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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Am I Parenting Wrong? Wait, Don't Answer That...

Are you ‘parenting’ wrong?  

Ask around for advice on anything from potty training to how much juice is too much, and you’ll get lots of people assuring you.  

Assuring you that you are, in fact, DOING IT ALL WRONG.

Heck, you don’t even have to ask.  Just show up in public with the kiddo’s and you’ll get LOTS of solutions to problems you didn’t even realize you had.

Unbeknownst to me I am engaging in a controversial parenting style.  

I call it, ‘Treating Kids Like They’re Human Beings.’  You can call it whatever you like, but the term thrown around these days is ‘attachment’ parenting style.  Most people think I'm nuts and doing it all wrong and I know because THEY TELL ME.  Not that I ask...

In any case, Bill lets me take the lead on this because, well, I'm with them 89% of the time. 

I happened across an article about attachment parenting though and apparently I’m doing THAT all wrong too.  For example, I learned you aren’t supposed to use strollers, ever, and breastfeeding until they’re kindergarden age?  No thanks. 

It is clear though, that this is the style my heart bends toward.  If he’s crying, I’ll pick him up.  (Who can resist comforting a crying baby!?  WHO I ask you!?)

Is it not in every cell of your body to reach down to that adorable, blubbering mess with the outstretched arms and cuddle him close?  

There have been a few times where he’s fussed a little but I was busy with Ellie, or just about done washing the dishes and I didn’t get to him right away, and he stopped fussing and played quietly for another couple of minutes.  I’m assuming no lasting damage is being done in these instances and chalk it up to ‘that’s life’.

I am still breast feeding at 9 months because it’s still working for both of us.  He loves it and frankly, I enjoy it too.  There’s almost no better feeling than when he snuggles up to nurse.

Except when he’s done eating, and he leans back and looks me in the eye and grins like, ‘You're alright, I'll keep you around a little longer lady'.  

He is happier when I carry him in the carrier verses the stroller.  And he does wake up a lot at night still, probably not because he’s hungry but because he wants comforted.  

Ellie went through this too and she sleeps through the night like a champ now, and has since she was about a year and a half old.  No sleep training required.  I didn’t always feed her, or pick her up even at night-time wakings, but if she was crying more than a whimper or two I’d go in and rub her back, put the pacey back in.  Basically assuring her I was there even if we weren’t in the same room anymore. 

Not that it’s all golden.  She IS anxious when we separate and IS very attached to me.  She HAS started throwing tantrums every-time she doesn’t get her way.  

And I mean, EVERY TIME lately.  (I WANTED BLUEBERRIES.  NOT STRAWBERRIES!!! WAHHHHH...)   Cue end-of-the-world level hysterics.  And I do mean hysterics. 

But I think this stage would have happened no matter what ‘style’ of parenting I adopt.  She needs to go through this pushing of boundaries to know what’s acceptable behavior and what isn’t.

When she’s rude, we redirect her.  When she’s having a tantrum, she doesn’t get what she wants.  

It’s pretty simple.  Painful, but necessary.

She IS anxious about new situations and people and that's slowly getting better.  Again, that could be ALL MY FAULT and because I hugged her when she cried and picked her up when she was scared.  Or it could be just her baseline.  She's emotional.

Benji is already showing a more easy-going personality.  I can't see the future but no matter how my kids turn out I'm going to feel like it's my fault for every gap and misstep.  So, I might as well follow my heart, and then I know I screwed up, but I screwed up with all the love, compassion, and faith in myself that I could muster. 

My goals in parenting have always been simple.  I want my kids to be useful, productive, happy, and above all, not an asshole.  I want them to be kind, too, and compassionate and empathetic.  But mostly, I just want them NOT TO BE ASSHOLES.

The world has enough of them, yah?

“Having children is a lot like living in a frat house - nobody sleeps, everything’s broken and there’s a lot of throwing up.”  Ray Ramano