My son was breastfed till 5 months then bottle fed, he was swaddled and rocked to sleep, he had a pacifier, we did lots of tummy time and assisted development exercises, he loves music and song, he used a walker for a LONG time, I baby wore him a lot, I helicopter parent him, we did pureed foods for ages, he doesn’t go to childcare and homeschooling is an option we are considering.
My daughter is five months old and exclusively breastfed, I have co-slept with her from day one, she has never had a pacifier, she has never been swaddled, she loves to snuggle, she feeds to sleep, we do not have a pram for her, I am going to try baby led weaning when she starts solids (no purees), we never forced tummy time, I baby wear her a lot.
Two babies, both my own, I have done some things similar and others quite different. Do you know why I parent my children this way?
No. You don’t.
Because you are not their parent.
During the past week I witnessed an online discussion about a particular method of parenting. Parent A was a big advocate, parent B really loved the theory but after years of trial and error had needed to deviate slightly with her child, parent A wasn’t exactly understanding.
I read the conversation and shook my head. Whether you believe in the ‘mummy wars’ or not there is no denying that when it comes to parenting even the most rational people can get very judgmental and super defensive. I know, I have totally done both. The fact is we tend to get more emotional about matters that are close to our hearts, and being a good parent is of paramount importance for most people. Our choices often leave us feeling emotionally exposed. But what we forget is this journey is not black and white…and no, you will never know the best way to parent my children.
Like any parent I live and breathe these two souls. I am with them every morning to see them greet the world, to see what makes them cry and what brings joyous giggles. I see anxiety, fear or frustration rise in their bodies when others only see an awkward smile. I know what each of them needs to feel safe and loved. I see what motivates passion and inspiration in their actions. Because oh golly gosh they are complex beings with so many little quirks that only I will notice. They are unique individuals with needs that are theirs alone. This is why I am parenting the way I am.
Am I parenting the way I dreamt I would? No. To be honest there are some things I do that I don’t agree with, yet in our situation it is necessary. For instance I would really rather not helicopter parent at parks, but I happen to have a son that has gross motor challenges and a skull with giant holes in it, soooooo bring on the propellers people. Parenting is a journey of trusting your instincts and trusting your child, because each one is on a different path that requires a unique approach.
Do not get me wrong, I am all for sharing information and methods and tools; what works for you? what studies have been done to support it? what makes you uncomfortable? And yes, if a parent is at the point of seriously endangering their child with their actions, of course intervention is important. But when it comes to the nitty gritty, when another parent is obviously trying their upmost to do the very best for their child, wouldn’t it be nice if what we felt was not judgement but instead admiration and empathy. As a parent wouldn’t it be nice to feel understood and accepted for the choices you have spent countless hours contemplating and evaluating. Let us all remember that every parent is the specialist in their child’s life, and they alone can discover the best way to nurture their child.
Mum out there…
Dad out there…
You are doing an amazing job xox