ABC’s of Parenting: “I” is for instinct

It’s baaaa-aaaack! For better or for worse, the ABC’s of parenting continues…

I for Instinct

imageI don’t recall ever reading a parenting book in preparation for our babies or after they were born. Honestly, I just felt like I was born to be a mom and I was good to go. That’s not to say I didn’t ever question myself or that I did everything right. In fact, there did come a day when one child’s behavioral challenges led us to read a very helpful book and attend a lecture by its author. But overall I knew I had good instincts, and following my gut seemed to work.

The reliance on instinct is an interesting point about parenting. I once read a post that encouraged moms to use their instincts. That’s usually good advice. There are so many holier-than-thou parenting pundits out there that if we listen to all of them we’ll be pulled in every possible direction and never know what to do. I honestly think that for many, many parents, going on instinct is the best answer.


I’ve spent pretty much all of my adult life working with parents and kids in one capacity or another. I’ve been a “teaching parent” in a level 4 boy’s group home (the last stop before juvenile hall). I’ve been a teacher, a classroom volunteer, a director of children’s ministry, president of a school booster club. So I’ve seen the widely varying range of parenting styles and levels of parenting competence.

And the unfortunate fact is that there are some parents who absolutely should NOT go on instinct.

Sometimes instinct leads to stifling helicopter parenting.

Sometimes following instinct results in neglect, ignorance, and/or seriously bad decision making by any reasonable person’s standards.

So, in the end, I don’t have a good answer to the use of instinct in parenting. I just know it worked for me. Honestly, I’d be very interested in hearing thoughts from other parents on this subject.  Got a thought? Please share!


6 thoughts on “ABC’s of Parenting: “I” is for instinct

  1. Ahh, instinct! When I had my first child, I hadn’t read any parenting books. I was naïve, but so full of love for her! I wanted the very best for her and I really think I did most things right purely from instinct (Also, *I* had a loving mother so that helped some too!) It wasn’t until she was maybe 2 years old that I started meeting other mothers of toddlers and started talking about parenting them, that I started to FOCUS on it, instead of just DOING it, and it became somewhat stressful. I read books and compared notes with mommies…all which made me feel like I was doing things “wrong” because there were so many conflicting views/ways of doing things. I finally wised up by the time she was six and got out of mommy groups (play groups) altogether; just meeting up with a few friends who had a positive influence on me and made me feel happy about parenting.
    The same has been true of homeschooling – I have ultimately had to stop having curriculum/scheduling conversations because they lead to nothing but comparison…and we all know that comparison is the thief of JOY! 😉
    Sorry to write a novel. 😛


  2. Glad I found your blog. Love this point! Instinct is there for a reason. It served me well a couple weeks ago when we were in the van and my son said his stomach hurt–he says this all the time and usually is fine, but this time instinct told me to toss him our little emergency bucket. And lo, he needed it about 10 second later. Thank you, instinct! 🙂
    Looking forward to reading more of your ABCs. 🙂


  3. Of course I have a thought. I used to stress over whether or not I was doing something right or wrong. Every time I stepped back and let my instinct take over, I saved myself a lot of anxiety. There are things a parent needs to rely on gut feeling, and according to their family dynamics, learn which battles to fight.


    • I agree. I was talking to my daughter last week about whether she should go to a late choir rehearsal for a big concert that was coming up. She was overstressed and still exhausted from her surgery, and she really needed rest. I ended up telling her my gut told me she really needed to stay home and that I always listen to those feelings. She got that, and she chose to stay home!


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