living after the death of a baby, living with Autism, living as a family of six, living on our organic homestead, living miserably, hopefully, and with joy, and somedays just living

Anti-that-kind-of-parentite

Wanna do something controversial?  Have a baby.  Seriously.

I’ve read a few posts on other blogs recently on parenting styles, and then I spent some time talking with my friend Jodelene last night who is also a mama.  A mama going through a trauma, so she has different diversity parenting issues to deal with than me.  Also my friend Monica‘s blog posts have been rattling around in my brain (this one and this one.)

All of it has me reflecting on parenting.   Parenting styles, specifically, and tolerance.   You see I love Monica’s post, I don’t agree with it all, I personally think that we still need to fight for breastfeeding.  I think too much lips service is being paid to breastfeeding, doctors say breast is best while handing new moms a can of formula, just in case. Women are still being asked to cover up, or to take it to the bathroom, or are being discriminated against by articles like this one (hmm they did remove it).  On the other hand, I think she’s right, women who choose to bottle feed are also being discriminated against.  I know I have been quick to judge in the past.  If a woman has truly been presented with all the information to make an informed choice, I believe she has a right to chose, even if I don’t make the same one.

Everyone comes from different parent sets, and some of us feel the way our parents did it was right.  After all we all turned out okay, right?  And some of us want to steer in a completely new direction, opting to do it in a different way, then the way we were raised.

It seems to me that parenting style are increasingly being categorized with catchy titles.  Ferberizing, Baby Lead Weaning, Baby Wise-ing, family bed etc. etc.  Unlike in the past where we mostly just called it parenting, and you did it your way, and we did it ours.  Now we have books, websites, experts presenting at our mom groups on the merits of ‘their’ way, all putting styles, and the ‘rules on how to implement them, into neat little boxes.  And the problem, as I see it, with labeling, is that it leads to exclusion, other parent discrimination, and the us vs. them mentality.

Are you a monster if you let your baby cry it out?  Are you  creating an unhealthy attachment if you let your kids sleep with you?  Should you go to jail if you spank your kids? Are your kids going to be uneducated idiots if you homeschool, or allow them to chose their own educational path by unschooling? If a “typical hippy” mom with her baby at the hip, breastfeeding uncovered, while handing her older kid a raw vegetarian snack, starts talking about how fantastic the epidural was, should she have her sling revoked?

When Petra and Elijah were born I started a company that made slings and other baby products, so needless to say I was of the babywearing camp, however, I wanted nothing to do with an AP parenting group.  Why?  Because those Attachment Parenting moms and dads believed that you should wear your baby 24/7, and I couldn’t live up to that standard.  Imagine my surprise when I learned that was not the case at all, and that an AP group would have been a great fit for me.

You see, I’m pretty crunchy, I think.  I have strong views about how I feel is the right way to parent.  Sometimes it’s a rousing success, and sometimes it’s a complete flop.  Both these experiences help me to shape the way I parent the next day.  The way I raise my kid shouldn’t have to conform to a way, but I must admit I get hung up in it too.

The other day Micah was miserable.  I was tired.  He kept pinching me, pushing me away, but didn’t he want to be put down.  He wanted to nurse, and bite.  He needed sleep, but the arching of his back at the moment his eyes fluttered shut kept jerking him awake, and the screaming had me fearful we might have another ASD kid in the house.  I had him in the sling, the wrap, the mei tai, he wanted nothing to do with being worn.  I rocked him in the chair.  He was changed, and fed.  I tried nursing him, over and over, he clearly wasn’t interested.  I tried homeopathics, and then Tylenol in case of teething, or other unknown discomfort, and after several hours it seemed personal.  I’m rational, I know it wasn’t, but somewhere in the moment it felt like he was punishing me , that he was forcing himself awake of his own choosing. Didn’t he know I have other kids to care for too, a home schooling lesson ready, a puppy who just pooed in front of me, and lunch, an hour late, to make?

