There are dozens of birthing classes an expecting mom may take to help prepare her for the “birthing process.” A process that takes somewhere between one and thirty-six hours (give or take). There are zero classes that cover what to do in the 18 years following the result of the birthing process.
Why is there not a class for this? Literally, classes are required for almost all skills and responsibilities. Want to drive a car – you have to take a class. Want to own a gun – you have to take a class. Want to serve coffee at Starbucks – you have to get hired and then take a class. These classes tell you exactly how to make decisions based on circumstances at hand and achieve a successful outcome.
But when it comes to being responsible for the survival of a helpless infant and the gazillion decisions it takes to transform that infant into a decent and productive member of society … no class, no instruction, you’re on your own…. good luck!
Of course there are hundreds of books and millions of websites that provide some guidance but everything is so controversial and judge-y. The information overload and high horses of “moms who know best” are overwhelming!
Instead of hitting up the internet every time I have to make a parenting decision (which, despite my attempts in the first few weeks, is not sustainable long-term and will in fact leaving you certain you are doing it wrong), I have developed an algorithm for making the majority of my parenting decisions.
My algorithm is based on 2 things:
- WWJD – What Would Jen Do. Jen is my older sister – she had her first son, 9 months and 1 day before I had my first daughter. She is very wise. For the past 28 years I have been using the WWJD method for general life decisions with good success. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – so WWJD for parenting decisions too! I’m not going to lie… I planned it this way – there was no way in hell I was having a kid before Jen did. Here’s an important key to this step: I don’t always do exactly WJWD (What Jen Would Do). I think of it more as a template. I use her decisions as a general framework and make customizations that make sense for me. To make this algorithm universal or usable for you, you are going to need to find yourself a Jen. This person doesn’t have to be related but does have to have similar morals and viewpoints.. it also helps if they’ve had a kid recently. Find someone who you look at and think ‘hey they’re doing something right.’ Then use their decisions as a template.
- The Scale. I would classify my parenting style as laid-back – this style is closely associated with some questionable parenting moves. I try to balance the questionable moves with more responsible parenting decisions – I do this by keeping a mental scale of questionable vs responsible parenting moves. Using the WWJD method first (aka following Jen’s template) automatically puts me in a position to make decisions that are more responsible which gives me a little leeway to make some questionable moves while still staying on track to achieve the goal of developing a decent human being. Below is an actual representation of how my scale looks… ideally, I want the scale leaning towards the responsible side but I will settle for balance.
When everything is put together the full algorithm looks something like this: I start with WWJD, make personal customizations based on my unique parenting style and control for how the resulting decision impacts my responsible parenting scale. It sounds complicated but it is way less time consuming than searching the endless walls of the internet for statistically biased information on unproven methods.
What’s your process for making parenting decisions? (I’m almost scared to ask that because I’m pretty confident in my algorithm as it is now and also, I know how the comments section can get when discussing parenting techniques – play nice please!)
**Edit: It should be noted Blake (my husband) makes his fair share of parenting decisions. While we have the same parenting philosophy and are in constant communication about how to best raise our daughter, when asked how he makes parenting decisions he responded “I base my decisions on what’s best for Carter.” He is clearly less neurotic than I am.
I love Blake’s reply…and the WWJD. I think my main parenting initiatives will be 1) don’t let the kid fall off the deck and 2) Don’t let Otis eat kid.
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