I’m a research fiend and I’m all for evidence being taken into consideration when making decisions.
To a degree.
I must admit, the title to this post is a little provocative but I’ve had some thoughts lately based on some responses about parenting and breastfeeding queries on online forums that I am on.
Of course it’s in the minority where sometimes the loudest voices are found. Zealous about informing you, as if you haven’t read it all yourself.
You get this in every walk of life but in regards to parenting the theme I find most common is ‘evidence says this’.
The thing about evidence in this topic is that the complexity of human physiology and psychology is not an exact science.
So although some evidence based results would recommend following a certain approach, it is not the be all and end all. It is not the only way. It is OK to try something else if your baby does not respond to an evidence based approach. (It goes without saying that I am obviously excluding abuse here but I’ll say it anyway.)
I think if we get all wrapped up in expert opinion we lose our intuition and in my opinion, intuition, or instinct if you prefer, is incredibly important in parenting.
Don’t get me wrong, research is important too. To an extent it’s good to have a few parenting experts out there, although maybe the industry needs to be regulated. Our civilisation has come a long way with expert opinion (think corporal punishment as one example).
One thing I find hardest is to watch parents ask questions about a decision they have come to and have people throw links at them telling them about how wrong their decision is.
It is all from a good intention, of course but not always appropriate or empathic.
Do you know how hard it is to put yourself out there as a parent? To come out and say that despite evidence you are doing something differently?
In my limited experience, it seems most other folks are doing something similar- just trying to do a good job of it. Some of the best parents I know never even read one book.
It is the extreme voices that seem to quote ‘evidence’ as scripture and although they are actually quite rare, I find that online their tone of voice can be quite severe when getting a point across. This can be very isolating to a parent who is looking for help.
I think a more balanced approach would be helpful and if a person asks a question, try answer the question. If you can’t answer the question or disagree with the topic then don’t respond unless the person is asking for opinions.
Respect the intelligence of other parents. Most likely they know what the evidence says but are trying something different because evidence doesn’t work for them.
Parents already hassle themselves enough, they don’t need anybody else to do it for them. They need support.
Let’s respect the diversity of parenting.