What Should I Do?
We often say, 'Parenthood begins as soon as you decide to grow your family.' It doesn't always feel "real" until a few weeks/months into caring for your child, but it is! There are a billion decisions to make at every turning point. And with every decision you have to make, there are often several other people in your circle who weigh in- solicited or not- and add their two cents. It can feel difficult to decipher whose opinion "won" or what your own feelings were on the topic when other's voices take over. Sometimes it may feel like a relief to let others make decisions- though more often than not it fuels confusion, indecisiveness, and stress.
A critical piece of Parenthood is making decisions for your family, that benefit and protect your family, despite how they look or feel to others. My therapist calls this, "One Voice." Your voice. Not your friends, mother (in-law), sister, even pediatrician or lactation consultant. (We're in no way discrediting professional opinions...simply leaving room to not take their advice as gospel if it doesn't feel safe or right for your family.)
One Voice, your voice, is the voice to listen to when you have to make a decision for your child(ren) or family. For many people, its helpful to hear the opinions of those around- weigh them out, try them on for size, and then come to a conclusion on their own. And for others, it just adds layers of complications, leading to decision-making based on protecting other's feelings and ego over theirs or their child(ren's) well-being. There's certainly room for both! We can invite our loved ones in to offer supportive or sage wisdom, and we can still listen to, and use our One Voice, without fear that we're offending or hurting someone else's feelings by not going with their opinion.
We see this play out in every aspect of Conception, Pregnancy, Childbirth, Postpartum, and Parenthood. Well-meaning friends and family doling out should's about Epidurals vs. Un-Medicated Birth, Body Milk vs Formula, Stroller vs Babywearing, Picking up a Baby vs Cry It Out, Cloth Diapers vs Disposable, Private School vs Public School, Screens vs No Screens, on and on and on. Your voice and thoughts can easily feel lost amongst the advice (and sometimes judgment) being thrown at you constantly! In those moments we urge you to find ways to silence it all. To step back and check in with the One Voice that matters most. Your Voice. Your feelings. Your intuition. Your wants. Your needs.
Each time we make space for our One Voice, we strengthen that muscle. We train our brain to be more discerning- to listen carefully- to trust our Self. It doesn't necessarily make it any easier to make a decision, but it is an incredibly powerful exercise to see yourself as The Parent and to trust your own decisions. And, the cherry on top is that when you make decisions based on what Your family needs, you create a world that feels good, supportive, and functional for your crew.
Now if you're reading this and thinking "this sounds awfully similar to 'Setting Boundaries', you're right! The result of listening to your One Voice will be the natural creation of boundaries. By listening to your One Voice, your family is protected from the judgement, guilt, and shame reflecting off of others around you. With that, listening to your One Voice also opens you up to be the target for all of those things from others around you. However after much practice, you will (hopefully) find confidence, peace, and pride in the role, shrugging off the judgement from those around you. (An excellent topic for your next therapy sesh!)
Is there a situation or question you've been weighing out or maybe "obsessing" about recently? (We don't love that term when referring to this however often that's the word we use when referring to our own process so we feel its highly relatable... it does pack a bunch of judgment though... what if we said 'putting a lot of thought and energy into' instead?) What happens if you quiet down everyone else's thoughts and opinions and check in with your One Voice? What does that voice say? Does it have the courage to step into its Parenthood and do what it needs to do to benefit and protect its family? Can it make a decision for its children and say "STFU" to the chorus of outsider opinions? If the answer is "not yet", be gentle with yourself- this is a process and patience is key. Its all about practice. :)
If you're looking for a community that will encourage you to listen to your One Voice, consider joining our free, Virtual Pregnancy and New Parent Support Groups! Register to join in the Calendar tab!