Does anyone else completely freak out when they read a parenting book?
I pick it up and start to skim. This looks interesting. Wow, a lot of this sounds like what we're doing already. Wait a minute! I'm in the section of things that you're not supposed to do! Oh no! We're not nurturing enough...or maybe we're too nurturing and not spending enough time teaching him how to play pat-a-cake. Uh oh, he's not eating enough solids...or else he should be exclusively breastfed until he's two. If he doesn't get enough sleep his brain won't develop properly...but if we sleep train he'll grow up to be a sociopath ...aarghhh.
I happen to be a bit of a perfectionist, so my approach to parenting has been to research everything to death. There is truly a sea of advice on the internet and in parenting books, a lot of it contradictory. The problem is that every child is different, every parent is different and every situation is different. How can any parenting book have all the answers? How can any google search for "parenting tips"even scratch the surface of decision making that goes into parenting? There are thousands of great parenting ideas out there, and sometimes I get myself worked up thinking that we're failing miserably if we don't do them all.
When I skim through a parenting book and panic starts to set in I'm gradually realizing that I need to take a step back, a deep breath, and remind myself that we are not perfect. It's one of the great tragedies of parenthood that I can't be perfect for my sweet, innocent Isaac (short of sainthood, of course, which is a work in progress). As inevitable as it may be, it actually breaks my heart to think that our sinfulness will affect Isaac for the rest of his life. We are not perfect, our parenting is not going to be perfect. Sigh. We're just doing the best we can with the information that we have.
The solution, like so many others, lies in prayer. Prayer that, through grace, we'll raise a holy, happy little man, in spite of our faults. And prayer that through parenting we'll have the grace to grow ever closer to God and to sainthood.