I wanted to hurt him, I really did want to.  Finally I set him in his crib, and went to call Kyle to sob and vent, while he wailed.  We don’t let our kids cry it out.  That day I left him to cry.  Some would have me believe that I risked brain damaging my child by allowing him to cry, maybe I did, but I should have put him down sooner.  I was seriously at the end of a rope, but I felt like I couldn’t put him down, because I would be abandoning my ideal, I had a box to conform to.  It was a box of my own design on some levels, and one imposed upon me on others.

The whole ordeal left me to wonder how many kids are perhaps brain damaged by a parent who snaps, because they are to involved in a parenting style to break the rules.  In the end I spoke with Kyle, admitted defeat reluctantly, and asked him to come home because I was a ‘crappy’ parent who couldn’t handle it.

My good friend Kim, who I felt was the shining example of how to execute perfect attachment parenting, surprised me one day.  She told me of a story the she had either read, or heard, in the news of a new mom who killed her infant baby by crushing it’s skull in a incident of frustration.  Expecting condemnation on the horror of it, instead she said something to the effect of: unless you have kids you can’t know how easy it is to feel that way.  As a new mom, at the time, I was so relieved that I wasn’t the only one.  So, we talked about how sad it was that she would have to mourn her baby, while many would likely feel she didn’t have the right to mourn because it was of her own doing.  I loved Kim a little more that day, and I love her a lot more today, she is one of my moms I look up to.

I don’t know where the parenting books are going to take us next, what the next ‘way’ will be.  I don’t see that things are going to get less separated, in fact I believe it will likely become more so. I wrote an article for The Shape of a Mother that asked moms to embrace each other as moms, instead of stacking themselves up against others to see who made it though pregnancy the least ‘badly’ that included this line:

No matter who we are on the outside, we all want the same thing for our children, room to grow, happiness, and love. How we provide that, is as diverse as our physical appearance.

So, I now say embrace each other as mothers regardless of how your body is changed, and love each other as mothers, and fathers, regardless of how you parent, as long as it is done respectfully, with love, without willful harm, and with the intention to form a well rounded, tolerant, beautiful grown person.  After all, parenting has always been diverse, it always will be, and learning about diversity is the best way to understand it, and to decide about the ways you would like to raise your children.

My parenting style is likely to continue to change, at least I hope it will, as I find the best way to get though to my kids and to feel good about the choice I’m making.  I also hope I can make myself more open to other parents even if I would never do it their way.

Comments on: "Anti-that-kind-of-parentite" (11)

  1. Beautifully written, with so much truth and acceptance of other parents and other ways. You and I are very different. I support medicine and hospital births. I teach my children to sleep on their own by crying it out (in a gentle way), I have a billion slings and carriers but barely used them because it was uncomfortable and I felt like I couldn’t do anything while carrying them. I totally support playschool, preschool and public school and appreciate the breaks away from my kids and love that they are getting a different learning experience from other people. But, I love that you are a “granola” mom, work so hard, do so much on your own and love your kids so much. I think that we are both great parents and hopefully in the end, our kids will be fantastic people that believe that their parents love them with every piece of their entire being.

    Tara

  2. First of all, I have to say that I truly believe that you should channel your immense writing talent in to a complete book…fiction or non….I could have a famous relative!

    Secondly, I would say that I agree with you…however I prefer to consider myself “anti-label-of-anykind”. I went in to both pregnancy and parenting knowing my own ignorance and being completely open to advice and suggestions (whether from friends, family, books or the internet) but I was also fully aware that, as most everything in my life, I would take from it what I wanted, and politely dismiss what I didn’t care for. However, despite my openess to learn, my search for knowledge and ideas when challenged as a parent (or when I just really have no idea what I am doing) and my occasional worry if I am doing “the right thing”, my husband (who does non of the research or questioning, reading or listening, and rarely EVER the parenting worrying) is really the most ideal parent I have ever met. Both of my boys ADORE him and the only parenting philosophy he goes by is “love” and “fun”…oh and a time out here and there.

