Long before we become mamas, we are flooded with information about what is best for our kids. Once we decide we want kids, we seem to notice even more information that’s out there. Our babies come with user guides courtesy of our family, friends, and the internet. Everyone has an opinion about everything. How are we to decide what’s best for our family?
That’s the key right there: we decide. As parents, we have the right and the responsibility to educate ourselves so we can make informed decisions about what we believe is best for our family. Don’t make choices simply because you feel like you *should* do something. Weigh the pros and cons so you can be happy with your decisions and feel comfortable having made those decisions.
Maybe you don’t feel comfortable with a piece of medical advice you got from your child’s pediatrician. You have every right to do your research and decide whether or not to follow that advice. Your decision may not fall within societal norms and that’s okay. Consult with a few trusted friends, family members, or even other professionals who are open-minded but also will challenge you if they feel you’re allowing your emotions to blur your logic. Note: I’m not condoning blatant disregard for medical advice. I was hesitant to take the advice of our pediatrician one time regarding a feeding issue with our daughter, but after consulting with another professional on the issue, I ended up following the pediatrician’s advice. The difference was I felt I was making an informed decision because I had done the research.
What if you feel traditional schooling isn’t in your child’s best interest? Just because a majority of children go through traditional schooling doesn’t mean yours have to. Research alternative methods for educating your child. The homeschooling spectrum is incredibly wide, ranging from very structured, classroom settings at home all the way to unschooling. Find some online groups and pick people’s brains there. I had no idea how much help there was out there for people considering homeschooling until I started looking.
Want to make changes to your family’s eating habits? Not sure what direction to take or how to navigate all those labels? Reach out to experts in the area of nutrition. I’ve gotten a great deal of guidance and inspiration from my friend Meredith, as well as the Forks Over Knives resources. My family now follows a primarily whole-food, plant-based diet. It’s not easy or convenient, and it certainly goes against the norm, but it is what we have decided is best for our family.
Don’t let anyone tell you what your life should look like. You have the power to create a life for your family that aligns with your vision, hopes, and dreams. It can be overwhelming once you start digging into alternative lifestyle/health/nutrition/education choices. Trust me, it has been incredibly overwhelming for me. I’ve learned that I can’t change everything at once, and there are certain things I may not change at all…at least in this season of my family’s life. I’ve learned to be okay with that.
Just last night, this piece of advice was shared with me:
In evaluating your decisions to “go against the grain” and challenge some things you’ve always held as true, take time to sit down and reflect on the motivation behind your choices. You may not realize some of your motivations. You may have a motivation that’s only 10% of why you are making that choice, but it’s still one of your motivations. You may not realize your motivation until 10 years down the road.
Once you’ve pinpointed your motivations, see if those motivations align with your faith. This can guide you in deciding what changes and choices are worth pursuing and which you can set aside.
What changes might you want to make? What motivates you? Do your research. Reach out to trusted friends/family members/professionals. Discuss your findings as a family. Make decisions that you and your spouse mutually agree upon. The longer you’ve implemented these changes and the more you continue to educate yourself about their benefits, the more confident you’ll become. Your family will still face plenty of challenges, but you’ll be ready for them. Be bold. Be different. Be weird.