By Kimberly Poovey
A version of this piece was originally published on Her View From Home
In my six short years of being a parent, I’ve learned there are a million right ways to be a parent and very, very few wrong ways.
While this revelation may be obvious to some, it was so astonishing to me that it was like getting the wind knocked out of my lungs.
It is much harder to screw up and damage your child than you think it is, and it is much easier to let your children know they are loved and secure and safe than you ever imagined.
Natural birth? Your kid will be fine.
Give birth under the influence of every drug the doctor could throw at you? Your kid will be fine.
Formula feed? Your kid will be fine.
Breastfeed until age five? Your kid will be fine.
Cry-it-out from six weeks old? Your kid will be fine.
Co-sleep until kindergarten? Your kid will be fine.
Stay at home parent? Your kid will be fine.
Full-time daycare? Your kid will be fine.
Single parent? Your kid will be fine.
Screen-free home? Your kid will be fine.
YouTube is your child’s favorite thing? Your kid will be fine.
Having a child in your 40s? Your kid will be fine.
Having a child in your early 20s? Your kid will be fine.
Did you make all of your own baby food and only buy organic produce? Your kid will be fine.
Does your child only eat goldfish crackers and chicken nuggets? I repeat, your kid will be fine.
Please let this realization hit you smack in the face like a surprise wave at the beach. So many different roads are the right roads toward creating a happy, healthy, empathetic human being. There is no “one way” to be an amazing parent.
None of this is to dismiss the potential for damage and trauma that parents can hold over their children. Bad parents and hurt children are, tragically, very real. But if you are an empathetic, emotionally healthy parent, there’s a very good chance that you’re doing better than you think at this whole parenting thing.
You are most likely doing just fine. No matter what your family looks like, what your kitchen looks like, or what your child’s clothes look like, you really are doing OK. Your children are going to turn out great, and—spoiler alert—you are going to turn out great, too.
Kimberly Poovey is the founder of The Exvangelical Parent. She is a liberal misfit Enneagram 9 INFP who likes long walks on the beach, honey-habanero lattes, and Zoloft. After spending over a decade in the ministry world, she now writes and creates full time. She lives with her partner of 15 years and their 6-year-old son in the mountains of North Carolina.