Making mistakes is the price you pay for knowledge
Knowledge about babies and children comes less from parenting books and much more from personal experience. As parents, we can learn so much from our mistakes. It’s often very hard to cope after having your first child because you haven’t yet had the benefit of learning – perhaps the hard way – what works and what doesn’t. Parenting usually gets easier after the first child, although there are exceptions as each child brings her own unique set of challenges. I was thinking about how useful it would be if we could learn more from the mistakes that other parents have made so that we could be spared some of the pain of making the same mistakes ourselves. But I have my doubts about this because what is right for one child or parent may not be right for another. Still, perhaps it might be worth exploring older parents’ regrets.
So I asked a 92 year old lady if she has any regrets about how she raised her children. Her response was that she wished she had spent more time with them and given them more love and support when they were young. Many people over the years have told me that they wish they had relaxed and enjoyed their babies and children more instead of trying so hard to get them to sleep, get them into a routine or get them to become more independent. In retrospect, people often wish that they had been less busy with other things and had been more supportively involved with their children, watching them grow and helping them to face the challenges that life throws them.
But none of this may be true for you and I think it can sometimes be dangerous to be too quick to follow the advice of other parents, even in relation to the mistakes they have made. Some people, for example, make the mistake of being too involved in their children’s lives. This can be just as problematic for a child’s psychological development.
There is no recipe and no holy grail for parenting. Different children need different approaches at different times. But you can learn more about the kind of parent you need to be for your own child by making mistakes and learning from them.