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…..Yourself!

Sound odd? Well you really shouldn’t be that surprised if you think about it….

So here is my take on things. Firstly, I am no professional but I really don’t think you need a piece of paper to state the bleeding obvious…..right? Sure, I won’t cover everything, I will neglect other issues and some of you won’t agree with me, but that’s ok. I keep stressing, (no pun intended), to people that like our kids, we are all unique as well. What works for you doesn’t work for me and vice versa.

Don’t get me wrong, I can lose my shit like every other parent out there,…..no I don’t mean hitting, I just mean I can’t focus on the task at hand with two boisterous, young, energiser bunny, OCD type 20 month old twins hanging off what is left of what used to be called my leg & I wouldn’t be as calm at other times if I didn’t….

So…. after being online since 1998, I have been through MIRC, chat rooms, online forums, MySpace, Gmail Circles, Twitter, Facebook and now on my own multiverse of the Web. Invariably I have often stumbled upon posts, new feeds and questions that leave me wondering what is really going through some peoples minds, other than a early winter’s breeze….it would account for a lot of the brain freezes I have read over the years if nothing else.

More often than not, I see people start their post with something like this…

“I am worried / concerned about…..”

Ok, hold it right there! I haven’t even read what the post is about and I can see a glaringly obvious problem, but I’m getting ahead of myself here….

Where was I, oh yes, a parents biggest stress factor…..

I challenge you to actually READ your next post on a board or website before you post it. I don’t mean read as in look for typos, I mean read it from a respondents point of view. Does it sound funny? Are you answering you own question? Will I wet my pants when someone gives me advice that I don’t agree with then shout them down until the post is removed?

The three most polarising topics that I consistently see are, in no particular order:
1] Vaccinations
2] Amber Beads
3] Breastfeeding in Public

Leaving these three aside for another night, the next two or three biggest topic headings are something more general, yet far more worrisome, well for me at least.

In a nutshell, these posts harbour a lot of stress for some parents and that simple ability to rely on other peoples judgement is something I am seeing more and more of as the years go by….

Haven’t figured it out yet? Don’t worry, here it is in black and white.

‘Have the confidence to back yourself in the decisions you make.’

*Blink*

There, I said it, it’s revolutionary isn’t it? Sounds too simple doesn’t it? Now, here is WHY I think this is a problem, with a little prelude to flesh it out a bit…..

As a kid raised in the 70’s, we did things that the kids of today would trade the PS3 for, (if they knew where the off switch was),….. a small thing called ‘life experience’.
Don’t get it? Ok, let me fill in a bit more detail for you.

In the 70’s and 80’s, us kids had something special. We didn’t know it at the time, but we did. We had no mobile phones, we actually went to a friends place and knocked on the door and politely asked if our friend was home. If they weren’t, we were back on our bikes (yes, it was nothing unusual for up to 10 kids to be riding around the neighbourhood in a pack), before going to collect another child from under their parents nose for a few hours on a Saturday afternoon.

In those days we had to make our own decisions and then we had to back them up with our own consequences. We had to know right from wrong, we had our parents trust that we went out as a pack and returned the same way. We looked out for each other and stuck together, we had too, we were literally a second family.

From these glorious days we learned that nothing was perfect, that we’d break an arm falling out of a tree and that double daring someone to do something was a real knee trembler. BMX bikes, public swimming pools, riding in the concrete flood ways, catching tadpoles in the creek or playing cricket across the road meant fun, learning and responsibility. We all had a younger brother or sister we had to keep an eye on at some stage, but it gave us the accumulative wisdom that those over 35 seem to magically possess today.

Yes I know today’s society is full of strange people and very different from back then but I did warn you I was not going to cover everything…..

So where is all this stress of parents today coming from?

It is coming from yourself. Its true, I swear!

How many of you have asked a question with ‘I’m not sure about’, ‘what do you think I should do’, ‘I’m worried about’ in the first two sentences?

