You may find, in the course of raising your child, that there is an enormous volume of advice out there for you to turn to. At times this will be reassuring. When parenting doesn’t come naturally to you, and there will be times when it doesn’t, there will always be someone for you to ask for assistance. There will always be a book or a blog or an article out there to set you straight.
As you go on, however, you could quite easily find yourself buried in well-meaning, but contradictory, expert opinions and advice columns. There is quite literally something out there for everyone when it comes to parenting advice, and you will have to learn to wade through it to find the information that is truly useful to you.
The key to this process is your developing parental intuition.
The Source of Your Parental Powers
You may be aware of many different types of intuition. We refer to a sixth sense or women’s intuition quite regularly, in fact. What we really mean is an ineffable source of information like hunches or gut feelings. It is the evidence that your brain is working on a problem and has put something together that you conscious mind has not yet accessed.
When it comes to parenting, your intuition will be fed by a number of things, including the way your parents chose to raise you, but the most important source of information will be your knowledge of your own child. That knowledge is something that you should never discount. Remember that all the experts in the world lack what you have—you are the world’s only expert on your child. Use that information to your advantage when you are making parenting decisions or trying to choose between bits of professional advice and knowledge.
Using Your Parental Powers
Parental intuition can be a powerfully ally in raising your children. For example, if your child is acting out, you can sometimes use your emotional responses to determine why. This is because you already know what kind of effect their behavior is having on you. You can use that, along with your parental intuition, to determine the source of their misbehavior. A child who is annoying you is probably really seeking your attention, while a child that makes you out and out mad may be looking to win a power struggle of their own devising.
Knowing these things can help you to resolve the situation happily for everyone rather than make it worse. Your parental intuition can help you in other ways as well, usually when you need to make decisions about your child or determine what makes them happy or unhappy. You can strengthen this skill even further by simply spending time with your children. This will help you to forge a deeper relationship with them and to learn more about them as they grow and develop.
How to Find The Right Information
What is the “right” information on raising a child is relatively subjective. There are some bits of advice out there that are objectively wrong, such as articles that encourage you to hit your children. Many studies have demonstrated the negative effects that hitting your children has on them, so in modern times it is considered a poor form of parenting.
Finding the right information comes down to what you need and why. If you need advice on disciplining a child, look for articles that are reasonable and that try to strike a balance. You don't want advice that is too harsh, but you also don't want articles that encourage you to coddle your child too much. Finding advice that teaches you how to be a firm, but fair, parent is key.
Avoid sensationalist articles that push some new fad in parenting. Like many other aspects of society, parenting has trends. There might be a research study, however legitimate, that suggests a certain parenting style is better than others. That can cause new and inexperienced parents to flock to it, not understanding that one research study alone is not enough to vault a certain parenting style to “objectively the best”.
Take your time and do what feels right to you. You're never going to be perfect, so you shouldn't try. If you try to avoid making any mistakes, you'll only end up an anxious and worried mess! Accept that you will make mistakes, and learn from them when they happen. As long as you're doing your best, that's what matters.