Becoming a parent isn’t a journey that ends when your child is born. You spend the rest of your life “becoming a parent”, learning how to be the best parent you can be for your child. You never stop learning how to parent, even when your children have grown up and had families of their own. There are always new ways you can learn to relate to your children and new ideas to pick up. From the very first days of parenting when you get to grips with feeding to giving your grown-up child life advice, parenting is a journey that has no clear end.
But you can’t learn only from looking inwards. Much of parenting is down to instinct, but there are still many parenting issues that require you to research and seek advice. However, there are so many different pieces of advice on every issue coming from so many different corners. How do you know who to ask and who to listen to? Does your mother know best or is a child psychologist more knowledgeable? Should you ask your friends or read parenting websites? Ultimately, your final parenting decisions are entirely yours to make. But advice from other sources can be valuable in helping you make those decisions. You can use the following sources of parenting advice to help you, although you should approach some of them with caution.
Family members are often more than willing to offer parenting advice at every turn. And it’s not always appreciated. Parents and grandparents especially like to put their oar in where it’s not welcome. But you should keep in mind that they’re just trying to help, even when it sounds like they’re being judgemental. And advice from family can often be extremely helpful. Even if times have changed, some parenting methods are timeless. After all, your parents and grandparents, as well as other family members with children, have done it all before. Perhaps they won’t have much of value about raising children in the internet era. But they’ll certainly have tips about a range of other topics.
The important thing is to know how to take, or not take, a family member’s piece of advice. To avoid stepping on feelings, try to be gracious about accepting advice, but be firm if it’s constantly unwelcome. A couple of pieces of advice that you choose not to follow can simply be waved away. But if a family member is consistently offering advice you disagree with, a firm request to stop might be in order. Try to be gentle though; even if they’re being a bit obtuse, they are still trying to be helpful.
Friends and parents who at the same or similar stages in their parenting careers (or perhaps a bit ahead of you) can be very useful too. They’re raising children at the same time as you. So they understand the problems present and solutions available in the modern world. Whereas one of your parents might not have many ideas about how to keep your child safe on the internet, current parents will be carefully considering this issue too. It’s great to be able to discuss things with parents who are dealing with the same issues, and parenting groups can be a great forum for this.
But remember that just because something works for another parent, it doesn’t mean it will work for you. You can pick up some great new ideas and share tips with each other, but you don’t have to follow the crowd. Don’t allow yourself to succumb to peer pressure, which does still exist when you’re an adult. Just because another couple only lets their child eat organic food, it doesn’t mean you’re under any obligation to do the same.
Parenting websites are a fantastic place to get an incredibly diverse range of ideas and opinions. Within a friendship group, you might find parents with very similar outlooks on parenting. But on the internet, you’ll find parents from all walks of life who can offer opinions on just about every kind of problem. Some sites will cater to certain parenting issues, such as parenting a child on the autistic spectrum. And of course many sites will still have a particular parenting outlook. But the beauty of the internet is that you can find many different websites in a short amount of time. If you want help on a particular issue, you can just use a search engine to find hundreds of opinions and expert knowledge.
Sites like http://www.essentialkids.com.au/ offer articles on the latest issues in the parenting world. You’ll find everyday parents as well as experts on child care and health writing factual and opinion pieces. And as well as being able to read all this useful information, you can usually engage in discussion too. Either through the comments on a blog or in a dedicated forum, you can get even more opinions and knowledge through people’s discussion of the articles.
When you’re researching online make sure you gather opinions and knowledge from a number of places. Don’t rely on one person or one website to give the best advice. The internet gives you access to experts that you probably can’t access in “real life”. So take advantage of the fact that you can read advice from doctors, teachers and parenting experts.
Finally, parenting books may not be as ever-changing as websites, but they’re still useful tools. Reading a book is a good way to go in-depth on a particular issue. A website often focuses on short pieces and is constantly updating. But a book can explore a topic further and doesn’t need to keep moving onto new things. As with websites, it’s a good idea to compare more than one book on the same topic, instead of reading one and taking it as gospel. Books are particularly good for all the basics of parenting a newborn baby. But read them before your little one comes along, and you don’t have time anymore.