In no particular order here are my top ten most controversial or competitive topics in early parenting. My intention is not to be contentious, competitive and I’m not here to instruct. But rather to highlight the importance of developing a strong sense of your personal strategy for navigating these phases or situations. If you don’t have strategies, external pressures will dominate how you manage them; this can often deflate your parenting confidence.
Births – People love talking about their terrible births whether you want to hear it or not. If you have had a good experience, it almost becomes taboo to speak of the birth or at the very least you may alienate your audience. If you are pregnant and are not interested to hear bad birth experiences or, want to avoid increasing your childbirth fear, it is best to decline any discussion politely. No two births are the same, so hearing anyone else’s story is counter productive. It is better to focus on visualising your future positive birth. When you develop your birth plan, don’t look at the best case scenario, focus on what you want and make sure you understand your option.
Having the best and trendiest and everything in the parenting catalogue – Advertising gets to fever pitch by the time you give birth. Marketing relies on parenting guilt, to sell you more than you will ever need. Seriously babies grow so fast and use things for such a short period, that 2nd hand is often like new. By 4-months babies get sick of staring at the sky in a pram. Rest assured babies only need: feeding, cleaning, love and sleep. All the rest is excessive.
Baby Sleep – How much sleep, where they sleep, how they get to sleep and how long they sleep, is all up for heated debate. In my opinion, who cares as long as they sleep. If they have a consistent bedtime routine, they will eventually develop into confident lone sleepers.
Baby Feeding – Breast or bottle. Baby led weaning to mush to supermarket pots. But again, who cares as long as they eat healthy food. When they discover they have an opinion, they will soon throw it all up in the air.
Breastfeeding – There has been a great upsurge of support for mothers who breastfeed in public. But the longer you breastfeed for, the more controversial it becomes. I say the longer, the better.
Nursery / Childcare – The controversial nature of this does depend on your parenting approach. But wherever you stand learning to rely on other adults is beneficial for children.
Sugar and chocolate – If you spend a lot of time around other mothers and don’t want your kids to eat it. You will need a strategy other than saying I don’t let my children eat it.
Potty training – 20-30 years ago potty training happened by 18 months of age. Controversially, these days toddlers are potty trained between the age of 2 and 3, with some, not potty trained until 3 or even 4-years of age. The new disposable nappies make this more possible, but there is intense pressure to potty train as soon as possible.
Letting them take risks in the playground – If being there to catch your child from every fall is your chosen parenting style, you will not fall foul to the roth of others thinking you are not taking good enough care of your child. However, for your child to develop self-esteem and independence, they will have to at some point take risks, fall and fail. If you don’t want to become a helicopter parent, you are going to have a balance between letting them fail or fall and protecting them from harm.
Your boundaries for your toddler – Everyone will have an opinion about what your children should and shouldn’t be doing. Be sure you know what boundaries you have and stick to them consistently. As a rule of thumb, it is important to set firm boundaries around Safety, the moral expectations of your family members and doing no harm to others. It is in a child’s nature to test these limits, but it is not always beneficial to have your way of enforcing them as saying no. It becomes old quickly save it for when you really need them to obey a loud NO. Find alternative sentences which are more compelling and request cooperation.