Open: When I was ready to have a child, I read many books on pregnancy, learning the best ways to do take care of myself for the health of my child.
Closed. The reality of working full-time, pre-eclampsia edema, and hypertension meant I had to adapt to meet my own needs as well as my child’s, even if it was different from what the books recommended I do.
Open: After I delivered, the nurses in the maternity ward, books, the internet, my friends and family, suggested to me what I needed to do to take care of my baby.
Closed. I cared for my newborn the way that worked best for us after learning who he was, what he needed, and even if it was different from what the nurses, books, the internet, my friends and family suggested I do.
Open: As he grew older, I listened to his teachers, therapists, specialists, counselors, learning the best ways to support him in his growth and learning, including related to his autism diagnosis.
Closed: I took all of the information I had, applied it to what I knew about my son, and moved forward, even if it was different from what the professionals recommended I do.
Because I was the parent and the decision was mine.
Being a good parent includes finding a way to maintain the balance between being open to new ideas, suggestions, recommendations, even opinions, and knowing when to close the debate and move forward with a parental decision.
Almost everyone has an opinion on parenting, from experts to every day people.
And suggestions, recommendations, and opinions can be good. There is a lot of value in collaborative problem-solving, and evidence that the old truism two heads are better than one really is true.
Because I have a great deal of respect for the doctors, therapists, teachers, professionals, and even my family and friends, I often open myself to hearing ideas, suggestions, recommendations, and opinions.
But there comes a time when a decision-maker must make a decision – after being open to new information, the discussion must be closed and a decision made.
One of my favorite bloggers recently wrote a terrific piece about all the opinions she can hear about her parenting of her son on the Autism spectrum.
What struck me most was that this was a woman who successfully raised her son to adulthood. This kid is an adult. As in, she-has-over-20-years-of-parenting-her-son-why-does-someone-think-she-still-needs-advice adult.
She has had decades of being open to reams of good ideas, suggestions, recommendations, and opinions, and she has had decades of making good decisions in the best interests of her child.
That she knows what she is doing is clearly demonstrated in the amazing person she has raised.
Perhaps what the well-meaning advice offerers really need to do is to
- ask what decisions have already been made
- then listen to and learn from the answers
What they may find out is that their advice is really not needed.
The debate is over – the case was closed a long time ago.