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I Am the Parenting Expert

My entire life I have been fiercely independent. It takes a lot for me to ever ask for help, and I am far more likely to spend hours educating myself on each and every decision I make than I am to simply follow the crowd. I tend to believe there are several right ways to do everything, and that the real key is finding what works for you.

It is a philosophy I have applied to parenting since day one.

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I have friends who cloth diaper, breast-feed, co-sleep, cry-it-out and vaccinate. I have friends who do the exact opposite of each of those things as well. The respect I hold for each of my friends and their parenting abilities is beyond measure, but there are certainly things I do differently from them.

We are our own people, after all. And for the most part, we get that we won’t always agree on parenting philosophies. That’s OK. They are raising their kids, and I am raising mine.

One of the things that has struck me about parenting, however, is how often others will question and even downright criticize the choices you are personally making. Everything you do elicits a comment from someone else about how you could (or should) be doing it better. I am convinced I get this worse than most, because of the fact that I am a single mother. I swear there are those who assume that because I am doing this all on my own, I must be completely lost. Surely I am in need of their guidance, and it just wouldn’t be right for them to miss a chance to share their vast parenting knowledge with me.

Or would it?

· You know you can still breast-feed, right?

· You are holding her too much.

· She can’t sleep like that forever.

· That broccoli has been cooking too long, but, I mean, fine … if you want to serve her food with zero nutritional value.

· Those pieces are too big.

· Her bib is too dirty.

· You are cutting that wrong.

· Put this on her butt.

· Just a dab of whiskey on her gums.

So how about we give all new parents the benefit of the doubt for awhile?

· Do this to help her walk.

· Or this.

· Or this.

· Teach her a foreign language.

· A little TV won’t hurt.

· Put socks on her.

· Get her a blanket.

· Can’t you see she is too hot?

· You’re feeding her too much.

· She clearly wants some more.

· Pierce her ears.

· Stop her!

· Give her some freedom.

· You worry too much.

· You don’t worry enough.

· You’re doing it wrong.

· You’re doing it wrong.

· You’re doing it wrong.

Everyone is an expert, and there are those who seem to take offense if you don’t do everything exactly as they would. But what so many people don’t seem to get is that when it comes to my kid—I am the only expert. It doesn’t matter how many children you have raised before, or what degrees you may hold; you had the opportunity to raise your offspring as you saw fit. Now it is my turn to do the same.

And it’s not as though I do anything wildly inappropriate or out of control. I am a well-educated mama who puts a ton of effort and thought into every parenting decision she makes. And you know what? My kid is awesome. Everyone who meets her agrees. Sure, sometimes I think that may have all just been incredible luck on my part, but deep down, I also know that a lot of it has to do with me. With how I am raising her; how I am allowing her to experience the world around her.

It turns out, I’m a pretty damn good mom.

So how about we give all new parents the benefit of the doubt for awhile? Let’s just assume that while you may have been an expert on your kids, they are the only expert on theirs. Heck, let’s even go a step further and simply butt out, realizing that most mommies and daddies have people and resources they already rely on and trust for their baby rearing questions, and if they want you or me to be one of them, they will ask.

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In the meantime, I’m going to keep doing my thing, raising my kid exactly as I have been thus far.

Because there isn’t much in life that I would call myself an expert on, but when it comes to her?

I’m the most renowned expert there is.

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