I mean no disrespect to any generation born after 1985 but you just didn’t have the same upbringing as us. If you were a 70’s kids you will more than likely say,’I’m going to try this, and it of that doesn’t work I am going to try that…etc.”

Now this is a broad brush to stroke with, especially since I know some absolutely super Mums and Dads born post 1985…

We had the confidence in ourselves to know if we should ask a group of friends a medically related question, or if we just go straight to the doctor. It gets me how many people think other unqualified people on the web will have a miracle cure for the question they ask…..then get get upset when they don’t hear what they wanted to hear, oh and Google does not qualify as a doctor either. So many spots on a child doesn’t constitute a full blown case of the measles….it could just be sandfly bites.

To many times in the past I have seen people do this and the end result is only more tears. Eventually they have to seek professional help and then they come back to complain that nobody told them what the doctor said, or that if they had gone earlier they wouldn’t need the expensive treatment they now have to shell out for.

Today, everyone, in some way or another, needs a consensus of options from total strangers to do what should be ‘the right thing’ before just doing it.

For crying out loud people, take responsibility for the situation and forget what others ‘think you should do’ and just do what has to be done. It’s crazy and it is STRESSFUL, not only to you but your whole situation at home.

We have been told, that as older parents that we are ‘remarkably calm as parents of multiples’. This comment baffled me at first, then I started to wonder why. It didn’t take to much digging to find out why…..

There is a never ending stream of ‘professionals’ out there on parenting that apparently make us feel like we are not worthy, or cannot simply live up to being picture perfect parents. This isn’t saying that some people don’t need a hand, not everyone, male or female is naturally maternal.

Now don’t get me wrong, everyone can have opinions and advice, but it is always going to be in a ‘broad sense’ and not specific to ‘our’ needs. If you want to look at it another way, think beauty magazine. All those lovely photoshopped girls showing us what is ‘apparently’ the way we should look….yeah right. The picture, although presented nicely, is just a distorted view of the reality we deal with on a daily basis.

Tips and tricks are great…in fact they are awesome, but to say that their way is the only way and it always works is just nuts. There has to be flexibility, tolerance, understanding, persistence, patience and a tonne of love to get though just hour hour with your kids on particular days.

Those ‘perfect storms’ seem to arrive hourly……you know, ‘I couldn’t open the baby gate at the top of the stairs while holding 10 bags of shopping, a screaming child and two dozen eggs while the dog was jumping on me. Then i stepped on a Lego block, kicked the dog, tripped on a doll, broke a heel, set off the car alarm, dropped said eggs and the child is now laughing at me’ type moments.

So the question is….. Why do we stress OURSELVES out so badly over things?
Why do we think others always have the answers or know better than us?

I put it down to two things:
1] There was no Parenting Manual sent home with me.
2] We lack the basic confidence to back ourselves.

You’re NOT going to do the wrong thing taking a sick child to the doctors.
You’re NOT going to screw up your child’s life by giving them different type of bread.
You are NOT going to traumatise them by splitting them into separate beds, etc.

Without stating the obvious disclaimer about allergies and reactions, we are expected as parent to get it wrong…just don’t leave the Crayons near the edge of the bench around dinner time. Letting your kids eat spaghetti with purple teeth is never a good look….

So stop projecting YOUR fears on to the kids. They don’t care so long as their well being and safety is the main priority, right after a full belly and a hugs from Mum.
You are more worried about things your kids will not have even thought of, let alone understand. Just don’t plough straight into something like a bull at the gate, think it through a little, devise a strategy and have a go.

Yes, yes, I know….. Again, if there is something you are REALLY unsure about, ask someone who has been through it for a tip or two, stick them into a pot with your own ideas and see what you come up with.

So if you have to separate your twins, triplets, quads or even a 2 and 4 year old for their friends birthday party, think of it as an experience you have to deal with without asking 1000 strangers what they would do. You’re only going to end up more torn as to which way to go than when you first started.

After all, who is their parent and who is responsible for their well being?

Best of all, know that parenting IS riddled with mistakes, learning and fun, it may not be quite as stressful as YOU think it is….

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