"Can you imagine doing that with our baby?" "How could they not realize how unsafe that was?" "It's an act of nature we are even alive!"
Sound familiar? Every generation of new parents is certain they know best. That they've evolved, learned so much, improved on the past and harnessed the future to raise the most unique, brilliant, and miraculous children ever. Just like the last bunch of parents. And just like the next bunch. It's how humans are wired. What had no meaning before we arrived is suddenly incredibly important and we are determined to perfect everything we do.
I'm still not sure how it's possible that every single day new parents leave the hospital holding someone's life, literally, in their hands. For most of us, we've had absolutely no in depth training (babysitting when you were 13 totally does not count!), little on the job experience, and no references that prove they are worthy to raise a child. Seriously! The most important job you'll ever have and for parents who give birth to their children, there is no interview, no background check, no home study, nothing that says you pass the test. I don't understand why the Mom next to me at the playground who adopted her child had to prove herself in a way I never had to. The responsibility is no different, the love no less, and the job just as monumental.
As we fumble our way through, for most new Moms its our own mothers that we turn to. "Mom, what if he won't stop crying?" "Mom, is it okay if I want to hold her all day?" "Mom, will I ever sleep without worrying again?" "Mom, will I get used to this?" And since the beginning of time, mother's gently answer "Yes sweet child of mine, you will be fine."
I don't talk with my Mom often about the basics of my children's medical health. But I ask her questions all the time about developmental, emotional, and crisis health issues. "Will my teenagers ever stop rolling their eyes?" "How can I help them understand it will all be okay?" "Do you think it sounds like croup?" The basics of raising healthy children haven't changed in the years between my mother and me. In fact I'd offer that today, our society of excess, technology, and competitiveness threatens the health of our children in countless ways we'll learn to regret.
Here is how my parents generation got it right. It's never more complicated than eating right, resting well, and playing hard. Creative play, expression through music and art, exploring the world around us through outdoor adventures and unstructured time to think independently, imagining all that we can by reading with abandon.
We came home from school, did our homework, and played outside until dinner instead of play Wii bowling and count our active minutes to make sure it was enough. We got up on a Saturday, hopped on our bikes, and rode the neighborhood with friends for hours instead of be dragged from one organized activity to the next getting a trophy simply for showing up. We spent summer nights catching lightening bugs and summer days at the pool swimming until our tanned bodies couldn't move anymore instead of weeks of camps to keep us "busy." We rang our friends' doorbells to ask them to play instead of calling ahead to schedule a play date next week. We were encouraged to read for down time instead of watch a TV show to stay occupied while our parents answered just a few more emails before the end of the night.
I'm pretty sure that when it comes to raising naturally healthy, attentive, inquisitive, generally respectful and socially adjusted children, our parents generation definitely got it right. The question is, will we?
About my Mom ~ She taught elementary school and Yoga, has 4 children, meditates, has a masters degree in Social Work, specialized in marriage and family practice, and currently counsels military families going through transition. She's like Yoda. I don't always agree with her, but she's grounded and wise. And I am blessed.
Children's health is at the top of every mother's mind. What's your favorite tip for raising a healthy baby? By replying, you will be entered to win an exclusive Million Moms Challenge Gift Pack, which includes an iPad2, a custom-made Million Moms Challenge pendant and a $50 donation in your name to Global Giving.
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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Million Moms Challenge. The opinions and text are all mine. Contest runs November 14 to December 18, 2011. A random winner will be announced by December 20, 2011.