Maryann Bucknum Brinley

167 Cooper Avenue
Upper Montclair, NJ 07043-1810

973-202-5909 (cell)

The Secrets of Happy Parenting

More than 16 years ago, I wrote a book about the secrets of happy parenting. My children, Zach and Maggie, were still children then but the world was just as complicated for parents trying to be happy. In fact, I have researched and written a lot about pregnancy and parenting issues – once from the perch of the director of the Infants and Children’s Laboratory at the Good Housekeeping Institute. Zach is a father of two now. His son, Finn, is 2 ½ and my granddaughter Charlotte just turned 1. Now, Maggie is pregnant with her first, a daughter who will be born sometime around Dec. 4. I am deeply in love with this role of grandmother. So as I look back at parenting and my daughter Maggie looks forward, I have decided to launch a blog, retooling some of those secrets I shared way back when and, at times, examining parenting from two different generational points. Maggie, a wonderful writer as you will discover, is a nurse at New York University’s Langone Hospital.

Happy Mothers Trust Their Instincts

Maryann Bucknum Brinley - Wednesday, November 06, 2013

How to “mother” your own children is not a skill you pick up from a manual, from other mothers or even from professionals, including pediatricians. As my daughter Maggie gets closer to her due date of December 4th, I’ve been thinking a lot about this transition into motherhood. Look at it like learning how to ride a bike. When you first get up on a bicycle seat, you feel shaky. Maybe you even fall off the bike but you keep climbing back on because the sensation is pretty exhilarating. Finally, you start speeding along. It is a unique talent you had all along. You might not have tried it before or known how wonderful it would feel but you had the capacity to ride that bike all along.

Following a manual’s instructions for riding a bike is ridiculous. “Don’t lean too far to either side,” or, “Keep your left foot up while your right foot pedals downward.” Imagine trying to balance while following such detailed directions. It would be impossible. The book would only make riding more complicated than it should be when your own coordination and instinct will ultimately send you sailing along. The same is true for motherhood.

All the parenting books, the professionals as well as that army of well-meaning family and friends should become nothing more to you than a box of tissues. Take the tissue (or advice), use it if you want but toss it aside with no guilt. Following someone else’s parenting advice won’t necessarily make you a better parent, it will just make you a follower.

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