I read every single parenting book I could possibly read to try to prepare myself for motherhood. My first couple of months I tried to do what the books told me to do, but I was miserable and Harlan wasn't happy either. It was then that I realized there is really nothing that can truly prepare you for the reality.
Fast forward two years when my other daughter, Avery, was born and I threw all of my parenting logic from the books away and decided to parent purely based on my motherly instincts. I was exponentially happier and so was Avery. It turns out that all of the fears I had with Harlan that I was going to spoil her too much were completely illogical.
I'm not alone in my lack of understanding on what to expect with a new baby. But the unpreparedness that parents have could take a toll on their child. A study out of the University of Rochester found that one-third of parents are unaware of what to expect when their baby is born and don't know how to help them grow, learn, and get along with others.
Not knowing what to do is hurting our child's chances for a successful life. A Princeton University study shows that 40 percent of infants in the United States "live in fear or distrust of their parents, and that will translate into aggressiveness, defiance, and hyperactivity as they grow into adults."
Parenting is something that we have to learn as we go. Everyday we deal with the unexpected, and there are no rules for us to follow. It's incredibly alarming to me that of that 40 percent, 25 percent of those babies don't bond with their parents because we, as their parents, aren't responding to their needs. Even worse, 15 percent will avoid their parents all together because they find them so distressing.
Why do so many children feel this way? The study says that there are a number of factors that could contribute to the problem. Poverty is one factor, but most of the time that is something that is beyond our control. Ignorance and stress with being so busy and overwhelmed with our own lives that we can't handle the life of a child, is another.
Although the statistics from the research are hard to stomach as a parent, rest assured that there are some fairly simple things that we can do to make sure that our children never become a statistic. The answer? According to research, simply touching our infant can give them a profound sense of security.
You want to hold your baby for hours on end? Do it. You're not spoiling him, you're just giving him the love that he needs.
These studies prove that those first few months of your child's life, when life can be overwhelming and it can be a major adjustment for everyone, are the most critical. It's important that both parents take the time that they need to really focus on being a parent and showing that immense love to your child. Hold them, cuddle them, rock them to sleep, do whatever you can that makes life happy for you and baby. It's this love that will help shape your child's life forever.
Photo source: Lauren Jimeson
-By Lauren Jimeson