I have always felt like putting my child first was best. I have always felt strongly about breastfeeding, baby wearing, co-sleeping and more, but I never really felt like I knew why these things were important to me. Now, reading The Attachment Parenting Book by Dr. William Sears, I realize that my instinctual desires to do these things have a scientific basis and are backed up by countless personal stories of parenting successes.
How we treat our infants DOES effect them and the kind of person they will turn out to be. I believe that putting myself in my children's place and asking myself how I would like to be treated in a given situation helps me to handle something better than if I were to just assume that my child will be fine if he or she cries for a bit, sleeps alone, or learns not to count on me for comfort. How would I feel, if I were left alone in a dark room full of strange shadows, unfamiliar sights and scary sounds and when I called for help and comfort no one came to my aid? How would I feel if I was just learning to be able to do things for myself and someone came along and took away my chance to prove to myself and everyone else that I could do it? How would I feel if I was learning about my emotions and someone else kept telling me how I was feeling; that I wasn't really hurt?
I believe that most parents really do want to do the very best for their children and raise them to be strong, healthy, responsible, independent members of our society and everyone has to come to their own conclusions about how that is accomplished, but I also believe that people tend to do what their parents did, or what their parents are telling them to do now without being conscious about why they are making the choices they are making.
I am certainly guilty of that myself. I have been raising my daughter the way that I was raised and since I turned out pretty awesome :) I figured that was a cool way to raise a child. I have followed my mother's advice when I was at a loss about how to handle something with my daughter and gone to my sister and others for advice as well. I never thought about why I was doing what I was doing, I was just doing it. I was following my instincts and the path laid out by the way I was raised.
There isn't really anything wrong with this, because I really am doing all the right things (ha ha ha - can't even type that with a straight face), no, seriously - I am doing all these things that I believe in so strongly, but now I am finding out why they are important and why I want to continue and what other techniques I want to start doing/using. I am becoming a more conscious parent.
I am no longer blindly following my mother's advice (although her advice and that of others is still of great value to me) and I am no longer feeling like I am flying blindly in the wind doing whatever feels right at the time (although following my instincts is generally still my best resource), now I am learning about why I feel the need to handle a situation with my daughter in a particular way. When I am tense and tired and frustrated, I feel like I have more tools at my disposal and I feel like I am more likely to handle things better. I am learning techniques to help me parent her, and soon my son, in a way that will help them feel strong and healthy and responsible and loved and comforted and respected from birth through their adulthood.
How I treat my daughter now and I how I care for my son when he is born WILL effect them for the rest of their lives and my job as their mother is to make as much of an effort to do the vary best by them as is humanly possible. That isn't to say that I won't and haven't made some mistakes or that I don't carry guilt for something I have said or done or handled in a way that I feel isn't right. But it is my deepest hope and prayer that because I work so hard at being the best parent I can be, that my failings will be fewer and have a smaller impact due to the strong foundation I provide 99% of the time.
I want to be conscious in my parenting and even though I will still seek advice from others and even though I will follow my instincts I will still try to keep learning more about the kind of parent I want to be and put my full focus on this job that I have undertaken. A job that carries more responsibility and more rewards than any other job in the whole world! GULP!!