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Sweating the Right Stuff

Focus on the Right Thing
Focus on the Right Thing

Are You Focused on the Right Thing?

What parenting issues are you stressing about today?

There are so many parenting issues clamoring for our daily attention that it’s almost a surprise that we manage to carve out enough time to feed and clothe our children:

  • Is my baby nursing enough? Too much?
  • If we give up on nursing will she love me as much?
  • My baby isn’t crawling yet. Is it a delay?
  • Why won’t my baby eat anything other than applesauce?
  • Can a diet of only chicken nuggets actually sustain life?
  • Is this the best daycare for my baby?
  • Is there lead in my paint?
  • Has this toy been recalled?
  • Are we doing too many activities? Not enough?
  • If we don’t get enough tummy time will she ever walk?

What the Best Pediatrician Ever Has to Say

I suppose that’s why when my pediatrician agreed to a Q&A with a local Mom’s group the room was packed with parents delighted for the change to pelt a qualified pediatrician with questions without the din of sick children of the pressure of the next waiting appointment to contain them. He was supposed to talk for 20 minutes but was still rolling at almost 2 hours. He covered questions ranging from autism to food fights. Sibling rivalry to video games. Cold medicine to humidifiers.

As the hour wore on a distinct theme began to form within his answers to various questions: your kids are going to be just fine. Whatever parenting choices you make and whatever you child does and doesn’t do, it’s all good.

Children can thrive under an amazing variety of parenting choices. That, with few exception, whatever you decide will work out just fine. And that years from now, most of us will see our children go relatively happily off into the bigger world regardless of, and in spite of, parenting decisions we have made.

Which also suggests this corollary: You don’t need to sweat all the parenting decisions because whatever you choose is fine and unlikely to make much of a difference anyway.

After reducing our parental anxiety about vaccines, sibling rivalry, their unceasing love of anything video, fevers, coughs, and temper tantrums, my love of my pediatrician grew even greater when he then said the following:

“How much sleep your child gets is the single best predictor of how many behavioral challenges you are likely to have and how often they’ll be sick.”

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. Sweat Sleeping

There are only so many parenting issues we can stress about in a single 24-hour period. And certainly there are many issues relentlessly clamoring for your attention (getting enough vitamin D? any new toys getting recalled? poop or chocolate?) But helping your kids develop healthy sleep habits is something that parents do largely have significant control over and is worthy of your time and attention. Investing the time, patience, and consistency to develop and sustain healthy sleep habits is worth a significant part of your parenting energies.