Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Evolution of an Ideology

In the few short months that I have been a mother, I have really seen an evolution in my parenting ideology.  Prior to having a kid, I had some pretty strong opinions about "how one should raise a child."  (I think this is a common fault of the childless.)  And then I had Finn.  And I realized that I can't just mold him into the baby that I want him to be.  He is his own little person with his own issues and personality. 

For example, prior to having a child I firmly believed that babies need lots of sleep and it is your job as a parent to make them sleep.  Now, I still do believe that babies need lots of sleep and as a parent you should help provide an atmosphere and a schedule that promotes sleepiness, but I no longer am under the misconception that you can make a child nap when he does Not Want To Nap.  (I guess I just couldn't imagine a world where a person would not want to sleep when given an opportunity.  It still sort of boggles my mind.)  I was under the impression that I could impose my parental will upon a child and have him obey.  After all, I am bigger, stronger, older, wiser, etc.  Of course, I would be able to make a wee babe do what I want.  Ooh boy.  The fact that I am getting sleep in only two hour snippets each night attest to the power and force of the young and small. 

A person can have an idea about how they are going to parent their child, but it is all rather hypothetical until you actually have a child with an actual personality.  Then, faced with the reality of your situation, you think "Oh crap.  That method is SO not going to work with the baby that I have unless I want to break his soul."  And so you scratch all your preconceived notions and start from the beginning.  I don't know why this is such a revelation to me, but it is. 

My revelation, which is simple, basic, and embarrassingly intuitive sort of follows a proof-like reasoning:

1. Babies have personalities.  Very strong personalities.
2. All babies are different.
3. What works for one child does not mean it will work for another.
4. There is no cookie cutter method to solve your parental problems (see items one, two and three.)

The repercussion of this revelation: give other mothers some serious slack.  I have been doing some serious mental judging in an effort to make myself seem superior.

1 comment:

Jaimee said...

Ah yes... I think this is a realization that every parent has to come to at some point. I give you huge kuddos for starting to accept this now instead of needing to do it later down the line when your teenager is trying to communicate his unique personality to you. This is not an easy thing to figure out and I admit that I am working on it daily as my interests conflict with those of my children. There has not been a single instance where my child bent to my will when I tried to assert my "power." The only result has been tears, guilt, more tears, and the need to repair the damage done to our relationship (safety issues don't fall into this category). It certainly gives you new perspective when you see parents struggling with their kids in public. I make it a point to try and smile or send an encouraging, supportive look their way.

I've also had to tone down my fervor for natural parenting techniques. There were many points in my short parenting career where I was up on my high horse judging other moms for not doing even the simplest of things with their kids to improve their health or help out the environment. I've really had to let that go because, as you said, there is no cookie cutter method and what works for one family may not work for another.

All that being said, I still have issues judging other parents when they engage in parenting techniques that I simply cannot condone, but that are considered acceptable in our society. It's very easy to get a "holier than thou" attitude about these things, but I strongly feel that some "techniques" are basically neglect and child abuse dressed up in fancier clothes.


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