If you’ve been caught with the doubt that what you are doing is or isn’t ok and you are ready to explore what helps you make the right decisions then this is for you.
We like to think we make our decisions based on rational thought, yet psychologists have gathered significant evidence that people are very much more irrational than we think.
Decisions are based on emotion, habit, beliefs and powerful social expectations, cultural norms and information. All these influence what parents do. So when parents ask me ‘Is it ok…?’ the answer is not as straight forward as one might imagine.
In a recent chat with a few new mothers, one brought some information to the others about how two baby products were identical, even being made by the same organisation in the same factory, but with different branding. One mother decided to swap brands as a result of this information, yet there was another who decided to stick with the more expensive brand, even when faced with direct evidence that it was identical to the cheaper version. Her trust and feelings for a brand did not change with the information.
Information is power, but just knowing more is not the only player when it comes to what we do as parents and what happens to our children. Biology and circumstances are also important players, as well as support for us to carry out our decisions.
So our decisions are influenced by information, influences and instinct and at different times, the top of the triangle ( the strongest factor for us to make a decision) will vary.
Being conscious of the factors that influence our decisions will help you analyze if that decision is ok or not. Of course you don’t need to refer back to this triangle every time you make a decision (and there are so many of them everyday), but you may find it helpful if you are not sure.
Feeling confident in what and how we care for our children will also make it easier to navigate through all the conflicting information and opinions around. So next time you hear an opinion, or some advice ask yourself: Is this reliable information? Is this cultural or societal influence? What is my gut instinct saying? How does it work for you, your family and your child in your context?
Then embrace this decision and go for it confidently! And have the knowledge that if the information or your circumstances change, you can change and adapt how you parent.
Now, I work on the belief that the majority of parents want to do the best for their children, sometimes in difficult circumstances, and with the information and support available to them. I want to support parents to explore ways which they feel are right for themselves and their children.
I believe that if parents make a decision contrary to what is suggested by the evidence, then they have taken into account other factors that are more important to them than the evidence from research or their ‘choice’ has been taken away from them somehow. Yet, I am part of ‘‘the context’ and an agent of the ‘support and information available to them’ so I feel some responsibility for providing accurate, timely and helpful information. So if you work with me and decide to do something that is not backed by current evidence to the best of my knowledge, I will send you information and links to have a look at.
But ultimately, you are your own judge of what is important and relevant for you, your family and your child.
And you don’t have to justify your decisions, especially for people who are not involved in caring for your children.
So next time you are faced with the question: Is it ok to…? Use the decisions triangle to help you organize your thoughts and be confident that you are doing what is best for your family and your children.
If you want to go deeper into this subject I recommend the book ‘Informed is best: how to spot fake news about pregnancy, birth and baby.’ by Amy Brown