Read Your Baby

Take a break from the how-to parenting books.  Read your baby.

Here’s why.

There are so many questions, right?!  As parents, we encounter an endless flow of questions about these little people.  With the first child, it’s all new.  With each subsequent child, we think we know something, and then the kid throws random parenting curveballs.  

And whether the freely-flowing advice we receive is in response to our questions or it’s passed along completely unsolicited, it often conflicts from person to person.  So what can one do to answer these sometimes big and scary questions, and no one seems to know, or everyone seems to know but none of it is the same answer, and at any rate, no outside answer seems to help?  Read. your. baby.

Here’s how to read your baby.

1. Lovingly  watch your child.  Observe her rhythms.  Get a sense of what happens when, with whom, and for how long.  Let yourself become aware of subtleties, things that only you would probably notice.

2.  As this intense reading of your child deepens your connection, hone in on exactly what your question is.  Sometimes that clarification around the question yields something important, revealing an otherwise hidden agenda or deep-seated fear or stubborn pride.

3.  Revisit your track record of previous “aha” moments of discovery in your parenting of this child, no matter how small or insignificant they may have seemed at the time.  Every “aha” is you tuning into your instincts.  What opened up in you to make that essential “aha” awareness?  Perhaps it’s a clue to the opening that is required from you now.  Strengthening your instincts helps to balance out that influx of conflicting opinions, feelings, and advice, because you increasingly have something internal to bounce each idea off of, something greater can resonate.  

4.  Your personal journey that eventually united you with this baby is a body of information to draw from.  What did they look like, the challenges, the celebrations, the wonderings, the fears, the dreams, the growth, the new things you’d never thought about before, how did they appear along the way until you finally held this little light in your arms?  How are those feelings echoing through you now in this new stage?

5.  Know this above all:  you were born to parent this child, and this child chose you.  *You* are the expert on *your child*. 

Sure, books play a great role for so many things.  What wonderful, rich sources of information!  But the parenting titles are all about *other* people’s children.  Their vocabulary and description and story can help to open us up to *what is* in our own families, and their ideas can help to support us as we find our way.  But they’re only part of the story, they’re just to help us get started.  The best answer for families will come from reading our children.

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