Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What my parenting looks like.

One of the great things about my husband's career is that I get to connect with a wide variety of women whom might otherwise not be a part of my life. Primarily, I am talking about my fellow basetwives. Each one has challenged me to think and expand my mind in different ways. Recently, I have begun reading the blog of Erin Crispin. While Erin and I are quite different and have never met in person, she has already been a positive influence in my life. Recently, she posted on Issues in Parenting. The post really has me thinking about how I would categorize my own positions on parenting and how my thoughts have changed from before I had a child until now. The road I often times started out on has changed (Co-sleeping, for example), and I think that is ok.

The first 15 topics were Erin’s. The ones at the end, I added.

1. Religion- Moderate. While I am a Christian and will educate my son on Christianity, I firmly believe that he needs to make the decision to accept Christ in to his heart on his own. As he ages, I will not discourage him from seeking or educating himself on alternatives, and honestly, Christianity is so broad that I will not guilt him in to choosing based on my own (well, mine and Kevin’s) choices.

2. Feeding- Liberal. I would probably re-title this breastfeeding or infant feeding, as nutrition is covered later. I’m going with it as is for now though. Not only am I a nursing mother, but I believe firmly in the benefits of nursing beyond one and encourage others to at least consider it. It’s no secret and is spread all over this blog. LOL! I’m also in favor of nursing in public and beginning solids with highly nutritious foods. We used one of those little mesh bag deals a lot instead of feeding a lot of store bought baby foods, and I was horrible about feeding The Boy cereal. Honestly, I have some rather strong thoughts on the introduction of “solids” (mush) rather than regular food, but that’s for another post some day.

3. Diapering- Moderate. I am a cloth diapering convert! I’ve written about our conversion to cloth, but am fighting Kevin on some occasions to use them. He doesn’t like poopy cloth diapers. If I had another child, I’d cloth from the start. I love them and don’t mind the laundry. That being said, long car trips and plane trips generally are met with the use of disposables. Or if I am flying and want to fit everything in to one suitcase, sometimes the cloth gets left behind. He also wears disposables at daycare due to our daycares policy.

4. Potty Training- Liberal. The Boy will use the potty when he is ready, and when he decides to do it, that is fine with me.

5. Sleeping- Moderate. I went with moderate, because, like Erin, I think a lot of children are sleep deprived, and as a parent it is my responsibility to ensure that my child is getting the sleep he needs. It also means making sure I get the sleep I need. That puts me on the conservative side, I think. However, in our family, to get that sleep and for other reasons, we co-sleep. I’m a fan of Dr. Sears and Attachment parenting (addressed later) and believe in the benefits of co-sleeping. (see link above) I also believe that like with other developmental milestones, The Boy will learn to sleep through the night, etc when he is ready.

6. Scheduling- Moderate. I believe that children do well with schedules, but everyone needs to be somewhat flexible. If The Boy wants to color now instead of read a book, no problem, but bed time is bed time, and nap time is nap time. Other than the RARE occasion, those are set in stone.

7. Television- Conservative. This is a source of disagreement between my husband and myself—not only for our son’s television watching, but for our own. I prefer no tv except for limited occasions (primarily sporting events), while he likes to have the tv on non-stop. Before Kevin came home from Lebanon, The Boy was watching 20 minutes a week (so on Saturday’s I could talk to Kevin on the video conference). However, since Kevin has been home, The Boy has watched more TV. I think I have Kevin on board with limiting it, but he still probably watches a total of an hour a week and only shows we have previewed.

8. Schooling- Moderate. This one is tough, because The Boy is not a preschooler yet, and Kevin and I come from very different backgrounds. I think everyone knows, but Kevin was homeschooled, while I went to a small town public school. At this point, we don’t think homeschooling is for us. I see the benefits of both situations (public and home school). That being said, if we continue to live in our current home, we will probably be sending The Boy to private school. Why private? Primarily, because I believe in child-lead learning and most private schools are better set up to deal with that philosophy than public schools.

9. Vaccines- Moderate. This is one of those if I knew then what I know now, I would have done it differently deals. I’ve said so on this blog, and hold true to that opinion. The Boy is on the regular US schedule, but if I were starting over, he’d be on a delayed and staggered schedule. I saw an interview with a CDC doctor that put me over the edge. To sum up my thoughts on his statements, the way the testing is done certainly is not optimization and the cumulative impacts of multiple vaccines are barely addressed.

10. Circumcision- Moderate. I made Kevin decide, but if I were making the decision, I’d say no. Kevin said yes.

11. Allowances- Liberal. I think. The Boy does not get an allowance yet, but I do believe that allowances are a crucial part of learning financial management. I don’t think that his receipt of allowances will be tied to work, because the work will be expected with or without the financial reward. We are a family, and with that comes certain responsibilities.

12. Family Size- Conservative/Liberal/Something? This is hard to pin down, because I’m not sure what is the liberal and what is the conservative position once you move beyond birth control. When it comes to birth control for my body, I don’t like hormonal methods. I have not given too much thought to surgical intervention at this point either (tubes for me, snipping for Kevin) other than a few off-hand and in hind-sight in poor taste jokes. However, outside of my own family, in the big picture, I think each family needs to chose for themselves and it is not the place of government, doctors or pharmacists to limit access to birth control. So, personally, I suppose I am conservative, but as far as deciding for society, I am liberal (because I refuse to decide for society). Beyond birth control, and taking away unintended/unwanted pregnancy discussion (which is vital, but I need to simplify for the sake of this summary), each family needs to decide what they can afford, the life they want, and what they want to offer the child or children. This means looking at the big picture-- not just your own home. I do believe that there is an environmental footprint for each person on this earth, and we do need to decide responsibly based on a variety of impacts and personal beliefs. For us that means once child right now. We are open to reconsidering at a later point, but for now one.

