How Do I Decide???

27 Mar 2013

Why is it that as a parent, it seems like every choice you make is some life-altering, earth-shattering decision that could permanently harm your child’s development?  I suppose it’s because parenting is the single most important job on this planet – you are personally responsible for another individual.  This tiny little life is here because of you, and it can only continue to exist if you feed it, care for it, and nurture it.  And maybe you’ve had bad luck with the other things that were entrusted to your care.  Perhaps your track record is such that you’ve killed every plant that has entered your house. While the risk is much higher, human beings are luckily not as fragile.  Still, the decision-making process can be tedious.

Now with my second baby, the decision-making process is not *quite* as intense as it was with the first (usually), not because the stakes are any lower, but only because I have a little bit of experience under my belt.  With that first baby, the short amount of time it took me to decide to offer her a pacifier seemed like a gut-wrenching eternity.

I remember scouring online for data, talking to friends and family, and weeding through advice…

Never give your baby a “dummy” to soothe itself  -- she should be relying on you! vs. Don’t you want someone else to be able to soothe her if you are unavailable? 

Pacifiers will interfere with breastfeeding and cause nipple confusion! vs. It’s way better than the thumb!  At least you can take a pacifier away!

And it doesn’t stop there…  Should I cloth diaper or use disposables?  Should I co-sleep or cry-it-out?  Should I offer formula or breastfeed?  Should I vaccinate on schedule or delay?  Should I circumcise? Should I go organic?  Should I buy electronic toys?  Should I give time outs?  Everyone grapples with some of these same questions in a quest to be the best mom she can be.  It can be overwhelming to sort through all the information and research on every topic and make an informed decision that is right for your family.    

The most important thing, though, is to be INFORMED

Does the decision you’re making require knowledge in order to obtain the best possible outcome, or is this decision primarily a matter of personal preference? 

Is this something I know a lot about or something I need to research? 

What is my intuition telling me? 

Whether you are purchasing an item, making a parenting decision, and undergoing a medical procedure, you need to gather the right information in order to make the decision that is right for you.  This is your decision to make.  No one else can make it for you.

Helping families access accurate and evidence-based information is one of our primary goals at Willow Tree Family Center.  Currently, you are inundated with websites, blogs, message boards, books, articles, research, doctors, other family members, friends, and more persuading you with their version of whatever research or advice they feel is “right”. We are here to ease the burden that you may feel as a parent by making reliable information readily available to you and helping you decide for yourself what your “right” path may be.  Our values are stated on our website:

We value diversity in lifestyle choices.  There is no one right answer that will fit every woman, every family, and every situation.  We acknowledge the value in traditional and alternative health care, as well as traditional and natural family living methods.  We encourage preventative action, holistic approaches, and environmentally-friendly practices.  We offer resources and support to families as they make choices that involve health promotion, nutrition, parenting, and child care.

For the next series of blog posts, we are going to explore the topic of reliable research and informed consent. People use a variety of techniques when they attempt to persuade you of the benefits of a certain parenting philosophy, policy, product, or procedure.  Join us as we look as some of the following topics:

What does it mean to check sources and look for bias?

What are characteristics of reliable research?

What are logical fallacies in arguments?

What are common persuasive techniques?

What are euphemisms, dysphemisms, and loaded language?

What do statistics really mean?

How does probability work?  What does it really mean if something is __% likely?

How does research get published?

What does it mean if something is evidence-based or research-based?

Why get a second opinion?

What is informed consent regarding medical procedures?

What are some questions to ask my doctor or midwife before choosing a care provider?