A Humble Request to All Parents

I am writing this to you from my new perspective as a first time parent. You have all been where I am today and I’m sure you’ve all struggled with the same things that my husband and I have during these last few months. I write this letter to you from a place of respect for what you already know as veteran parents (while we are obviously still have a lot to learn) but also from a place of love in asking some of you to ease up on us newbies.

This letter was not written to anyone specifically, so if you are reading this today and feel that I am targeting you, please know that I have wanted to write this blog post for many months. Now that we are finally getting into the routine of what “normal” looks like with a newborn and feeling some confidence about it, I also started to feel like I could adequately explain my feelings without the emotional roller coaster of new baby stress impacting my words and thoughts.

We are surrounded by amazing parents, from our own parents and grandparents, to aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. We are blessed to have great role models all around from whom we can learn and model our own parenting after. We know that you all love and care about us and frequently want to help by offering advice. So many people have told us tricks that worked for them, things that didn’t work so well, and the best ways they’ve found to feed, nurse, clothe, and diaper their baby. While we know that this advice is given out of love, I must be honest and tell you that the amount of unsolicited advice given by experienced parents to new parents can be TOTALLY overwhelming.

During our first week with our little one, Brantley, we had our fair share of struggles, long nights, tearful days, and frustrations. It was just straight up hard. Every parent knows the stresses of that first week and while we were doing our best, we also sometimes expressed our frustrations and emotions to others through phone calls, text conversations, and social media posts. Sometimes we were asking for help and we were soooo grateful to get your suggestions and opinions. But sometimes we just needed to vent our frustrations and if anything, all we really needed to hear at that point was “you’re doing a great job” and “trust your instincts.” What we heard instead was what felt like a barrage of what we should do differently, what we were doing wrong, why the choices we had made and the programs we were trying to follow wouldn’t work, and it made us feel like whatever we were trying was going to fail. For example, we’ve chosen to follow the recommendations and scheduling suggestions from the Babywise book and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the words “babies don’t know what schedule means,” or “oh honey, they have a book!” in the most sarcastic tone. It’s so frustrating as a new parent to feel like you know what might work best for your child only to have those thoughts and ideas second-guessed by someone else.

The first few weeks of parenthood were definitely hard, but with every frustration and tearful night also came many gracious moments of success. I cannot describe how amazing it felt when we would figure out a trick that got our crying baby to finally rest peacefully in our arms, when he would actually sleep as long as we were hoping he would, and when all the scheduling tips from “the book” actually worked. It felt so good because we had figured it out on our own!

So I’m asking that you, seasoned parents, please be supportive and encouraging to new parents. You do have more experience raising children than we do and I know you mean only the best when giving advice and suggestions. You know what worked for you and your kids and you’re hoping to help us avoid the turmoil of trying one thing after another but I’m begging you, please let US figure out what works best for OUR kids. If we ask for advice give it freely, but if we don’t just give us support and encouragement so we have the confidence to figure it out on our own. (I say this knowing full and well that I have given my fair share of unsolicited advice to others about topics I feel like I know a thing or two about, but this experience has really given me a new perspective.) With every failure comes the knowledge of what didn’t work for our baby and brings us closer to finding the one thing that does work, and each success makes us feel like we really can do this whole parenting thing.

Let’s be honest, us new parents don’t know anything about raising a kid. But it sure does feel good to be figuring it out.

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