I Did So Many Things “Wrong” and My Children Survived

posted by Andrea | 09/20/2017
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Now that I have a few years of parenting experience with multiple children, more and more people are asking ME for parenting advice (instead of the other way around). And whenever anyone comes to me for advice — whether it’s a close friend or relative, or a blog reader whom I’ve never met, I’m always SUPER DUPER careful with how I respond.

I know how harmful so much of the advice I got from more experienced parents was for me — so many “nevers” and “always” and “can’ts” and “musts” — I basically felt like no matter what I did, it would be “wrong” in someone else’s option.

And even though I’m usually not one to be bothered by what other’s think about me, I was VERY concerned with being a “good mom” and doing things the “right way” for my new baby.

I read the books, I listened to every piece of advice people gave me (even the unsolicited stuff), I constantly questioned myself, and I always felt sure I was messing things up.

However, looking back, I can see there were also lots and lots of times when I did what I thought and felt was best for my baby, for me, for our family, and for our specific situation — even though SO many “experts” and books and other people in my life told me it wasn’t right.

According to them, I was probably doing everything “wrong”…

I let my babies sleep in my arms, in the stroller, in the carseat, on my chest, in the swing, in the bouncer, in a bed with me, on the couch, wherever they would sleep — that’s where they slept.

I let them sleep on their stomachs, I used blankets, and I used bumper pads so their heads didn’t jam into the bars of the crib.

I fed my babies to sleep ALL. THE. TIME. (even when they were older — like 18 months)

I let my kids have pacifiers. Nora never took one, but I basically forced them on Simon and James!

I didn’t follow any sort of sleep, eat, play schedule — although I desperately tried with Nora.

I didn’t let them “cry it out”.

I used formula, and store bought baby foods, and sugary snacks.

I allowed some juice and more than enough candy, desserts, and goodies (as Simon calls them!)

I used the TV as a babysitter.

I didn’t force them to leave me if they weren’t comfortable — even though people told me my kids would end up being too clingy.

I didn’t feed them organic foods or totally-made-from-scratch foods.

I didn’t force them to eat foods they didn’t like. They had to try one small bite, but that was good enough for me.

I didn’t get them involved in every single play group or learning opportunity — in fact, we almost did nothing like this.

I didn’t plan sensory activities, educational crafts, super nutritious snacks, or amazing playdates.

I didn’t stress about teaching my kids everything I possibly could so they’d be ahead of the game come preschool time.

I didn’t have potty charts with stickers or rewards.

I didn’t force my super little kids do household chores.

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Now, obviously my children are far from perfect, BUT… Nora, Simon, and James are all relatively well-adjusted, “normal” children (at least in my opinion!)

They eat 3 fairly balanced meals a day with small snacks between.

They drink TONS of water and some juice.

They are happy the majority of the time.

They all go to bed marvelously 99% of the time, and sleep 11-12 hours through the night about 95% of the time.

They all sleep in their own beds with no issues, complaining, bribes, or other “tricks” required from Dave or me.

They function normally (or above normally) for their age group.

They potty trained relatively quickly (once they were ready).

They are very active and nowhere near being even slightly “overweight” or unhealthy.

They love reading, and drawing, and singing, and dancing, and have amazing imaginations… they also love watching TV.

They play well with each other and other children; and although they are often initially shy around adults, they almost always warm up and have great relationships with many adults from church, our neighborhood, Dave and my friends, extended relatives, etc.

.

I did so many things “wrong” (according to the books and experts) and my kids still turned out pretty OK!

Have no fear, mamas — you cannot, and will not, completely ruin your child by holding them too much, by feeding them to sleep, by letting them watch a little TV, or by giving them a piece of candy.

Do what you have to do to keep your sanity. Do what YOU feel is right for your baby, your toddler, your children, yourself, and your family. Ask a few close friends what their opinions are — but be sure to remember YOU KNOW YOUR KIDS BEST!

You know what I did RIGHT?

I tried my best every day and kept trying day after day.

I loved my little people fiercely — and I made sure they always knew it.

I made sure they got as much sleep as possible — no matter how or where it happened.

I made sure their bellies were full — no matter what type of food went in them.

I kept them warm and safe.

I stood up for them and for our family when people criticized my/our decisions or actions.

I prioritized my own family above everyone else in my life — and I made sure they knew they were MY priority too.

.

There are many benefits from seeking advice from others — whether parenting advice or any other subject — but only if you take the advice with a grain of salt (as the old saying goes).

Some of the advice might work; lots of it will not work. Some of the advice won’t work, but it will lead you down another path that helps you find the answers you were looking for.

Whatever the case may be, all of your trial and error (and error, and error) does not mean you’re doing it “wrong” or totally messing up. In fact, it might mean you’re doing it RIGHT — just in a different way. 

Do you love your children? And do they know it?

