Right and Wrong
Something I am working on as a parent is understanding that for the most part there is no right. Sure, there are things that are 100% wrong but for the most part everyone is doing what works best for them and doing the best they can with the knowledge they have. I try to be mindful of this in my professional life – most of my clients do things very differently than we do and that’s okay – what they are doing is okay.
But as hard as I try I am struggling with this a lot in my personal life today. Bear with me, if you’d like, and follow along.
Lesley and I are your typical hippie parents. We are “attachment parents” or “crunchy mamas” or whatever term you may like. Gus will wean from my boobs whenever he wants, he will extended rear face in his car seat, we are cloth diapering, baby wearing, coconut oil using hippies. I can go on and on about this but I’m guessing you get it. I (and really, we) have two sets of best friends for over ten years: E and K (a couple, three older children, tiny baby J – E blogs over at gaybymakessix – and L and J who have two daughters e (note the small e to clear up confusion) and h. e is almost 3, h is 2 months or so.
L and J live in the midwest town we moved from. We do not see them often but talk regularly. They are very different parents than us. As soon as e hit 14 pounds they put her in her room, shut the door, and just let her cry. This is something I am adamantly against. They switched e forward facing in the car at a year despite the APA recommendation of 2 years. e watches a lot of tv and eats a lot of junk food and overall we’re just different people and they serve as a good reminder of why we left the midwest.
Today J posted on facebook about how e is sucking her thumb. They tried to paint it with the bad nail polish and it didn’t do anything so their next step is taping her thumb to her hand. TAPING HER THUMB TO HER HAND. She is not even three years old! They do not want to pay for braces and she is just doing this for attention – those are J’s arguments.
I am so appalled by this. First, she is not even 3. Second, she has a new baby sister and is adjusting to that. Third, I have a really hard time with adults taking control of children’s bodies and not teaching them that their body is their own. I think this is cruel. I think this is completely wrong. I really am totally horrified.
Now, I should mention that sometimes J makes big statements to be dramatic so there is a chance that this is not happening. But in talking with Lesley and E, Lesley, E, K, and I all think this is happening.
I honestly don’t even know how to deal with this. We will see L and J and the girls this summer and I don’t know how to even look at them. I also imagine that this is not the end of these issues. J is pro spanking and if they ever hit their children or threaten to hit their children in front of Gus that will be it. There will likely be other issues that come up before then.
E asked K how to deal with this. (K is a touch older and has more parenting hours clocked than the rest of us.) K said you stop being friends with them. She said first you like someone and start a friendship. Then you find partners and your partners and you like each other and you all are friends. And then you all have kids and your kids have to like each other and your friends can’t do things as parents that you think are awful and if all these things happen you can keep being friends. Otherwise, it just stops.
So I don’t know what will happen. I don’t know that we will continue being friends after ten plus years of friendship. I am struggling with this because I’ve long suspected this would happen when we all had kids but I always thought it would be one big event that ended it and instead I am realizing that it might just be a culmination of small things that eventually end this friendship. And I try to think about if I am overreacting and then I think about that sweet little girl whose parents don’t care about her emotional needs and I just get enraged.