Interview With Author Lauren Jumrukovski
Becoming a parent comes with a lot of challenges, the biggest one being understanding when to listen to "what they say" and when to ignore it and follow your gut.
Lauren Jumrukovski, author of They Say: Not Your Average Parenting Book, tells us everything about the constant struggle between doing what they say and what you think is best and the reasons why she chose to write this unconventional parenting book!
You have recently published your book titled “They Say: Not Your Average Parenting Book” and you’ve already received an overwhelming amount of positive reviews on Amazon. What do you think is the reason behind this success?
Thank you! Every single time I see a review it truly makes my day. One of the main reasons I wrote this book is because I felt I needed a book like this when I was a new parent, and even now. There are so many feelings which come along with being a parent. Of course there are the beautiful feelings like love, pride, and gratitude; but there are also difficult feelings which we don’t always expect, such as worry, anxiety, guilt and even sadness. My book is a type of parenting guide, but it is heavily based on the emotional side of being a parent. Those who have read my book have told me that they could relate to it and that it helps them feel like they aren’t alone. Just like I wanted to share my feelings and experiences so other parents don’t feel alone, I think my reviewers hope the book will help other parents out there as well. I also started a blog about a year ago. My blog and social media channels have allowed me to connect with so many parents and people which I likely would not have connected with otherwise. I am so thankful to my followers and readers and I think their support has been a huge part of making my book a success.
In your book you motivate other parents to stop questioning themselves too much and to start following their gut. What is one parenting mistake you made because you decided to go against your gut?
A parenting mistake which immediately comes to mind is when my first child was born. When I was pregnant, there was so much talk about breastfeeding and about how essential it was. Based on what “they” said, I thought that if I wasn’t able to breastfeed I would be a failure. I soon learned this was not the truth. Almost as soon as we returned home from the hospital, our baby was screaming. She screamed most of the night. She was having trouble latching. At first, we assumed this was simply because she was a newborn. After several days of this, our pediatrician directed us to a lactation consultant. We found out our baby was not getting enough milk. I wish we had tried supplementing with formula right away, but all the pressure to breastfeed and the negative comments about formula had gotten in the way. Thankfully, we started supplementing with formula and she was soon a full and happy baby. I learned that supplementing did not make me a failure. It made me a great parent because I was feeding my child, whatever the manner. I encourage parents to go with your gut when it comes to feeding. Do what you feel is best for your child, your family and your situation. I personally had three totally different feeding experiences with my three kids.
“They say” silly things most of the time but, sometimes, they get it right! You wrote on your blog that you agree, “having kids is like having your heart walking outside of your body”. So how do you protect your heart from getting broken?
This is such a hard one! I do agree. Having kids, it’s like your heart is exposed. When something happens that hurts my children’s feelings, it hurts. It’s a feeling I am not sure I ever felt until becoming a parent. Over the years and after having three children, I have found a few things which have helped.
First is reminding myself that our children are learning through experiences even if they are negative. It would be impossible to prevent anything negative from happening to our children, but when these things happen, they almost always will grow and learn. They learn even if it is as simple as learning to be confident in themselves no matter what others say.
Second is recognizing that our children aren’t out in the world stumbling along blindly. We have taught them so much through their lives thus far that they can use as they navigate the world on their own. And when they falter, they know they can come to us and we can continue to teach them more.
Last, I think a huge piece of protecting my heart is taking care of myself. A big part of this is allowing time for myself. I find setting aside time to go for a walk, take a bath, or even run a couple of errands alone works wonders for my mental health. Being in a healthy place, I am able to better navigate the difficult feelings which come my way.
At what point in your life as a parent did you realise that what “they say” isn’t always what’s best for your children?
