You have been duped into thinking that when it comes to your own child, other people with lots of titles and initials before and after their names, know better than you about what is best.
You have also probably been convinced that because parents are so passionately involved with their offspring, that they are the least capable of making rational decisions regarding that mystical art called child rearing.
However, the best, most competent expert is the person who is reading this article right now. Factually, it is YOU. And it is precisely your irrational love and passionate interest and loyalty that places you and only you at the top of the list.
Aren’t you the one who instinctively “feels” when your son or daughter is starting to come down with an illness? Aren’t you the one who really knows what is feared and what is loved? Isn’t it you who understands at a visceral level when your baby is hungry or tired and the exact actions to take to calm things down?
The only circumstances in which this would not be true is if you have unwittingly bought into the line that it is that doctor or child psychiatrist with lots of published books (but no children of his own) that knows more than Mom or Dad.
Just to put it in perspective, when I was living and working at a boarding school in the Sierra mountains of California, the only kids we would not accept into our program pretty much right off the bat were the children of psychiatrists. Never have I witnessed a more messed up demographic than these poor kids who were over-analyzed, over-evaluated and constantly nagged and behaviorally corrected but never just accepted and loved for themselves.
Just as there is an exact technology to making a cup of coffee or driving a car, there is a method to becoming an effective parent.
Step one is observing carefully and thoughtfully the cause and effect interplays that are constantly going on with the family. In this manner you can create the results you want. For instance, if the effect you want is your child getting plenty of sleep by going to bed early enough, you can notice the things that cause this to happen as well as the things that cause it not to happen. Then it is just a matter of discipline for you and the rest of the family to do the things that make the desired result occur. It is a step-by-step process but you will find that you will gain ground every day and gently move your family towards an ideal scene.
To set your mind at ease I would also like to point out that human beings, especially the young ones, are extremely resilient. SO LONG AS YOU LOVE YOUR CHILD AND KEEP HIM OR HER SAFE FROM HARM, AND SO LONG AS YOUR CHILD KNOWS HE IS LOVED, REALLY LOVED, YOU CANNOT IRREPARABLY DAMAGE HIM.
I have lived and worked with children in the most appalling circumstances from the murder capital of the US in South Central LA to post-war hell-holes of Asia and have seen for myself that the only difference between a psychotic child and a sane one was an internal knowledge of being loved.
Indeed, I experienced the highest instance of irrationally deranged behavior in children when I worked at an exclusive school for children of celebrities. These kids had everything; chauffeurs, nannies, amusement parks in their back yards, on and on. The one thing they did not have was parents in the true sense of the word.
Ironically, the best advice I ever received was the following: “don’t take any advice.”
I would have to add that for this to be workable, realize that with observation and action, you are your own best advisor. And just like any other art form, it takes lots of work and care but the rewards are priceless.