Since starting my job as the First 1,000 Days correspondent, I began getting emails and messages from friends asking me for parenting advice. Which children’s books do I suggest? How soon could someone stop breastfeeding? Any tips for flying with a small child?
To be quite honest, I have very few answers to give. Since getting pregnant and then becoming a mother, my own list of doubts has grown exponentially. And though I have regular access to both academics studying different aspects of childhood and people working directly with children, the answers I get are often confusing.
While I was pregnant, I kept a list of questions on my phone so I could have them handy whenever I spoke to a friend who had had babies or whenever I saw a doctor or midwife for check-ups. There were practical questions and philosophical ones. How will I know when my waters break? What do I need to have on me when I go to the hospital? How much pain is too much pain?
The list would get shorter when I had the opportunity to ask my questions – only to fill up again a few days later.
Since my son Lorenzo was born a year ago, I often just don’t have time to jot down questions. But the doubts are always there in the back of my mind.
Doubts are very common in life, especially when you take on the responsibility of raising another human being. And they seem even more ominous if you think about how important the first 1,000 days are.
Recently, Jack Shonkoff, director of the Center on the Developing Child, said something in The Brain Architects podcast that took a weight off my mind: “There are no perfect brains. The best parents in the world do a dozen things wrong every day. There’s a lot of science about brain development, but raising healthy, competent children is much more a bumbling art than it is a precise science.”
The good news is that our brains are incredibly plastic, so they can adapt and get back on track, even if things go wrong. So no matter how many mistakes you make as a parent, you are not ruining your children forever.
But talking about doubts and worries as a parent is a healthy way to clear your head and realise that other people have the same questions.
That’s why on Friday 14 February, I’ll be hosting a conversation with Paola de los Santos, an author and social psychologist who’s an expert in breastfeeding and parenting issues. I’ll be joined by Ariana Budasoff, a journalist from Argentine member-funded news platform Red/ACCIÓN.
And we want to do this as collaboratively as possible.
If you’re a member of The Correspondent and are in Buenos Aires, you’re more than welcome to come ask your questions directly. Please leave a message here or reach out to me, so that we know that you’ll be attending. (The event will be in Spanish.)
If you’re not in Buenos Aires, please leave your questions in the contributions section below, and I’ll let you know what de los Santos has to say.