The best parenting advice my Mom gave me was no advice at all

//This article was published by Women’s Web on the occasion of Mother’s Day and is available at the below link:

http://www.womensweb.in/2017/05/thank-you-mom-making-me-mother-i-am/

A roller coaster of a journey started the day I saw those two pink lines. Like every other expecting mother, I lived through a deluge of emotions during pregnancy and post delivery. One feeling that was invariably persistent throughout was apprehension. I was always unsure notwithstanding that theoretically, I knew what was in store owing to limitless information from various sources that we have access to in today’s world. This was only natural because fundamentally, parenting is something we learn “on the job”. Like most women, when in doubt, I always turned to the woman who I have revered all my life.  Mom had to face a volley of questions from me on several occasions and inevitably, she would gladly share her experiences and knowledge. In the beginning, I was mentally prepared for a series of instructions from her about the “Dos and Don’ts”. But, on the contrary, not even once did I get a “You should do this” or “You should not do that” or the famous ‘We never did it this way”. All she did was talk to me about her perspective and her parenting methodology, and then left it to me to handle things the way I gauged as appropriate. I never ever felt that she was trying to give me any advice or impose her philosophies on me.

Ofcourse, mothers have all the right to give us tips and advices, all the more at such a momentous stage of our life. We need that support and guidance from them, and they are the ones we trust to have our best interests in their heart. But, it wouldn’t be incorrect to say that at times the bombardment of well meaning advices, even from our mothers, can be a tad bit annoying and uncomfortable. I know that for some of my friends it is a constant struggle to convince their moms during situations when there is a conflict of ideologies. It is true that a part of the older generation tends to be rigid about their beliefs and are not willing to budge. This happens because of different reasons – some want to exercise control, some think they are always right, for some it becomes a matter of ego, and some close their minds leaving no scope for letting in another point of view. I am a member of various parenting related groups and forums on social media, and almost everyday I read posts about moms venting out because the elders in the family force them to do certain things or try to press their ideas on them. From offering biscuits to an infant under 6 months when the mother is clearly not comfortable with it to criticizing her for breastfeeding a toddler to pushing her to feed the baby formula milk without any valid reason, there are numerous such scenarios in which a mother feels pressurized by her own folks and it just adds to the battles she has to fight with them and within.

When I read or hear about these stories, my admiration for Mom as a person gets augmented and I feel so much more blessed to have her in my life. I love the way she understands our generation and acknowledges that things change and evolve over the years. She agrees that years of medical and other research is bound to change the recommended practices, and listens to all that I discuss with her with a very open mind. To cite an example, she had started giving my brother and me juices and other semi solids at 4 months of age. However, she was totally with me on my decision to exclusively breastfeed till my child turned 6 months old. I can never forget her humongous support at the hospital after delivery in ensuring I can successfully breastfeed. How much ever the hospital staff insisted on giving formula milk, she refused and tirelessly kept helping me because she knew that’s what I wanted. I had educated myself in advance on the dynamics of milk supply and the different feeding positions, so I knew that I could avoid formula milk at that point. From then on till today, I have always had the assurance from her that she is there with me at every step, like she has always been since my birth, even if she differs or disagrees with the direction am taking. She humorously refers to our generation of parents as “Google parents” because she has been privy to my spending hours looking up on Google for any and every topic during the initial months post delivery. It never bothered or hurt her that despite her presence I was seeking information elsewhere. She watched my back but let me traverse my chosen path showing immense faith in me and letting me bloom as a mother. This meant a lot to me and still does, even more because I spent most of the time with her after my delivery due to my husband’s long business trips.

Mom – Thank you for encouraging me to trust and follow my instincts. Thank you for believing in my sensibilities as a parent in making informed decisions. Thank you for moving ahead with the times and for having a progressive mindset. Thank you for insisting that a mother knows best for her child and that her choices and decisions should be respected. Thank you for being like a friend through this crazy, wonderful and overwhelming parenting journey. Thank you for sharing valuable information with me based on your experiences as a mother which is always inspiring and enriching. Thank you for being the reason I am able to write this blog today. Thank you for never giving me parenting advices, because that approach instilled the confidence in me to be on my own as a mother and made me realize that the best person to teach me parenting is my own child.

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