Friday, May 29, 2009

The Wisdom of Moms and Dads

Since our NICU days, when we were thrown into a completely overwhelming, terrifying environment with no guidance or precedence, I've been a big believer in getting support from people who have had similar experiences. When Christopher was born at 24 weeks, we could find only ONE book on premature babies. It was called The Premature Baby Book, and it had been published several years before. It didn't even mention the possibility of a baby being born before 28 or 29 weeks. So here we were with a 1 pound, 6 oz baby, and we had nowhere to turn. He was the tiniest, sickest baby in the hospital until 1 month later, when two more 24-weekers appeared. You can be sure that we made connections with those families immediately.

Although we had amazing support from our family, friends, and work and church communities, no one on the outside could truly understand what we were going through. So the wisdom and support of other NICU graduate parents was absolutely critical for us. They were the ones who gave us the hope that we would actually leave the NICU with a baby in our arms. Similarly, when I experienced multiple miscarriages, the only reassurance I could find was to talk to other women who had experienced the same thing.

Ever since those experiences, whenever I've known anyone else who is going through a tough time in his or her life, I have encouraged them to seek out the support of others who know what they are going through. A community of shared experience helps us get through the tough times in our lives.

Every parent faces tough choices each day of our lives. Because every child is so different, no parenting book or one single advisor can help us figure out how to make the best choices for our kids. Mike and I have a whole shelf of parenting books in our study! But sometimes it's much faster just to do a search on the internet than to look through a stack of books.

Here's a site that could help in dealing with some of those tough decisions: Mamapedia.com. (As a woman with a stay-at-home dad for a husband, I have to point out that the site name is not very inclusive.) It's a great resource for parenting questions. People can post questions about parenting (or many other issues), and the Mamapedia community will post their responses and suggestions. I searched the site on a number of topics, and each question came up with a hit. As is typical with web sites, some of the opinions are strident and should be taken with a grain of salt.

Next time I'm trying to figure out the best way to tackle one of my own parenting challenges, I will go to this site first to see if I can find any good suggestions. After all, it takes a village to raise a child!

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