John Cowan - For Jacinda

Publish Date
Thursday, 7 June 2018, 12:36PM
Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

By John Cowan

Recently a newspaper reporter asked me what advice I would give Jacinda Adern about her new baby. I felt like saying that my advice would be not to take advice from a newspaper columns but, actually my advice was take advice from everyone. You don’t  actually need to seek it out: if you are a young parent (especially if you also happen to be Prime Minister), an avalanche of advice is going to descend on you, whether you want it or not. So you may as well want it. When people offer it, thank them. Ask questions, ask their opinions, ask about their experience. I’d do this for a number of reasons. 

First of all, even if you are an expert, you can always learn useful new stuff. Secondly, people love it when you listen to them and ask questions, and good relationships around you and your baby are even more important than good advice. Asking for advice is perhaps the best way to keep your own parents and in-laws happy and purring. And thirdly, you can be grateful for the advice you are given but in the end, you don’t have to act on it.  You’d be foolish not to act on your doctor’s advice, but  apart from that, just weigh up advice and then go with your gut feelings. You, more than anyone else on the planet, know that child intimately. If you are the biological parent, the overlap between your genes and theirs  gives you a head start  on understanding and empathising with your child. There is no one right way to bring up a child – there are lots of right ways, and even a when you make mistakes, there are not many of them that are irreparable.

 So, my advice? Go with the wisdom from an expert… and you will become the expert on your child. There you go, Jacinda: back yourself.

About John

John has been with The Parenting Place ( for seventeen years as their senior writer and presenter.  He had various roles working with youth and families prior to that but actually started his working life as a scientist in neurophysiology at Auckland Hospital.  As well as writing and speaking, John is frequently on radio and television.

Take your Radio, Podcasts and Music with you