Parental Power: A Two Way Street

Happy Thursday everyone! This week is flying by for me and my little man. Hope you’re having a good one.

I want to talk about something I struggle with as a very new parent. I struggle with this because the “assistance” I am referring to comes from a place of  love.

I’m sympathetic to this. The power dynamic shifts when “the kids have kids.”

Grandparents, in particular, have the hard task of letting go and letting their own child learn to be a parent. Sometimes, the letting go is hard.

I’m sure you will relate to this, at least on some small level.

Enjoying Florence, Italy in my second trimester.

Fact: When you have a newborn, EVERYONE tries to give you advice. Not just grandparents. And most of that advice is unsolicited.

Make no mistake, you need help. You do. There is not one baby book that can honestly prepare you for the real life “OMG” moments you WILL encounter with a baby.

In those moments, you probably have resorted to calling the grandparents, your best friend who has a kid or two, or maybe you call your pediatrician.

Emphasis on the fact that YOU are doing the calling and asking.

What about the other times, though? When you’re at a family event, or the park, or simply hanging out at the house when your child has loving visitors?

Then, someone says something like, “Well back in the day, we didn’t do ‘X’ with our kids! You don’t need to do ‘X’!”

My personal favorite is when you’re out and performing a task for your child, such as feeding. Then someone says, “Oh I’ll do that, you need a break!”

I don’t know about you, but for me, it’s not a break when I watch someone else feed my child. It stresses me the hell out!

And, trust me, I’ll say something that sounds nice like, “Would you enjoy holding him?” when I need a break. 

Do you feel anxiety reading this? I know this has happened to you. Perhaps it was a different context, but I know you’ve felt this way before.

At our favorite restaurant, Antica Pesa, in Rome, Italy

And this creates an issue, deep within. On a very superficial level, both scenarios are correct. Yes, things were in fact done differently “back in the day”. Sure you probably need parental breaks here and there. But you’re an adult, you’re a parent. You know when those breaks are needed.

More importantly, you call the shots for your own child!

It is possible that you do actually know what’s best for your child. As a mama, you carried him or her for a very long time. You have a vested interest in the wellbeing of your child. You’ve worked hard to get to this point. If you’re a dad, and like my husband, you have judiciously read about germs rules, attended pediatrician appointments and are protective of your little family.

As a new parent, you take your newly acquired responsibility seriously. So it’s very hard to stomach veiled criticism.

I mentioned germs. From the minute I was pregnant, germs were critically important. Germs are good things … for adults. Not so much for newborns. So when my husband I implement weird inconvenient rules about germs, please honor that and please, we beg you not to make us feel like evil people afterwards.

I cringe when multiple people have uttered, “Germs are good for them. One day you’ll calm down about it.”

Last time I checked, you didn’t hear the pediatrician’s soliloquy about keeping our son away from germs. You wouldn’t be the person to deal with the crying/sick baby at night. You won’t see baby struggle to eat if baby is sad or ill. You don’t have to endure those possibilities.

I know this sounds kind of, well, bitchy.

It is supposed to.

Because I no longer care if someone is temporarily mad at me or my husband because baby couldn’t be held, or taken somewhere, or can’t eat something that seems fun and cute.

I care if I am a good parent to my child. I care about his well being. I care about his health.

That’s it.

Hopefully, that makes me a good parent. Hopefully, other parents find solidarity in this rant.

Yes, one day I’ll care less because my son will be a toddler, then a kid, then a teen. There will be new dangers then. He will have an established immune system by then.

Caffe Florian, Venice

For now, he’s my baby. The one I prayed for every day for nine months. The one I sacrificed many things for out of love (and still do!)

I carried him. So I am unapologetic about how I care for him.

But one thing is for certain, I love that you love my son. And that time happens more than you know … the time where I’m exhausted but my son is otherwise okay, and it feels safe for me to say “here you go”… please hold him and spend time with him. I want him to learn from you and love you.

Because I love you, too. Don’t hold my parental rules against him, he’s innocent. But understand our love for him is why we have any at all.


One thought on “Parental Power: A Two Way Street

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your thoughts on this very important topic! The whole time I was saying to myself …YES!👍
    Keep being a wonderful parent!!

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