Do you try your best?

Do you get up every single day and do it all over again?

Do you keep them fed, clothed, bathed, and safe?

If so, you are doing a whole lot of important things RIGHT!!

Give yourself some credit and stop worrying about the books, the experts, what you read on Facebook, what you hear in the news, and all the other advice you’ve gotten over the years.

File it away somewhere in the back of your brain so you can reference some of the ideas if you feel they will ever help… but don’t let all the conflicting advice paralyze you from doing what YOU think (and probably know) is best for your family right now.

How’s that for some practical, no-nonsense parenting advice?

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34 comments

  1. Lynda

    09/28/2017

    Spot on!!

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  2. ShellyL

    09/23/2017

    Possibly my favorite post ever! You are a great mom! Hopefully, I am too but I also did many things “wrong,” according to some. My kids know that I love them with all my heart. They know I screw up but give me grace and I hope they give themselves grace when they inevitably screw up some too. I absolutely love your post!!! ❤️❤️❤️

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Awww… thanks Shelly!

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  3. Jennifer

    09/23/2017

    Oh my goodness! If this is all wrong, I don’t wanna be right!

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  4. Patty Ryan

    09/21/2017

    Well said, Andrea!

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  5. Erin

    09/21/2017

    Your kids are beautiful! I do my best to do whatever keeps my kids happy, healthy, and kind. Right or “wrong.”

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  6. lori

    09/21/2017

    Well said … these are wise words for any mom or dad to take. No book will give you the correct answer, like perfume, it doesn’t always work for everyone the same goes for “sage” advise from a more experienced parent; what works for one, might not work for another! We are individuals and we have to figure out what’s best for our families. Many of the things you said you’ve done with your young family, I did when my kiddos were those ages. As long as they felt my love, had a full belly, clean clothes and a roof over their head, they never suffered. They learned to do the things that made them happy, got good grades and went to college – on their terms! Now they are well rounded adults, have their own homes and I couldn’t be prouder of how they’ve turned out. Raising your child the way our ancestors have done for generations, results in a child (& ultimately a society) who understands their impact on the world around them, has a more compassionate heart and doesn’t believe that the world owes them a favor and a hand out. But only if we listen to our heart and do what’s best for our family.

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    Andrea Reply:

    ah — glad to hear your kiddos turned into “normal” adults! Thanks for sharing your perspective being a few years ahead of me!

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  7. Christine Kennedy

    09/20/2017

    You are obviously a wise and wonderful mom (and dad) and your children are blessed to have you! Keeping you and your family in prayer as you welcome your newest baby. Enjoy the whole process for it changes constantly and the days go by slowly but the years pass quickly.

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  8. Jules

    09/20/2017

    Yes to all of this! Like you, I don’t really care what people think about me, nor am I super emotional, but this struck a chord. Love your kids, treat them right and do your best. Thinking of all 5 Dekkers as you add another happy face to the family.

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  9. Zeinab

    09/20/2017

    Thank you for this post. I need it these days, very much.

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  10. Jenn

    09/20/2017

    Thank you, thank you, thank you…I’m a momma to a 16 month old wonderful little guy. I never dreamed I’d be flying solo on this particular adventure, but I am…and being his momma is the greatest joy & job of my life. When I worry if I am doing “enough” – providing “enough” – balancing “enough”…I’ll read this again…and be reminded that he has absolutely everything he needs and more love than he’ll know what to do with – and I don’t have to do/be everything…who I am will be more than “enough”. This was just what I needed to hear. Thank you.

    Jenn

    [Reply]

  11. Georgia

    09/20/2017

    I agree 100%. The way there is an over abundance of information about how to raise children today one cannot help but wonder how it was done 1000 years ago when there was not as much information. Must be a miracle that any child grew up to be a healthy, functioning adult. I think we should worry less and love a lot. The biggest point is to enjoy your children and spend time with them because you “want” to.

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    Tina Reply:

    “Worry less and love a lot”. Love this.

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  12. Julia

    09/20/2017

    Hi,
    I just want to say what you are saying here is so TRUE. Thank you, I wish I believed it before I had my 4th child. 🙂 Wisdom surely takes time.

    [Reply]

  13. Cherry

    09/20/2017

    Thanks for the encouragement, Andrea! I have eight children and still don’t like being referred to as an expert by friends. Each child is different and I am still learning as I go!

    I have been really enjoying your blog these last few months. I can’t wait till we see your new little one and learn her name! Hope it all goes well for you.

    [Reply]

  14. Alissa

    09/20/2017

    I am so glad you wrote this post! I may print it off and hang it on the wall in the baby’s room. So often I wonder if I am “ruining” my kid. I think there is a verse in the Bible that says, “love covers a multitude of sins” or something like. Maybe “Love covers a multitude of parenting mistakes” will be my new motto 🙂 Thanks for a great encouraging post!

