Friday, December 30, 2011
Choices and Judgment
My ideas on parenting are not wrong, they are not “way out in left-field” and I am not the only one applying my same ideas in their own parenting styles. I am however, one of only a few people that I know who parent like I do. I feel frustrated when my husband receives outdated advice and outright judgment about how we are raising our child. He comes to me all concerned that we are doing something wrong. Besides, these people have healthy, fairly well-adjusted children, so why shouldn’t their advice be followed?
I think that it is natural to second guess yourself when it comes to parenting. I think that it is natural to think that others are doing something wrong if they choose a different path than you took. I think it is normal to feel a little guilty about a choice that you made and wondering if you perhaps didn’t make the right one. The thing that I believe most firmly is that there isn’t any ONE right path for parents to follow. Every child is different, every parent is different – even my own children will have very different parents. My daughter has been raised thus far by first time parents, while our second child will be raised by second-time parents. Our daughter will be raised the first born and our second child will be raised with a big sister.
People are questioning my continued nursing of Smug-Baby as she nears two years old. I firmly believe that even though she isn’t nursing very often (once or twice a day, nursing to sleep for her nap and bedtime, and maybe once during the night) she is still getting the benefits of the antibodies nursing provides. She is still getting the comfort she needs when she is hurt, tired, or feeling vulnerable. She is a healthy, strong, secure, happy child and I believe that my decisions in parenting have led to that. I am not condemning another person’s choice to parent differently or saying that if you parent differently from my way, that your child will not be as healthy, secure or happy. I am simply saying that my way has worked the way I wanted it to for my daughter. My choice to do something differently than another parent is not a dig at their parenting style or a judgment that they have parented wrongly.
That being said, I think that we all decide how to parent based on looking at the parenting styles of others, along with reading research from experts and taking and applying what resonates with us and discarding what doesn’t. So, it is a kind of judgment about a parenting style when I choose to co-sleep and someone else chooses a cry-it-out sleep training method. I don’t think that anyone would really take offence to a difference in parenting style, except in cases where a parent has turned their back on their instincts and perhaps parented in a way in which they did not feel totally comfortable. In these cases, that parent may feel some guilt about letting someone else sway them from parenting in a way that felt right to them. They may feel guilty that they may have done something detrimental to their child by not following their gut and letting someone else convince them to do something they didn’t want to do. It is normal for a person feeling a lot of guilt to lash out in strong defense of their “choice” and to find they take a lot of offence when someone else takes a different path.
I can’t help but feel that my parenting choices are the best ones and I can’t help but feel like those who are trying to convince me that they are wrong are also those people feeling guilty about their own choices and are trying to make themselves feel better by trying to convince me like they were convinced.
I can’t make a person feel less guilty about their choice, but I can say that it is probably all going to be fine. If your child feels loved and knows that you made the best choices you could for them given the information you had at the time, then it’s all going to be OK. That isn’t to say that you wouldn’t perhaps have made different choices if you could go back, its just to say that beating yourself up, or worse beating up on another parent, about things in the past doesn’t serve any greater purpose! Forgive yourself for any perceived mistakes and try to live and let live!
I will not condemn you for vaccinating your child even though I chose not to take that path. There is nothing wrong with your choice. There is nothing wrong with my choice.
I will not condemn you for bottle-feeding your child, or that you may have stopped breast-feeding before I am. There is nothing wrong with your choice, it just isn't my choice and there is nothing wrong with that either!!