To be honest, I still struggle with not listening to what “they say.” It is difficult not to listen when all of the opinions and suggestions seem to be right there in front of us. This is another reason I wrote this book. I think reminders that there is so much value in trusting our intuition as parents are so important as we try to figure out what works for our families and personal situations. Also, having three children, there were so many times I allowed myself to question whether I was doing something right. I spent a lot of time searching the internet for the one right way. The result: there were so many different ways and opinions and they were all conflicting. As I became a more experienced parent, as I had more children and saw how each child was different, and as I saw how many different ways there are to parent on a global level, I realized more and more that there is no one right way.
You’re a licensed school counsellor and author, but most importantly you’re a mum. What are some parenting choices you admire but haven’t been able to put into practice quite yet?
My children are age one, four, and six, so they are still tiny. I was a middle school counselor before I became a stay-at-home mom and author. There are many parenting choices I admire and would like to put in place as my children grow. One I would like use is to be careful not to jump right in and “save” my children each time an issue arises. If my children face an issue, problem, or make a mistake, I absolutely want to be there for them. But, I also want to encourage them to try to brainstorm solutions on their own and come up with a feasible solution for them. I can guide them through this process, but I wouldn’t want to solve it for them. I think this practice helps children become problem-solvers and helps prepare them for the future. Another one I admire is family dinners. I would like to try to sit down as a family to have dinner as much as possible as my children go. I hope this will help build communication.
During your experience working as a school counsellor have you ever noticed any generational gap between the parenting methods put in act by young parents compared to older ones?
I have definitely noticed different parenting methods. I believe it varies from family to family. Some of us end up parenting as our parents parented us. Some of us parent just the opposite. Some of us find some place right in between. I believe in the media right now there is more of a push towards what is called “gentle parenting.” I also believe that there are benefits to both “older” parenting styles and the newer ones. Based on the fact that I see true value in going with our guts as parents, I believe that parents know their children best and should utilize what works for them.
Some parents believe in the power of grounding their children, other prefer to use the support of technology. What is your “go-to method” when your children are driving you crazy?
Absolutely! Sometimes our kids do drive us crazy and I believe that is normal! We do a little bit of everything and I don’t think any of these options are wrong. As parents it is important to understand it might be a process of trial and error and our methods might need to adapt or change as our children get older. Currently, our go-to method with young kids is time-out (whether it be for discipline or for calming down). We do a minute per year of age, and it seems to work for us. In the end, I think it all comes down to what works and what is best for the family and for the child.
Your book is a “judgement-free, uplifting guide for parents and parents to be”. What is the most judgement you have received since becoming a parent and how have you dealt with it?
My son had a lot of issues with reflux when he was young. Our pediatrician recommended we start solids with him at 4 months old – that it would help. So, we did. Another doctor then told me I absolutely should not be feeding my son solids and that he should only be getting breast milk until six months old. It made me feel really bad even though I was listening to our pediatrician. Later, at the direction of our pediatrician, we gave him a little plain milk to try at 11 months old. Unfortunately, he did not react well. Unbeknownst to us at the time, he had a dairy sensitivity. The same doctor as before told us that it was a mistake to give him the milk any time before 12 months of age. I think this judgement cut even deeper because it was from a doctor. It made me feel like I may have caused my child harm. Honestly, I ended up switching doctors. I believe a doctor should make us feel better not worse. I think it’s important to find doctors who we can trust.
I have heard so many examples of judgment since starting out in this space. I have heard judgement on topics from bottle feeding and formula feeding, to the methods we use to put our kids to sleep, to how we handle discipline, and even the process we take to have a child in the first place. It is heartbreaking.
I hope my book will encourage parents to be confident in their decisions, and also to realize that just because we choose to parent differently that doesn’t make any of us wrong. It would be amazing to live in a world where there is no judgement and where we all support each other and build each other up.
You can grab a copy of my book online at the following online retailers: Amazon, Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble, Target, Walmart, and Mascot Books!
Learn more about me and follow along on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest @theysayparenting and on Twitter @tsparenting!
Written by Daniela Pisciottano
Images Courtesy of Lauren Jumrukovski