    [Reply]

  15. MrsD

    09/20/2017

    Oh, pregnant here again (hello hormones) and this made me cry! I love this post and think it should go viral!
    And “goodies” lolololol! I love it!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yeah, Simon loves his ‘goodies’! Congrats on a soon-to-be-baby for you too!

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  16. Paulette

    09/20/2017

    Wow! what a refreshing take on all the shoulds, should nots, etc., etc., etc.. Bravo, Andrea!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yeah, I’m not a fan of extremes — but you probably know that already! moderation is key for me once again!

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  17. Rose

    09/20/2017

    Brava!!!! I’m out of the baby stage…sort of..I have a 17 year old special needs gorgeous boy whom is like a 6 month old. I’ve got two older sons and unfortunately, I KILL myself daily with guilt …always thinking I should have done things differently. I did the best I could at the time it was happening
    Like you said..I knew that they were happy, Loved, fed nicely, and never NOT taken care of! I’m sure it’s easier to say now that I’m older and more mature…but I’d like to throw it out there that we all should make the best out of each day…and love our children and give them 110% of everything we’ve got because the years do fly by…..Andrea…thanks for today’s post! Best wishes to you all and the new baby!

    [Reply]

  18. Gillian Delledonne

    09/20/2017

    I love this post.

    [Reply]

  19. Pamela

    09/20/2017

    I always love reading your balanced approach to parenting! Probably because you do things mostly the same way we did! 🙂 You’re a great mom and I can’t wait to see your new baby girl! ~~Pam

    [Reply]

  20. Mary

    09/20/2017

    Your blog is the only one I read daily….and then not until naptime with my little ones…but I *had* to drop by and see if the new baby arrived:) Your baby bump looks amazing…!! My son was born 6/30 after 4 daughters so that is very special….the post this morning is GREAT!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Mary — and I promise, I’ll have some baby news to share soon. After all, she can’t hide out inside of me forever!

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  21. Rhonda

    09/20/2017

    Andrea, I know you said you have some psychology background, and so this comment should make you feel better: there is a woman in our community who is a social worker who specializes in psychotherapy and parent coaching…I met with her a couple times because she was trying to get a “parent group” together at our local library. One thing I do remember her saying is that parents should listen to their instinct, and do what they “feel” is right – even if it might be different than the advice of others. Exactly the message you are giving today!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    ah! great minds think alike 🙂

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  22. Jen

    09/20/2017

    Good for you! I broke all the “rules” too-my kids all slept on their stomachs in their own beds (not even in our room!) and I DID let them cry it out and kept them on strict schedules, which goes against all the “demand feeding rules”. They watched too much television and ate too many fruit snacks and not enough fruit. They had more than their share of “cereal buffet” for dinner and they were spanked occasionally, and they never did more than one outside activity at a time–if that–and they didn’t get participation awards just for signing up and paying the fee! I laughed out loud the other day when I saw a home decor sign that read “Good moms have dirty dishes, dust bunnies, and happy kids.” It used to make me angry but now I can laugh. My kids are 25, 22, 20, and 17. They are four well-adjusted, responsible human beings, who love the Lord and contribute to society. They grew up in a clean house (oh the horror!) with loving parents who did their best to point them to God and make them decent, kind, HAPPY adults. So far, I think we’ve succeeded nicely–and so will you! Happy Wednesday!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes! I love the part about being a responsible human who contributes to society — honestly, there are so many adults who can not say these are true for them!

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  23. Jaime

    09/20/2017

    We also have a hyper sensitive kid and a more typical one. The only advice I give is to give yourself grace. Parenting is trial and error as what works for some doesn’t work for all kids and families. Our son has sensory issues and did not sleep well through the night until he was five. He would have a hard time turning his brain off as he would say, and he frequently had night terrors that, while he didn’t technically wake up from, woke us up and led to a restless night of sleep for him. You can imagine all of the helpful “advice” we got. Five years later and he is a sweet, intelligent kid who sleeps like a rock 10 hours a night. Do what is best for the situation and personalities involved and know that this too shall pass during the hard stages.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yay for sleeping 10 hours at night! The sleep deprivation is most definitely the main thing I’m DREADING when this new baby finally decides to arrive!

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  24. Shelia B

    09/20/2017

    THIS IS WONDERFUL!!!!
    My 3 children are all now teenagers (17 yr old twins & 13 yr old) . And while I still mess up every.single.day, I can look back and know that they’ve made it this far and they are fairly normal kids. As parents it’s very important to remember we only have our children for so long and we WILL mess up in so many ways. But we should always make sure that they know they are loved, appreciated, accepted, wanted and needed. As long as my kiddos know this, then all else doesn’t matter. Hang in there mamas of littles….hold those babies a little longer. I promise one day you’ll long for those moments.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Shelia!

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