Why?? Why do we do what we do as parents? Why do we read, not read, sleep train, not sleep train, breastfeed, bottlefeed, cloth diaper, disposable diaper, organic or nonorganic? These are questions that new moms have to face all the time when preparing for parenting. Unfortunately, these questions continue. There will always be critics of everything you do, especially your parenting style. I did not think I would have to defend my style so early in my child's little life (at the ripe age of 1 month).
Unfortunately, I had an acquaintance and strong proponent of the Babywise method that it is a very realistic version of parenting. She proceeded to tell me that I would not understand until I had more children and that one child is "a piece of cake." This is coming from a girl who has only 2 kids. I do not know her children's temperaments, nor does she know mine. Whether she meant it as a slam or just a statement (with no harm intended), it kind of made me mad. I can take a lot of criticism and tend to run the line of not rocking the boat on parenting styles because you have to do what works for you and I will do what works for me. I also think change for every child, because nothing will work for everyone. But this rebutal is in response to that statement. I will be the first to say that I have so much to learn and really know very little about parenting. I have one child who is 1 month old. I can stand a few "lessons" from other parents. I also am very open to hearing ANY idea that you may have, but I will take it with a grain of salt and move on. I am also aware that having more than one child is different that having only 1 child, but your intention to parent the children does not change. There are alot of issues that I obviously have not crossed because of the age of my child, but that doesn't change how I parent and my philosophy. I am also open to changing methods if something does not work for us, but I won't throw my whole theory out with the bath water.
I am a Christian, wife, mother, sister, friend, green, organic, hippie, libertarian, cloth diapering, co sleeping, breastfeeding, attachment parenting, baby wearing, not sure about schooling, barefooting, natural birthing, thinks pot should be legal kind of girl. (And yes, I said that last statement!)
These are the things that define me as a person and make me...well...me! These are the things that determine what parenting style my husband and I have chosen. Now, speaking of parenting styles...I don't really like to label it. I like to do what seems natural and intentional. That being said, my theories do line up more with AP than with any other philosophy.
That leads me to my explanations of parenting for my husband and I:
1. Natural Pregnancy and Labor: I believe that labor is intended to be a natural process, not a medical diagnosis if you have a healthy, normal pregnancy. I chose to be very holistic in my care, have a natural delivery and be as organic as possible during my pregnancy. I believe that home births and birth center births are awesome. I am saying this as someone who did it and also as a labor and delivery nurse. This is not for everyone, but it did work for us. There are things I did during my pregnancy that probably weren't the best (ie: eating a whole row of Oreos or eating carne asada chips at 3AM), but that doesn't make me a bad mother...just human. I did what I could and I what I thought was best. Why? Because it felt natural!
2. Baby bonding: I believe that baby bonding is very important. I was not able to put the baby skin to skin immediately after birth due to complications, but I did do this as soon as it was medically safe and possible. I cherish the moments where my son laid on my bare chest and his little naked body snuggled close. I cherish the skin to skin breastfeeding. It was the most natural feeling I could feel and loved every minute of it. We did this multiple times throughout the early days and weeks after birth. Why? Because it felt natural!
3. Breastfeeding: I believe that breastfeeding is a privilege and opportunity that I have to do what is best for my child. It provides immunity, comfort, and nourishment all in one. I can continue to increase the bond with my child. Do I think you are a bad mother because you bottle feed or use formula...no, but this is what I have chosen. I also do infant led feeding and weaning. I plan to feed as often and as long as my child desires so that I don't rip that closeness away too early. This is researched fact by the WHO. When people follow methods such as "parent directed feeding", evidence shows possible health implications that could pose harmful for the infant. I get to eat when I want, why shouldn't my child. Do you eat at the same exact time every day and the same exact amount of food? Probably not. This is what is my choice. Why? Because it felt natural!
4. Intentional parenting: I intend to meet all of my baby's emotional, physical, and other needs as much as I possibly can. I plan to learn my baby's cues and cries and determine what he needs...then meet it. I do not think (especially in infants) that children should have to learn to self soothe at such an early age. I also don't plan to offer them more distress than the world will already provide. I want to provide comfort and trust for my child. They need to feel safe with their parents. Why? Because it felt natural!
5. CoSleeping: My husband and I have initiated a family bedsharing process for sleeping. I feel this provides rest for all of us, safety for my child, and comfort for my child. I also find it much easier to fulfill the breastfeeding on demand this way. This may change in the future, but for now...it works. I do think that "sleep training" is important in moderation and with the right kind of model. You either sleep train with time or with tears. I choose time. I don't plan to allow my child to CIO. I plan to use models such as The No Cry Sleep Solution. This will also be determined partially by my child. I get to sleep when I want, why shouldn't he. Why? Because it feels natural!
6. Cloth Diapers: This makes economical sense. This makes environmental sense. This makes diaper rash almost go away. This keeps chemicals away from my baby. They are also just so darn cute on little babies! Why? Because it feels natural!
7. Babywearing: I believe this is important for many reasons. No need for a child to feel like less of a person all the time living at knee high in a stroller. It is easier to move around and I carry less stuff. The child gets to learn from me about social interaction and gets to see things from my perspective. It provides comfort for an overstimulating world. It is "womb" like for my little tyke. I, again, can meet the demands of breastfeeding easier and quicker. I can breastfeeding anywhere at anytime. (yes, I nurse freely in public) He doesn't have to cry and wait for comfort because he is already comforted and is quietly alert in my arms taking in all the sites around. Why? Because it feels natural!
8. Balance: I strive to achieve balance in my life. This includes my personal walk with Jesus, my relationship with my husband, my chores around the house, my alone time, and of course, my parenting time. This is still in the very early stages of my parenting life, but I can still strive for this. Why? Because it feels natural!
Now, all that being said...I have to knock just a little on Babywise. There are many other parenting methods that I disagree with also, ,such as Ferberization. But at least Dr. Ferber is an MD, does research at Boston Children's in a sleep lab. He adjusts his methods according to his research results and states that not everything works for all babies. I can at least respect the man, but I don't have to agree with the model.
Babywise is written by Gary Ezzo. It was first written as Sunday school material for a class that he and his wife taught years ago. He renamed it Babywise when he made a secular version and got a crazy pediatrician to agree with him. If you do your research, though; you will see that he has been ex communicated by his church, his publisher, his business partners, his pastor and HIS OWN CHILDREN! He also has no medical or psychological training in the field in which he teaches. He also relates morality to childhood behaviors. Just because a child cries to eat does not make this child immoral. This method claims to have "no evidence of harm", but it does not claim to have "evidence of NO HARM!" There is a big difference. I for one intend to provide no trust issues for my baby. The big bad world will do that without me helping. Yes, I will mess up as a parent and do the wrong thing. I hope to not do it intentionally, though.
Sorry for such a long blog...but sometimes you just have to vent. This is the most rational, nonviolent, calm and respectful way that I know how.
This is my voice. This is my choice. This is my parenting!