Can we just stop comparing ourselves to the neighbors, our co-workers, or even our own parents? No two parents will do it the same. And no two parents should! The best way to be a good parent is to customize parenting to your unique and beautiful self.
This is a lesson I have learned firsthand from parenting, but oh-how-quickly (and how often) I forget!
Recently, I was reminded of this valuable parenting lesson when I had the pleasure of chatting with the adorable and loveable dancing duo Twitch and Allison (from SYTYCD) at the Great Wolf Lodge in Arizona.
They were there promoting their new Summer Splash pool party and I was there living it up with my tween son — and yes, I (nervously) jumped at the opportunity to talk with them about all things love, parenting, and music.
Twitch opened up about what he learned from parenting an infant for the first time. When Allison was pregnant, fear crept in and kept him on-edge. He wasn’t sure he would know how to parent an infant the “right” way.
“I was very worried about how I would be able to dial-in to an infant. I remember stressing myself out and worrying, how will I know what each cry means? This was a new life, man. And I didn’t know how to do it.”
This is exactly how I feel today as a mom to two teens and a tween, after 18 years of parenting. I don’t know what each cry (screech, huff, or silent treatment) means.
This is a completely new-to-me stage of parenting, and I most certainly don’t know how to do it.
Lord knows I make mistakes. Just the other day, I responded to my teen’s moodiness with— well, mid-life moodiness! I acted like a teen myself as I stormed upstairs, slammed the door, and hid in my bedroom for over an hour.
And — I truly thought I was doing the right thing because the alternative option was to scream and yell and throw things.
The new dad can’t decipher cries. A seasoned mom can’t calmly and maturely parent her teens. What’s a parent to do? I called everyone I knew and asked for advice. I didn’t know what to do so, naturally, I asked others, who in my opinion would know better than I.
Twitch, as a new, fearful dad, did the same thing and asked his wife, Allison. Her response was pure love, acceptance, and support. And it is the perfect piece of advice for all things parenting:
“I don’t want to give you advice, you’re just going to know. You’re going to do it your way.”
My wise, older sister often says the same exact words to me when I call her in the middle of chaos for parenting advice:
“You already know, she says. Whatever you do will be the right thing for you and your kids, and if it isn’t you will know what to do next.”
And maybe this piece of wisdom — the one that Twitch and I both received from the people who love us most and have nothing but faith in us — is something we should share more often with parents everywhere.
Just be you. Flaws and all.
Because chances are — your mom and/or dad did a good (enough) job raising you, and when life hands you mistakes and pain and when you mess up, you learn, you grow, and you know how to right your wrongs.
Sometimes the only answer we need to hear is that there are no wrong answers. There is only learning and growth. In parenting and in life.
As for Twitch parenting an infant? He survived. In fact, based on his wise advice, he seems to be thriving:
“If I could go back and tell myself anything, I would say, ‘you already have it — we already have these paternal instincts kind-of dialed in.’
Those instincts kicked right in the moment Maddox was placed in his arms, just as they do for many of us throughout various stages of parenting.
The moral of the story? If you’re parenting an infant or a teen or any child in-between, just be you and trust that your beautiful, unique self will dial-in to those parenting instincts that are already there.
You’re just going to know. You’re going to do it your way. Thanks, Twitch and Allison.
This post was originally published here and is shared with permission.