Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Dear Daniel, (advice about instincts)

On this day of travel, I find it appropriate that I've been thinking about instincts a lot lately. My sweet boy, following your instincts might just be the most important lesson you'll ever learn (over and over) in your life.

There's something in our society (or perhaps it is human nature?) that teaches us to doubt ourselves when we have a strong feeling about something. But I tell you: do not doubt! If you're talking to someone and something about them makes you have a bad feeling, you can walk away—you don't have to be polite. Trust your intuition.

I remember when I flew on planes by myself when I was a child, my mom telling me that if I ever got lost, to go to someone who "looked nice" (or someone I recognized from the plane I was on, like a flight attendant) to ask for help. I appreciate that she never said a blanket statement like, "go to someone in a uniform," because sometimes bad people dress up like police officers to get trust from children. She always emphasized that I go to someone who felt safe to me, effectively suggesting that I trust my instincts about them.

I'm finding, as a parent, my instincts are all I really have. I can read books and take in endless advice, but at the end of the day I have to be comfortable with my parenting decisions, so I follow my instincts. If I do what feels natural in a situation, instead of trying to follow someone else's prescribed parenting rules, I have fewer regrets. This was true when your pediatrician thought I was breastfeeding you wrong, and it's been true about discovering the cause of your excessive crying, and helping you through it. (It's not colic, you don't have reflux, I'm not stressing you out, and it's not just your personality—you have an actual, diagnosed wiring problem in your brain, and we're working on helping you to re-wire yourself!)

Sometimes, following your instincts is hard to do, because you have to go against what someone is telling you to do. Sometimes I might even be that person. But please let this over-shadow whatever crappy and unhelpful advice I may be giving you in that moment: I don't know you better than you know yourself.

My child, in your life, it will ultimately be beneficial to you to follow your instincts consistently, even if it doesn't always feel good in the moment.

Trust yourself, because you know yourself best.



  1. Absolutely beautiful! Wonderful advice!

  2. Thank you so much! I think I wrote this to remind myself as much as I did for Daniel.

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