The Well-Meaning Parenthood Lie


I was reflecting the other day about my son’s nap schedule… I know, I’m really interesting. And it occurred to me that it wasn’t until very recently (my son is almost 2), that I really started to feel like I knew intuitively what his needs might be and how to meet them. This isn’t to say that I’m not wrong at times, I definitely am, but thinking back to the months of anxiety and uncertainty I experienced after he was born, I feel like I’ve come a long way.


I have many mom friends and mom clients who struggle with the anxiety of not understanding their baby’s cues and why they may not intuitively know how to meet them. Then I thought about where that anxiety comes from and realized that so many well-meaning people are perpetuating this lie that when a baby is born, the mother instinctively knows how to take care of him or her. I mean, I get it, the baby has been inside of us for 10 months, shouldn’t we know him or her by the time he or she is born? Ummmmm… no. We have this tiny creature who has no words to communicate, is adjusting to the harsh reality of life outside the womb, we’re exhausted and overwhelmed, and a lot of us don’t have immediate childcare support and assistance to help us through.


In general, it takes people about two years to really get to know someone well… and that’s if both people speak the same language and are honest about who they are as well as their needs and wants. An infant speaks an entirely different language (crying), has no idea who he or she is, and is often confused about his or her own wants and needs. How on earth are moms (and dads) expected to decipher that?! So it’s only as my own son approaches his second birthday that I realized I actually understand more about him and how to meet his needs.


So, what I’m really trying to say is that we need to cut ourselves a break. We need time to get to know our babies. We might love them (or not-sometimes it takes time) out of the gate, but that definitely doesn’t mean we understand them. Let’s help moms and dads out there debunk this myth that just because you created a human, you automatically know how to care for one.

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Jennifer Byrnes, LPC

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