What Every Rookie Parent Should Know
Posted on December 13 2016
Is Parenting Hard Or Easy?
We keep hearing that parenting is hard, that we will make lots of mistakes along the way and that everything will eventually be alright no matter what.
Is it really true? That last sentence sounds pretty easy to me.
Parenting is hard … Yes.
We will make lots of mistakes… Yes.
Everything will be alright no matter what… MAYBE.
What Every Rookie Parent Should Know
In a study published in the journal Nature Genetics, researchers from Queensland Brain Institute and the VU University of Amsterdam analyzed 14.5 million pairs of twins from almost every twin study ever done in the past 50 years.
They found that a person’s behavior and character traits are influenced roughly the same by genetics (nature) and by environment (nurture).
So we are not products of nature OR nurture. We are the results of the combination of nature AND nurture.
Parenting is at least as important as the genes we’re born with.
Parenting can determine whether everything will be alright in many cases.
What Parenting Advice Should Rookie Parents Seek
Many baby books are written to help parents survive the first year of parenthood. They give excellent advice on how to handle breastfeeding, bowel movements, vomiting, occasional fever, speaking or walking milestone delay, etc.
Knowing there will be numerous sleepless nights and gross spit ups can certainly help parents be mentally prepared for the upcoming challenges.
But there is more to it.
When I was pregnant, I attended a seminar given by a pediatrician/researcher on sleep training. She advocated strongly using Cry-It-Out (CIO) to sleep train young children starting at infancy.
I naively followed that advice. I followed exactly the “gentle” advice. I followed all the steps.
One night, after multiple sessions of “gentle CIO”, my daughter eventually “fell asleep” as the experts would say.
But she didn’t fall asleep. She collapsed. Due to exhaustion from crying.
She fell asleep while kneeling by the crib side with her hands still gripping the crib’s edge.
I was heartbroken. That was just not right.
If my daughter hadn’t fallen asleep in that position, if she had collapsed in a laid-down position, I would have thought she had fallen asleep, too. I would have thought she had finally learned that it was time to sleep. I would have thought she had been alright being left alone.
The truth is babies stop crying because
- they believe they will not receive the help they need, and/or
- they collapse out of exhaustion.
Neither one was what I thought I was doing to my daughter, until I saw that picture.
Not only was I sad, but I was also angry.
I was angry at the medical professional who gave out such bad parenting advice. I was angry at myself for taking that advice without question. I was angry that I didn’t research about this myself earlier.
I set out to read every scientific literature on babies and child development.
I was upset when I found out the negative long-term impact it could have on my child.
Why Science-Based Parenting
Since then, I have been obsessed with science-based parenting.
I crawl through volumes of scientific studies, journals and literature in child development, psychology and neuroscience to learn all I can about the science of parenting.
I want to spread what I have found to all the parents, all the pros and cons of common parenting practices according to science, not anecdotal stories or personal belief.
I’m not saying you should take my words for it, or view me as an expert in parenting. I am not.
Even if I were, as I had shown you, experts could give bad advice, too. (Another such example is how to deal with separation anxiety on first day of preschool)
My goal is to present you with scientific evidence so you can make your own parenting decision that is best for your child.
This is why I have created this blog, Parenting For Brain.
Wish you all Happy Parenting!