We got some good advice pre-baby about being clear on parenting values. I feel we were lucky to get this.
It's a topic I think about a lot as a parent, and part of our peace be with you course talked about being clear on values too.
You may have seen a post doing the rounds on social media about pre-baby conversations (for the life of me I can't find it - if I do I'll post it here).
It lists what we talk about before baby arrives - what sort of pram? what colour to paint baby's room? do we get a nameplate made? Then it lists the things we should be talking about how do we feel about discipline? how will we cope with sleeplessness? How do we feel about pacifying tools? How often can in-law's visit? Do we want visitors at home in the first few days?
So it was timely that my dear friend introduced me to Kate Ross of Sleep Effect. Kate is known as the baby whisperer due to her care and comfort giving for families. Kate started her career as a Nurse and Midwife and recently became a Child and Family Health Nurse. She is accredited in Neuroprotective Developmental Care and Kate is mama of three too - this mama knows her stuff.
I did a live with Kate on Instagram last week and you can watch it here
Kate has shared her blog post on values and parenting here.
What is the value?
I believe in these challenging times, when we are all feeling vulnerable and uncertain, is a great time to have a conversation with your partner around your parenting values. If you have older children it would be worth including them as well. This week I was really fortunate to have a great conversation with Sally from The Suite Set around parenting values.
Parenting values are what a parent believes are fundamental in raising their children. The conversation around this can be as formal or informal as you like, it’s the dialogue and conversation you have that is the important part. I like to think of it as a seed you sew. Sometimes it needs water, sometimes attention and we all have different ways of helping the seed reach its full potential. Sharing our techniques can help all of us. We then reap the rewards with beautiful flowers! These parenting values can be a great anchor to have, and when times are tough you can revisit them. They can be fluid but the key is not to make assumptions at 3am of what your partner is thinking or believes in!
When I referring to parenting values, I am referring to the beliefs that underpin your decisions as parents. Some common parenting values I hear are providing, loving, nurturing and security. No value is better than another, it is up to the individual family unit.
Ideally every family would have these conversations during pregnancy. Let’s be honest, anytime is a good time. It is never too early to start these conversations or too late. I do know 3am is not the time to start. As we become more sleep deprived our decisions move from rational decisions to ones that are emotive. This is all really normal but before you spend a fortune on a gimmick or try a new approach at midnight, do some reading and check in on how it is making you feel or if you agree with it. If what you are hearing or seeing doesn’t sit well with you, often the root cause is that it does not align with your values. It may sit well with your friend and that is okay. We all need a point of difference at the end of the day.
Feeding your child is often a topic of discussion with my clients. I believe everyday that you can breastfeed is a good day, however this is not possible for everyone. Both parents can also value this differently and an open and honest conversation on expectations is highly beneficial. I speak with women who are struggling with their breastfeeding journey. When we talk about their family values and in more depth with their partner often the partner wants the baby to be fed and nurtured. They do not care how this is done; it is the woman who has presumed breastfeeding was the value.
Another example I often hear about is the inter-generational differing views on crying. Our well-meaning mother, mother in law or friend states “you don’t let them cry enough”. You know what, this is their value not yours. Do not let their beliefs railroad your parenting. Times have changed on letting babies cry and I’m in your camp, babies cannot be loved enough and crying is out! It is about sensibly responding to your baby’s cues. More about that on a different day.
So, if I have made you a little curious or wanting to know more, sit down over the weekend with your loved one and talk about it. There are no quick answers but ponder your values. Revisit them when you are in lock down and becoming a little frustrated, uncertain and vulnerable. It will help anchor you to the most important parts of your life.
It would be fantastic is you can practice a little self-care, mindfulness and even read a great book such as The Resilience Project. Raising children who have an understanding of values and how they are applied to everyday life will be crackers!