Following Your Instincts

Every parenting book and magazine out there is filled to the brim with
helpful advice and instructions on how to raise a happy, healthy child.
There are lists to follow, guidelines to which we should adhere, and
flat-out rules. Yet, all of them, at some point in time, tell us to trust
our instincts.

After all, that is why God has given them to us. We have these wonderful
Mommy instincts that cue us into our children, and help us make decisions
that may not necessarily agree with the parenting books and magazines, but
are definitely better for our particular children.

This sounds wonderful. So what’s the problem?

For some unknown reason, parents everywhere seem to use this as an excuse to
do stupid, irresponsible things. When you point out the danger or lack of
logic behind their choice, they will simply say, “Oh, but it is best for my
child.” They feel comfortable doing whatever they choose, regardless of
research or accepted knowledge because “they know best.”

Well, I have news for these parents. Some people are stupid. Yes, I realize
that’s not very nice, but it is true. Your instincts can mislead you, and
there are reasons that we have doctors and scientists to guide us in these
parenting decisions.

Everyone knows that breastmilk is best for an infant. There are scads of
studies confirming this fact, and new research only makes it clearer. It’s
federal law that the phrase “breast is best” be printed on formula
containers. Yet there are parents out there who will insist that formula is
“just as good” as breastmilk, and there is no reason to nurse your baby.
Yes, formula is an acceptable substitute if you are unable to provide
breastmilk, but is not an excuse to avoid it. These parents insist, however,
that after all, they were raised on formula, and they are “just fine”. In
spite of the fact that we are a nation with more obesity, heart disease, and
diabetes than ever before – we are “just fine”.

Well-meaning parents ply their small babies with solid foods. They add
cereal to their bottles, and start offering mashed potatoes when their baby
is only a few months old. In spite of the fact that we know the intestinal
lining isn’t fully developed until 6 months, their particular child had to
have solids because they are “so big” or “need to sleep all night” or simply
because they as parents did and they are “just fine”. In spite of the fact
that we are a nation that struggles with obesity caused largely by
overeating, we are all “just fine.”

Everyone blessed with a newborn son will be asked shortly after giving birth
whether they want to have him circumcised. Parents everywhere agree to this
procedure because “it looks better”, “his dad is”, or because they “don’t
want him teased in the locker room”. In spite of the fact that no medical
organization in the world recommends circumcision for medical reasons,
parents choose to have this done. After all, “it’s better” and “at least he
won’t remember it”. In spite of the fact that Viagra is one of the best
selling new pills, and that lubricants are sold everywhere, at least our
sons p*nis’ “look better”.

In order to leave a hospital with an infant, you have to use a carseat. Mine
were all checked by nurses before we left, ensuring that it was properly
installed and the baby was correctly positioned inside it. We spend
thousands of dollars creating these seats and testing them to make sure they
are safe. There are free checks all over the nation that will help parents
install seats correctly. There are guidelines for how long and in which
position they should be used. Yet there are parents who ignore these
guidelines, and will put a 6 month old forward facing because “their legs
were squished” or “they cried when they were facing the back seat.” After
all, these parents didn’t use carseats when they were young and they are
“just fine”. In spite of the fact that thousands of children die each year
from car accidents and improper use of carseats – we are “just fine.”

Babies have slept with parents in their beds for thousands of years. It was
expected, and unthinkable to leave a baby in another room in a separate bed.
There were children left alone in rooms who died from “crib death”, and no
one knew what happened because these babies were alone. New studies have
shown that babies who co-sleep are safer than babies who sleep alone,
because having an adult next to them helps regulate their breathing. So
doctors issued safety guidelines to make sure co-sleeping is safe, and
suggest keeping your baby near you. Yet there are parents who are convinced
you will suffocate your baby, and that they must have their own space in
order to be “independent”. After all, isn’t this the goal of every man – to
be independent? In spite of this, we spend millions as a nation on therapy
and support groups, longing desperately to belong to a group of family and
friends. Yes, it’s good to be independent.

Because it is so important to be independent, we stick babies in those cribs
and leave them to cry. After all, it’s important that they get plenty of
sleep. Never mind the fact that babies aren’t designed to sleep for hours
upon hours, sleep is important. We can’t allow babies to depend upon their
parents to help them get to sleep! Even doctors who say it is acceptable to
leave babies to cry alone in order to fall asleep don’t recommend beginning
this process until at least six months. Yet there are parents who start with
newborns, and cut out night time feedings. After all, “crying is good for
the lungs” and “it never hurt anyone to cry”. In spite of the fact that new
studies show that crying increases stress hormones in infants, crying must
be good for them. In spite of the fact that we spend millions of dollars on
drugs and sleep therapy for adults each year, teaching our children to sleep
this way is a good thing.

Now that we’ve created this wonderful child who can sleep, we have to make
sure that they are capable of entertaining themselves. So parents spend
millions of dollars buying swings, exersaucers, jumping toys, mobiles, play
gyms, and God knows what else in order to entertain a child who is just as
fascinated with shadows on the wall. This stuff overtakes their home and
empties their bank account, because they need to make sure that the baby can
play alone. In spite of the fact that doctors are careful to recommend that
a baby not spend too much time in these items, and that the best toy for a
baby is human interaction, babies are put on the floor and plied with
electronic gadgets to entertain them. We stick them in front of the
television to watch human faces! After all, they will be smarter, more
capable people if we provide all these wonderful things! In spite of the
fact that they would be perfectly content in their mother’s arms, we must
give them all these things because “babies need them”.

Than these babies begin to mature, and develop their own wonderful
personalities. They begin to get into things, and have that great sense of
mischief that makes life for parents so interesting and frustrating all at
the same time. Parents, because they “need to be in control” or “show who’s
boss” begin to spank their children. Oh, it may start innocently enough,
with a smack on the hand as they reach for the hot stove, but it develops
into a struggle for control over someone who doesn’t even understand the
concept. In spite of the doctors and child development specialists who
assure us that their behavior is perfectly age-appropriate and that spanking
is harmful, parents continue to use it because “they need to learn”. After
all, they were spanked and they turned out “just fine”.

Have I made my point yet? God did give us wonderful mommy instincts –
instincts to protect and nurture our children. But you have to balance
instincts with knowledge. It is no good going with your gut feeling when
there is clear cut evidence that it is wrong. So, yes, follow your
instincts – right after you study, research and learn everything you can
about children. In spite of the bad examples out there, you can do a better
job. And your children may, in fact, turn out “just fine.”

By Mary Eakin
Mother of 3


  1. dcb2012 on April 11, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    Reading your stuff I realize I have a long way to go. It is nice to know I am not alone in my understanding that the information the Pearls provide is not of a loving GOD.
    My work continues as does yours. Blessings to you in this day.
    As always — Kyle

  2. Ignoring your instincts? | Why Not Train A Child? on November 30, 2010 at 8:06 am

    […]And yet mothers often try to squelch those instincts because a man has told them that their God given instincts were wrong. […]

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