Self-efficacy, or self-belief, isn’t something that we hear about often as a parenting topic but we need to start talking about it. So, what is self-efficacy?
“It is the belief we have in our abilities, specifically our ability to meet the challenges ahead of us and complete a task successfully.” (Akhtar, 2008)
As parents (heck, as human beings!), we will make mistakes. What’s important for us to grasp is the knowledge that we will learn from these mistakes and do better next time.
Note: This blog post isn’t about a certain style of parenting. It’s about the importance of self-belief and knowing that your choices are the best for your family. I could have used any topic as an example: sleep, sun protection, etc. I am using my breastfeeding story because this was my experience towards uncovering my self-efficacy.
My self-belief began alongside my breastfeeding journey. I discovered the power of my body while I birthed and breastfed my children. I had grown these children throughout my pregnancies. And I provided them with all of the food and nutrition they needed after they were born. After successfully nursing my children into toddlerhood, I realized that I had been right all those months ago. The decision that we made as parents was the right one for our family!
My parenting journey is not perfect; far from it actually. But the lessons that I learned from exclusively breastfeeding my children gave me the power to trust my instincts. They have also taught me how to be humble when it comes to bad decisions. To be honest, I struggle with eating my piece of humble pie. That might be due to my Italian roots…
But how can you obtain self-efficacy – this belief in yourself? How is it developed?
I had the full support from my family with my choice to breastfeed. Support doesn’t necessarily mean that they followed the same path that you are traveling. It means that they respect your decisions and are interested in hearing your story. Support can come from anyone who is part of your every day life: immediate family, extended family, friends, neighbours or members of your church.
Being with like-minded parents gives you the opportunity to witness their stories, to share the struggles and celebrate the joys. Look at where your interests and values are. For attachment parenting, many communities have branches of La Leche League and babywearing groups.
A word of advice about the social media community. Use it wisely. There are a lot of pros and cons to joining the “mommy Facebook” groups, but a definite plus is the get-togethers. They are usually informal and hosted at parks, private residences, indoor playgrounds or family-friendly cafés.
If you have a partner, they are a part of the family and an integral part of the decision making. Talk to them, share good information (my next point) and discuss it together. Try to discuss the topic calmly. If emotions run too high, take a break and revisit the discussion another day. You are not going to agree on everything and that is healthy and normal. Remember that relationships are give and take. Oftentimes, compromise is the answer.
The best decision is an informed decision. Do your research! When you find “advice” online, dig a bit deeper. Where did they get their information? Are there studies to back the information up? Does the author seem biased? Just because something is online doesn’t make it a fact. Please don’t base your findings on a blog (and yes, I like the irony here too), speak with the professionals and ask them where they get their information.
How are you building your self-efficacy? Share your stories in the comments!
“If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.” Mahatma Gandhi