Trust your PARENTAL INTUITION… It’s our hidden SUPERPOWER!
I knew from the second week of my youngest’s life that she was going to need a strong mother. She cried relentlessly and would only feed in her sleep. Fourteen doctor visits later and numerous ‘red herrings’, including the fact that the problem was me (?), we demanded to see a paediatrician. Two weeks later we received a milk protein allergy diagnosis and within days she was a different child. The point is that I knew almost immediately something was wrong.
So, this bad experience has taught me a lot. This month, I hope to explore how to celebrate difference without feeling pressure but also the importance of trusting in your intuition and getting support for your child when needed.
First thing’s first, every child is beautifully unique. I have 3 children (one stepson and two daughters) and each of them is so dramatically unlike the other! They all have different strengths and different challenges. They all learnt to walk and ‘stay dry’ at varying ages and learnt to read, write and count at different points. They all have distinct interests and passions. They also think differently and show affection and ask for help in different ways. Now, if that much difference is all within one family, the diversity across a community is vast and the richness of our children should be celebrated!
The Comparison Trap
In our society we like to think of everything in categories and unfortunately this philosophy transfers to children and their development. However, if we consider how different we all are, we can see that this comparison is flawed. I have painful memories of sitting round at friends’ houses for coffee with comments from fellow mums like, ‘We’re rolling over now, aren’t we?’, ‘We’re walking now!’ The use of ‘we’re’ somehow intended to make it less like it was a blatant brag but actually grated me even more. I was more in the category of, ‘We have been up all night…’ or ‘we’re not coping so well’.
These silent competitions are draining and breed insecurity and anxiety about whether our child is ‘on track’ and whether we are good enough parents. These feelings are unhealthy for us and our child. Please take it from someone who knows; every child is different, develops at a different pace and will take steps when it’s the right time for them.
When to get support…
Parents have often asked me when they should be worried about their child. My answer is always the same; you are the expert, trust your instincts. There is a point where certain behaviours or slower development start to raise a concern. At two, my youngest began speech therapy. She was not yet talking and although the health visitor put it down to late development (due to sickness) we pushed for a referral. She is still receiving speech therapy now, 8 years later. My instincts were right and early intervention was key. A parent’s intuition is a superpower.
No to ‘normal’
Whatever their differences, whatever their challenges, children thrive with the loving support of parents. Most importantly our children should never feel they need to aspire to being normal but instead be proud to be their unique and beautiful selves. So, let’s say no to ‘normal’, trust our gut and celebrate the rich diversity of our amazing small people.
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