Parenting without Fear

There are moments when parenting is just plain hard.

There are immeasurable joys and rewards, but the responsibility feels immense  at times.

It is easy to feel daunted or afraid in the face of the decisions we have to make as parents. Mistakes are made; the threat of guilt sets in. We have the life of a human being is in our hands, but sometimes we’re tired, hungry, hurting, upset or even ignorant. From pregnancy, even a seemingly simple decision can become a difficult one or perhaps more complex than we thought.

We can feel the weight of our decisions as parents, but it is good practice to consider our motivations.

I stumbled across a blog post called Natural Parenting without Fear from Mama Eve and was immediately struck at how well she was saying what was on my mind. I wandered around on there and came across some more posts and read about some of the things I have been thinking for a while now. Here are some of my favorite parts:

This part from “Natural Parenting without Fear”:

What motivates your decision-making?

Stop, and think for a minute.

As parents we make thousands (probably millions!) of decisions for our children every day, starting from before they are born.

Where will I give birth?

How will I feed my child?

Will I vaccinate?

Will I circumcise?

Where will my baby sleep?

Each one of these questions seems to have diametrically opposed answers, with dire consequences if you choose the wrong one:

Give birth in a hospital or your child will die! Don’t give birth in a hospital because they’ll force you into a torture device, laugh at you, and drug you and your baby!

If you vaccinate your child you will compromise their immune system and inject unknown chemicals into their bodies! If you don’t vaccinate, they will either die from a dreaded disease or cause someone else to die from a dreaded disease!

If you co-sleep you will roll over on top of your baby and they will suffocate! If you don’t co-sleep, your child will be lonely and scared and be scarred for the rest of their life!

No wonder the rates of post-partum depression have skyrocketed. Parents have some serious pressure on them to make the right decision — whether it’s mainstream choices or alternative ones.

We need to take the fear out of parenting.

From “Motherhood Is a Terrible Job for Perfectionists”:

The crazy thing is, when I reach for the stars as a mother, I’ve found that it generally means doing less: a simpler birthbeing more relaxed about breastfeeding, and backing off at the playground.

Not surprisingly, I mess up. A lot.

As I learn new skills and try them out, I feel like a toddler who’s climbed up too high and gets stuck, not quite sure how to move anymore but not willing to come down either. And many times I just end up falling on my rear.

When I first learned about cultural barriers to natural birth and breastfeeding, I took on extreme views about what women could do and didn’t think about how alienating my rhetoric could be to women who had difficult births or were unable to breastfeed. As I’ve learned to trust my children more, I’ve had days when I’ve given them too much freedom, and they (and I) have stepped on peoples toes.

It’s painful, and it’s embarrassing. There are times when I think about things I’ve done or said or allowed my kids to do and I want to crawl under a rock and hide forever. But mothering is a job I can’t leave, so I’m forced to wake up the next morning and figure it all out again.

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Lata Murti on April 8, 2011 at 12:47 am

    I really needed to read this right now, Sheila. Thank you.


  2. Sheila, thank you so much for linking back to me and sharing what I’ve said. I have to admit that all these posts are inspired by Janet Lansbury, of (You need to check her out!)

    I am very, very honored to be a ripple in the pond that helps share ideas to help other mothers. Thank you again.


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