    I know you and I probably have completely different “parenting styles” and yet we still manage to have happy (and adorable children)…in the end thats really the measure of our relationship with our kids!

    PS: seriously, start writing a book (with all of your free time…hehe)!

  3. Cindy Ramsfield said:

    I think all parents have very high expectations of how they should be parenting. Whether it’s a definate catagory involving AP or Mainstream parenting, we all have these huge expectations that most of us, if not all of us, are not capable of living up to. Parenting is a learning curve, and with all learning curves we need to make mistakes in order to learn and grow as parents. We can say it’s not right for us to loose our cool and get angry at our kids, but it is alright. It’s human. What is right for one parent is not right for another, and it is no one’s place to judge or critisize because there is not one single way to parent. Parenting style is unique to the parent. If it is best for you, the parent, to put your child down and let him cry, then it is also best for your child. Doing what’s best for your child is the best way to parent, but finding out what is best for your child starts out with discovering what is best for you.

  4. Well said!

  5. A beautiful yet hard-hitting piece as usual, Erron. I love it.

    I had too much to say for just a comment, so I blogged my thoughts stemming from this: http://kimjohnstone.blogspot.com/2010/11/from-there-to-where.html

  6. I totally agree with you and the “pressure” to fit in with other moms or stereo type parerting. I could list off a few of the things that worked for me when we were struggling in the first few weeks with a newborn that would ruffle a few feathers in the mommy olympics arena. It just seems that everything you choose for your kid is fair game for someone to start judging you.There is something terribly wrong however when a mommy has to start defending her choices, because we have enough to worry about in our day to day. Thanks for this post Erron!

  7. And for all our angst over our parenting skills, I feel after having my 3 in under 3 years, each of them required a different sort of parent because each of them are different characters.

    As for the screaming baby, I was at my wits end when my youngest (aged about 4 months at the time) screamed non stop for hours. Like you I ran down my checklist and still the screaming continued. Not knowing what to do I said directly to her, ‘There must be something very wrong, I’m going to have to phone the hospital’ – I was worried sick and had the phone in my hand.

    And to my shock she stopped screaming and smiled right at me.

    Be warned, children are far smarter than any parenting style yet invented!!!

  8. This is so well written! And I can really understand where you are coming from! I had recently written something on my own blog about a lot of the same topics, though not quite as beautifully written as you have put it! I’ll for sure be adding your blog to my watch list!

    http://blog.canadianparents.com/definitionofawife/2010/11/04/ive-become-a-crunchy-momma/

  9. Oh Erron! I sooo love this post! I’m so terribly guilty of getting cauight up in whatever myb parenting style is to often forget that my kids are individuals- and therefore probably need dfferent parenting styles and even those needs change from phase to phase as they grow into their own personalities! All we can do is do the best we can, accepting that sometimes our best will not be enough. I love that you focus on what brings us together rather than what separates us as mothers/parents. It yet another important lesson for me to remember and teach my girls when they are moms someday! I remember feeling like I had failled the ultimate parentng test at a time that should have been the happiest in my life- bringing home our first baby- but because of all the social pressures and parenting ‘trends’ at the time I cried from the guilt for months about having a c-section (no one in my family had c-sections and my grammas had 6 and 10 babies!) Then to also fail at breast feeding…WELL I was surely going the motherng hell! Lol I can laugh now, maybe its age or time or that I had more babies and realised that hat was truly important to ME was simply having a healthy and happy baby and that the rest really didn’t matter (to me at least… And most likely didn’t matter to the babies either!) Lol and yes- Erron you should write a book.

  10. [...] more, Erron wrote a blog post that explained her choices about Attachment Parenting and mentioned how she disagreed with me about [...]

  11. [...] even this post by From the Inside Looking In:  “Anti-That-Kind-of-Parent”. Share this:StumbleUponTwitterFacebookMorePrintEmailDiggRedditLinkedInLike this:Like16 bloggers [...]

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