Photo: Courtesy of Simon and Schuster
As the author of six books on intuition, I'm an advocate for using your intuition to make decisions about your child. I have found that the model child in most childrearing books simply doesn't exist. There is no general child X. Although a few rules hold true, such as the importance of consistency, community, communication and mutual respect, every system is flawed for your unique mix of parent/child/world, except for one that takes all your situation's unique variables into account. Intuitive childrearing is more adaptive for your child's development than any book or social more. This said, there is always wisdom to be gained from other people's experiences of "my child only eats white food" or "my tween wants to wear too little." However, the best intuitive for your child is not your child, but the people who work to make her life work: parents, teachers and other authority figures. Taking a step back and seeing your child through someone else's eyes will often help you make better decisions.
As much as I have wanted to go to bat for my son's misunderstood proclivities, more times than not, they were not things that would make him happier and more successful in the world. They were only things that were more comfortable for me not to deal with right now. Just like you, I am not immune to being offended by someone sharing their opinion of my son's failings; however, there is often great wisdom in the observation of someone who cares enough to comment.
You love your child, but her future is in other people liking her too. This is dependent, to a large degree, on her ability to interface in a variety of situations with confidence, talent, charm and skill. Even nursery school is a dog-eat-dog world. Let's just say the things I've heard in "circle sharing" on the rug, some adults might not be able to endure. If you think your loving judgment and firmness will crush her sense of self, just drop by a high school or look at a teenager's Facebook page. There is nothing you can do from love that won't be done to her out of raw competition and socialization in her future!
The key to intuitive childrearing is to respond to your individual child's ever-changing future and make the tough decisions now to create the best tomorrow. All children seem to have a diagnosis these days. Some of that is good. Issues are caught early and children often get more support in functioning than they did a generation or two ago when they just had to muscle it out until they got the hang of it. Your child may be fine with a touch of obsession, a little more moodiness, a dash of fearfulness if, and only if, you do not let her vulnerability mislead your judgment. Your child does not have the answer. You do.
Laura Day is the New York Times best-selling author of Practical Intuition and How to Rule the World from Your Couch.The Independent called her "The Psychic of Wall Street." Laura has been featured on The Oprah Show, Good Morning America and ABC News, as well as in Newsweek,The Wall Street Journal and other national and international media. She is currently working on her new book, No Biting, to be released in 2012.
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