13. Discipline- Liberal. I think this one is obscure as well. As an attachment parenting family, I do not believe in hitting my child. I was spanked. I turned out fine, I suppose. Ha ha. However, I prefer gentle discipline, which at The Boy’s current age means identifying teaching opportunities and modeling appropriate behavior. I do not want him to hit me, so I do not hit him. However, if he does something life threatening, we do use time out, which has been highly effective in our home. It’s taken some patience on my part—both in dealing with The Boy and convincing my husband that this is the way to go—but it has been worth it. Overall, we praise positive behavior and discuss poor behavior. So far it has worked. Also, I should point out that my own short temper has helped me to make this decision, because it forces me to maintain my control. I’m not saying others spank when angry, but rather that I fear I might lose control and spank too hard or inappropriately. I hope that makes sense without making me sound like a true uncontrollable hot head.

14. Nutrition- Conservatively Liberal. Ha ha. OK, I couldn’t decide if my strict nature makes it conservative, or the fact that we are primarily an organic foods, careful about what we put in our body, family makes us liberal. Junk food and sweets are a treat, but as a whole, we avoid HFCS, eat limited amounts of meat, have steered primarily to raw and whole foods. My goal is to model and teach that other foods need to be consumed sparingly, but definitely consumed, but our primary foods need to be high quality. Also, while some people tout the benefits of cow’s milk, we consume it sparingly, and do not use it as a “cure all” food. In other words, we get the vitamins and minerals from other foods, so cow’s milk is not used to fill the gaps.

15. Pacifier- No true opinion. The Boy refused a pacifier. I think it was in part due to my delay in introducing it, because I wanted to make sure our breastfeeding relationship was well established and reduce the potential for nipple confusion, but he wouldn’t do anything but chew on it. Even to this day, we have two in the house, and he will take one to chew on for a bit, but that’s it. That being said, due to the problems with development (teeth, jaw, etc), I’d prefer that he didn’t take one anyway. It’s another of those things I changed my mind on after having my own child, but I don’t think that every parent should refuse to give their child a paci.

16. Weaning- Liberal. I believe in child lead weaning and gentle weaning techniques. As for timing, at least a year is important. Like my position on feeding, this position, I think, is documented elsewhere on this blog.

17. Commercialism in Childhood—Conservative. I think children are exposed too young and too often to commercialization. It is everywhere. As such, we buy (and have others purchase when asked for gift suggestions) primarily non-commercialized toys. Wood toys, Haba, Melissa and Doug, etc. Creativity is everything!

18. Vitamins and supplements—liberal. I believe that even for children supplements need to be whole food and not chemically derived. Flintstone vitamins and other such items are not in our best interest and not a part of our home. I continually reevaluate The Boy’s eating habits and offer him a variety of foods to prevent the use of supplements. I, however, do take a whole food derived vitamin due to my own limited appetite and dietary shortfalls.

19. Medicine—Liberal. Liberal, not because I dose up my son, but because I generally go for natural remedies and alternative medicine first, and then if they do not work, I look in to more traditional medicines. This means use of chiropractic care, herbs, etc. I also believe that fevers occur for a reason and are the body’s way of treating itself, so unless The Boy is struggling to get the sleep he needs to heal, we allow fevers to run their course. That being said, he has tubes in his ears, and his adenoids were removed. Sometimes medical intervention is necessary.

18. Overall parenting style—Liberal. I am a big fan of attachment parenting and its benefits, which I think shows in my previous answers, but I thought it deserved its own category. Attachment parenting principles guide our life as a family. This means I respond to my child’s needs—physical and emotion—when he needs it. I treat him with respect. I am present in his every day life—not just physically in the same room, but we interact with one another. My love is not conditional, and I am mindful of the balance necessary between my work and my family.

So that is where I am, and where we are, as a family. Often times, ok…usually, I write “I,” because Kevin is not physically there to make family decisions while he plays abroad, which means sometimes I have to decide for our family, but overall, we are committed to a loving happy household and a lifelong marriage, and this is where we are with parenting.

Where are you with your own parenting? Do you have thoughts or want clarification on my post?


Anonymous said...

Wanted to agree with you about good quality toys from Haba, et al. Haba has been a big hit in our house.

If anyone is interested, we fould a great toy store that sells haba: Landbridge Toys.


The best customer service (its owned and operated by a mom).


Maria said...

thanks for the store tip Melissa. I like to check out new places, especially smaller businesses. I'm a big fan of ecobaby in Tulsa, as well as Oompatoys.com, but am willing to branch out! :)

katandkarl said...

good post!

Erin said...

Love it! Thanks for the rgeat post and giving me some mroe to think about:) Some of your clarifying points were excellent as well. You are great, Maria!

Trannyhead said...

That cereal is absolutely disgusting. I have a theory - I refuse to make my kid eat anything that I wouldn't eat, and that cereal stuff certainly classifies as something i wouldn't eat. *gag* I went straight to applesauce.

ChristinaG said...

You know that I follow attachment parenting and agree with basically everything you say (except we're using disposables only).

Re: food, I think the German baby food is way better than the stuff in the US. That being said, if he can eat what we're eating, that's what we give him.

Re: structure, I am just not a structured person and can't get myself to follow a schedule. I don't know if this is bad for Oliver, but he seems okay with it.

mama said...

"I saw an interview with a CDC doctor that put me over the edge."

where can i see this interview?

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