Avoiding parental paralysis

We've all had those days. When parenting is just overwhelming.

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Take Jill and Steve. They've read every single book about sleep training. They've has also scoured every blog, forum, and Facebook post about how to get your kid to sleep at night. Sometimes, they're sure they have actually reached the end of the Internet.

But as unfair as it seems, their son still doesn’t sleep well. And they're frazzled, exhausted, and overwhelmed. And they're not alone.

Talk to caregivers today. Many of us feel this way.

We’re faced with a staggering amount of information – books, forums, social media, magazine article - not to mention the advice and opinions from everyone around us. (I'm talking to you, Facebook.)

All of this can lead to parental paralysis - feeling overwhelmed to the point of doing nothing.

If you are feeling this way, here are a few tips from local experts.

Question everything.

"Anyone can put anything on the internet," says Jennifer Best, certified family life educator with Iowa State University Extension. "Saying it doesn’t make it true, healthy or safe."

When you are reading or researching parenting and child development topics, ask yourself who, what and why?

For example:

  • Who wrote this? Is the person an expert? What education and experience does the person have?

  • What credibility does the source have? Is the information reviewed by others or is it enhanced by (relevant) research?

  • Why did the person share this? Is the author trying to sell something to me or defend his/her own decisions?

Trust yourself.

When you reach the point of paralysis, it's time to put down the books and get off the Internet.

"You are the expert on your child," says Sue Klingaman, early childhood mental health consultant at Robert Young Center. "Not the professionals - you."

Many parents put professionals on a pedestal - be it a pediatrician, an author, or a self-professed expert on the Internet. But as a parent, you know your child better than anyone else.

One size never fits all.

The reason that the experts don't know everything?

Because every single child is different. Each has individual preferences and lives with her own circumstances.

Don't just do something. Stand there.

So, you've stepped away from all those experts who mean well.

now what?

"You can learn more by standing back and watching what your child is telling you," Sue explains. "This gives you as a parent the authority to make the best decision