Friday, January 22

The problem with parenting

Parenting is a tough job. Really tough. And especially for women. You carried this small life inside you for approximately nine months, giving it nourishment from your own body and keeping it safe - many times much to your discomfort. Then you've got to go through the pain and triumphs of labor. Pushing an approximately 7-8 pound baby out through an orifice that - at the time - really doesn't feel as though it was made for that kind of thing.

But it doesn't end after pregnancy and labor and delivery. It continues. Because now you've got to raise him. And feed her. Love her. Protect him. Change his diapers. You see where I'm going with this. Because I haven't even touched the parts about teaching your child or instilling moral values. I haven't gotten that far.

Because society won't let me. Because I can't even get past all the yammering and opinion shoving being done about the little things in infancy and toddlerhood. It's gone beyond a sharing of information and stretched into the territory of angry dictation.

See? Two really cute kids. I'm a lucky mama.

A wonderful friend of mine, Michelle, posted an article from her local area about, "Can co-sleeping be done safely?" The article is obviously biased - well, it's in the opinion section, what were we expecting? But it's biased in such a way that really upsets me. You don't have to read it, because the main gist is that co-sleeping is dangerous and should not be done.

Since when have we lost so much faith in our natural instincts as parents that we look to governmental institutions to tell us how to parent? No, they're not telling us, mamas. They're trying to frighten us and bully us into parenting in the way they see fit. And the truth is? We're letting them.

The fact of the matter is, for the seemingly well-intended author of the article, co-sleeping can be done safely. I have two children to prove it. But, you do need to be smart about it.
  • Don't sleep with your child if you're drunk or on heavy prescription medication. (DUH.)
  • Don't keep an excessive amount of pillows on the bed. - In fact, what I did was sleep near the edge of the bed and I simply piled my extra pillows on the floor next to the bed. In case of falls. But guess what? There were no falls.
  • If you're worried, pull the crib right up alongside your bed so it's like a sidecar. (If you need illustrations, just Google co-sleeping sidecar and you'll find some amazing tutorials)
I could go on, but a lot of the other tips I can think of are common sense. The fact of the matter remains - we all have naturally inborn parenting instincts. But I fear we've spent far too much time listening to the government and allowing foreign parties who don't know our situations and don't know our families dictate how we parent our children.

I am a breastfeeding advocate, someone who has reaped the benefits of co-sleeping. I advocate (and am experimenting and constantly struggling with) gentle discipline. We homeschool. We delay vaccinations. We used cloth diapers. I was able to breastfeed my youngest until she was 15 months old. We use herbal remedies and stay away from the doctor as much as possible.

You don't have to agree with me on co-sleeping. You don't have to agree with me on anything I just said. It wasn't me tooting my own horn. It was me telling you - this is the beauty of living in America. I can choose how I want to parent and raise my children.

Living in America is supposed to mean that I have the freedom to choose. You don't have to agree, but we can support each other's right to choose to follow our parenting instincts. It's been said that it takes a village to raise a child - how can a child be raised properly in a village where mothers are pitting themselves against other mothers in battles over how to raise these children? As mothers, we should be able to band together to provide love and support for each other through these sometimes trying times. We should support each other. Yet we can't seem to find it within ourselves to do even that.

I have my way of raising my children. You have yours. And I support your right as a parent to raise your children in the best manner you see fit, even if it's the complete opposite of mine.

I fear for the future, knowing that there are so many parents out there who will blindly listen to an outside party who knows nothing other than flat statistics with no depth behind them. Because far too many parents will read that article and agree without doing any research. For too long we have been trained by society to shut off our brains and roll along with the status quo. How much longer before we wake up?


  1. Hey there, stopping over from SITS!

    I have to agree with you 100%. Parents need to just focus on how their child is adapting & growing, & not on how other people are raising their kids! There is no right or wrong, every family is different!

    I also co-slept with my daughter, & still do sometimes. (she's almost 6) A little common sense and co-sleeping can be a WONDERFUL thing!

  2. Thank you so much for stopping by my blog! I really appreciated your comment.

    I JUST read something (I think it was in Newsweek) about overparenting and how it has become RIDICULOUS in America, to the point where parents are texting teachers when their kids get bad grades.

    It really is all about common sense.

  3. Lin, I have to agree with you completely. So much of parenting anymore is fear based and the average parent is insecure enough in his/her inate parenting abilities and intuition that they are happy to have someone who appears to be in authority tell them what to do. Step by step instructions aren't born along with the baby, not to make our job harder, but for one globally indisputable fact - every child, ever mom, every experience is different and therefore, a single set of do's and don't isn't applicable. I have 3 boys and I have co-slept and nursed and cloth diapered all of my children but each child needed a different approach to all of those parenting choices. I don't generally spank, only partially because I don't personally like it, but mostly because in my years as a mother I have learned that none of my children fit the same mould. Or ANY mould for that matter.
    Another thing I've learned is that being the best parent you can be is a mixture of making choices that make you a better happier person and making choices that are solely for the benefit of the child, regardless how you will be affected. It's a fine line to walk and we will make enough mistakes and have more than enough guilt and pain without adding the 'parenting through fear' method.
    I've faced a good deal of fear mongering from doctors and child-related professionals, ignorant people and misguided advice givers.
    Sorry for the rant, but I get a little impassioned about this subject.