning.”
With information so easily and readily available, we’re comfortable asking for help. We want to find and implement best practices. We want to do what’s Right, and we’re acutely aware of all that we don’t know. So we ask. We ask elders, we ask experts, we ask the internet. Forums, Facebook, Friends. Anonymous sources, older siblings. Those who have been here before and those who have dedicated their life to studying this very thing. And as we listen to others, seeing out The Right answer, our own little voice, our judgement, our expertise in our own child gets quieter and quieter, sometimes silenced, sometimes mistrusted, sometimes forgotten.
Each parent is the expert in their own child. While we know childhood well, you know Your Child the best. You know the breath in the night that means a fever is coming. You know that imperceptible hiccup before a fall. You know the laugh amid an ocean of glee. You know when it’s not enough, too much, just right. But the noisy experts, the barrage of information, we too easily forget this.
Sometimes the experts are wrong.
We’re often asked about sleep habits, or eating, or behavior. Is this typical? Why is my child waking up in the night? She seems to have good energy but is she eating enough? He’s always hungry even though he ate as much as I did.
It’s natural to be concerned when a child doesn’t follow the playbook. Sources say a child should be sleeping 12-14 hours a day. My child only needs 8-10, or is still sleeping all night and often needs a nap. Is something wrong? I packed a full lunch and they’re still hungry at pick up time. Is something wrong? They’re so kind to their friends but they get crabby with their sibling, is something wrong?
Nothing is wrong.
I like to give this example. For most people, penicillin is a cure. For me, I could end up in the hospital. No, nothing is wrong. No, I don’t just need to try harder. No, the experts are still to be trusted. It just doesn’t work for me.
The same is true for children. A child might walk at 9 months or 19. A child might talk at a year or at 3. A child might read at 3 or at 5. A child might eat a handful or a plate full. Yes, a child who is not yet two might be done with a nap. Yes, a child who is perfect at school might still “act out” at home and no it’s not because you’re doing anything wrong.
All the information is good. We don’t need to all get medical degrees, and become experts in education, and read everything that’s ever been written about childhood. Access to this is a gift, technology is a tool, and why would we not use every tool at our disposal?
Our own voice is the filter it all flows through. Is this going to work for me? Does this align with my values? Is this what is best for our family?
Don’t. Should. Must. Always. Never. Best. Only. So many voices.
Every voice, every source of information, including this one, is just that: a source. We strongly believe a family’s confidence is the greatest indicator of a child’s success. If 9/10 experts recommend something but it doesn’t align with your values, that’s the only opinion that matters. If all the other dads are doing it but that’s not how you want to parent, that takes precedence. If you don’t trust the advice you’re getting, trust your gut. So often recommendations are made for the best case scenario, or based on the author’s own experience. It might or might not apply to your own situation. Trust yourself, and you cannot go wrong.
Written by:Charlotte Snyder