Your child’s experience of the world will be shaped by you
and drawn from a range of influences that will all have their
roots in your past. She will naturally look to you for guidance
on what is “right and wrong”—and will push the boundaries
of acceptable behavior during the learning process.
Being your own person
To be a parent is to tread a fine line between wanting to “do what’s best”
based on the knowledge and understanding of others; and wanting to do
“what feels right” based on personal instinct and the bond with your child.
A first-time parent is going to feel more uncertain than one who has
several children, but when trouble hits it can be easy to feel overwhelmed
by the conflicting and well-meaning advice that abounds.
Avoiding comparisons and choosing advice
“Lisa and I have been best friends since school, and our kids are about the
same age, but she has the support of both sets of parents and her husband,
whereas I am pretty much on my own when my husband is stationed
overseas. I get so tired of hearing about their latest vacation and how
brilliant her children are. It just makes me worry about mine even more.”
Families are infinitely varied in shape, size, and gender mix, but one thing
seems to be universal—when there is a toddler on the loose, and when
there is a problem, everyone has an opinion and a story that they would like
to share. The trouble is that other people’s toddlers are not yours—and no
two children are exactly the same. It can be very tempting if you are feeling
unconfident to compare your child’s progress with that of another child of
the same age. As this book will stress again and again, there are guidelines
and milestones but no fixed rules when it comes to child development.
Unless there are special needs (see page 292) most children will have
reached a similar stage of development by the time they start school.
Swapping stories and tactics with other parents is often invaluable,
but unwanted advice can be hard to take. If by nature you tend to be
unsure of yourself then other people’s views can make you feel put upon,
Y O U A N D Y O U R C H I L D
a learning curve
While advice is useful,
especially if you’re a
first-time parent, try
to assess your child’s
needs yourself and be
confident in the
decisions you make.