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In my “shouldness,” did I hurt my daughter’s feet?

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In the days when my daughters were little, the right thing to do was buy your children ‘proper’ walking shoes. They were expensive.. amazingly so, really… and they were considered an absolute necessity for your child’s developing feet.

So when my first daughter turned out to be surely one of the tiniest ‘walkers’ of all times and they didn’t make walking shoes to fit her, I felt bad. I felt guilty. I searched the world over, as much as one could without the internet, to find her ‘proper’ walking shoes. I even inquired about having them made, but that wasn’t an option.

I found her these little black shoes… amazed to find anything in her size that had a sole. I didn’t admit it openly, because after all I was always ‘apologizing’ when people wondered where her proper shoes were, but I thought the shoes rocked. In my gut I knew they made sense. Those little flexible soles moved with her feet, and the cotton tops seemed very comfortable. And this petite little child, who awed people by the fact that she was walking ‘so young,’ (really, not so young, just sooo tiny) walked, ran and jumped wildly in her little shoes.

When my second daughter, who was more usual in size, started walking.. hallelujah! There were proper shoes to fit her! Deep down as I looked at the shoes I thought, ‘seriously?”, but I celebrated that at least for her I could pay the big bucks and give her proper walking shoes.

Okay, who concocted the theory that flat bottom, inflexible soled, hard leather shoes were good for a baby’s feet? No cushioning for the bottom of the feet, no soft leather, just hard little shoes that made them walk like they were walking with boards on their feet. Imagine that. How was that good for the jumping, balancing, climbing, or even simply walking?

I was conflicted.. as many parents are on many things they think they ‘should’ do: Delighted to do the right thing, concerned that the right thing wasn’t actually right. I think she ended up wearing the ‘proper’ shoes out… they were cute! And I think she ran barefoot the rest of the time.

But guess which child has had problems with her feet ever since? Yes, of course, the one with the expensive ‘proper’ walking shoes.

I share this story so you can reconsider the ‘shoulds’ in your life. Anything happening that you can say, “Hey, I don’t need that ‘should’.. I’m going with my gut instinct instead.” Remember to jump for joy as you add, “And I’m not going to feel guilty about it either!”

And darling second daughter? I’m really sorry about your feet.

By Janet L.Whitehead

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