Instead, like every other family, we are lovingly fumbling our way along in all areas of child-rearing doing our best to feed, clothe, amuse, discipline, inspire and intellectually stimulate these incredible human beings know as our children, so that one day we can sit back with pride and breathe a sigh of relief. (Plus, take a well-earned vacation to Maui.) Along the way, we are often faced with the compulsion to be that perfect, always-on-point parent. See if you can relate with our top eight pet peeves related to parenting peer pressures.
1. Organic Only, Baby
Nutrition is one of the most opinionated topics around child rearing. From breast is best vs formula feeding debates to jar food vs making your own perfect purees, it can feel like everyone is doing it right -but you. There’s no harm in being inspired by various baby food enthusiasts, and where possible especially in some categories of foods you may want to allocate more of your grocery dollars towards organic options, but making your own choices is the sign of a confident parent. So, follow your gut (literally) and do what makes sense for your babe – and your lifestyle.
2. Stroller Derby
Once upon a time strollers were essentially the weight and scope of collapsible umbrellas, and somehow, we all miraculously survived them. Today, these three and four wheeled beasts are couture-esque status symbols with the accompanying price tags.Considering our modern environment; the miles of ground they will cover and how much they now carry, it’s understandable that technology advances have trickled down to the stroller universe. Having the Maserati of strollers, however, won’t make you better parents, keep your child happier or alleviate any of the daily duties of modern child rearing. Don’t get caught up in the hype – just keep on rolling with whatever makes sense for your budget.
3. Jean Machine
Pregnancy tends to be a forgiving physical state for most women. Sure, pregnancies come in all shapes and sizes, but at the end of the day, you are growing a small human in your belly – and right there you qualify as a walking miracle. No one, least of all you, should care less about how the fit of your maternity jeans compares to anyone else. The arrival of your babe can sometimes change all that. Suddenly (thanks in large part to celebrity gossip sites and Instagram posters) you start feeling pressure to pack away all your pants with expandable waists and forgiving tops. Don’t. You’ll find your right post-baby fit eventually and in the meantime keep yourself comfortable.
4. Birthing Better
The concept of having a more relaxed, self-directed birth sounds wonderful – and it is. There are many benefits that fans of hypnobirthing and similar strategies have shared (and, who does not want a more peaceful and calm birthing environment!) however, like babies themselves, no two birth stories are exactly alike. Choose whatever path works for you and your partner (as directed by an experienced birthing practitioner) and don’t second guess yourself afterwards. See that bouncing ball of baby joy lying next to you? Whatever you did to get him or her out into the light, you clearly did it right.
5. Up In Arms
Keeping on top of all the recommended information when it comes to: getting your baby to sleep, where they should sleep, how they should sleep, why you should or should not use a pacifier, why their room should or should not be warm or cool or light or dark – and it goes on and on, can be exhausting especially for an already exhausted and well-meaning parent. (One of our favourite viral rants on following parenting advice can be found here.
Yes, we should all follow sound suggestions, and stay up on the latest research, but if something is working for your babe – say, they strangely love falling asleep to soft acoustic Justin Bieber songs – it may be worth staying on plan.
6. Milestone Markers
A child’s DNA is coded during fetal development so it’s nearly impossible (in most cases) for us to have an impact on hundreds of factors, including things like weight and height percentiles. You will undoubtedly be exposed to the casually dropped “he’s in the 95th percentile for height and weight!” on the same day you are worried your babe isn’t growing as quickly. Fast forward to conversations about when someone else’s baby is already crawling, walking, reading, biking, accepted at Yale for pre-med…and you get the idea. If you are genuinely worried about developmental milestones, that is one thing, but avoiding the parent trap of comparing kids and their accomplishments is a lesson well-learned early on.
7. Snap Happy
You know the type. No matter what the outing, every hair is effortlessly in place (even on the baby), said baby is in a cute, unstained outfit with matching cashmere booties. The husband looks adorable and loving, and the just-seconds-ago postpartum new mom looks like she had a blowout and a stylist on site. Instagram (and all other social media sites) is just that, a gram in the full measurement of time. Hopefully the family described above is truly living the dream every day, nothing wrong with aspiring to that. For the rest of us, don’t shy away from photos or let the moment pass because it isn’t picture perfect. Celebrate your real life and let your happiness shine through, and on the big occasions for photo ops? Why not splurge on a blowout.
You will put enough expectations on yourself to make sure your baby has the best things in life: love, health and happiness. Succumbing to a bit of outside parenting pressure is understandable and in small doses, sometimes even motivating, as is the reminder that there truly is no such thing as a perfect parent.
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