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.

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Posted on May 12, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Ummm, that is HORRIBLE. I agree, for the most part, what works for each family is their “right way,” but that, in my opinion, is too much.

  2. Oh this sounds really hard, all around. I also try and be open about how people parent, but when it starts impacting you and your relationship with your kid, it’s another beast entirely. I’m kind of in the middle of breaking up with a long time friend as well (though for very different reasons) and it just sucks.
    But, also. . . I was a thumb sucker. Like, til I was 10. And maybe it was just my personality but nothing, and I do mean nothing, my parents tried worked. They never taped my thumb to my hand (that sounds really awful) but if they had, I can all but guarantee I would have figured out how to break out of it – even if it caused me pain, and that is why I’m sad for that little.

  3. So, so hard! In a similar situation with a queer-friend-family that I’m beginning to think is pro-spanking. Nothing we’ve witnessed or they’ve said to us in person, but comments they’ve made on FB that hint at it. Is it possible that our friendship with them – a listening ear, real-life examples of a different way to react in frustrating situations, starting up safe conversations with them – would influence them away from spanking? Or is that unrealistic and maybe a bit arrogant too? I feel almost guilty “breaking up” with them, like I’m abandoning their kids instead of being a positive presence in their lives. And other than child-rearing differences, they are awesome friends! Which is hard for an introvert to give up. But the child-rearing differences are huge (CIO, push gender norms, lots of tv from day 1 & junk food at 4!!! months, forward face at a year, etc) and I would definitely freak out on them if I witnessed any corporeal punishment, which is a situation I don’t want to be in (or have my kids in).

    Seriously though, why is “s/he just wants attention” such a (negative) thing? What is so wrong about our kids (especially babies & toddlers!) needing attention & communicating that through whatever ways they know how? And something to be punished, instead of a need that we then fill. It seems like our culture is so adamant to refuse attention to people who really need it, starting with our youngest, like our job as parents is to teach our kids how not to be “inconvenient” or bothersome. 😦

  4. I’m from a really small town in PA, and I know just what you mean about people parenting differently where you’re from vs. your style of parenting. It’s the same for me.

    As for the thumb thing…Yikes. That sounds REALLY cruel. But I don’t think there’s a whole lot you can do or say, apart from distancing yourself from them. Sucks so much.

  5. As I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed that lots of relationships/friendships that I’ve had have sort of fizzled out, mainly because we moved to different parts of the country, learned different thing, have different life experiences and what not. We grow, sometimes together and sometimes apart. That may just be the case with you and L&J. They are different than you, and that’s ok (although, taping the thumb is EXTREME!) i sucked my thumb till I was about 16 ( and sometimes I still do, like when I’m super anxious) and never had braces, so it’s hit or miss. But their parenting style is different, and that’s ok, infuriating, but ok. You’re parenting style may be a little too “passive” as some of my friends say about us…it’s what works best. It sucks losing those friendships. But in my own experience, sometimes it needs to happen, and you’re better off because of it. I hope it all gets sorted out, but you’re doing awesome by Gus and he knows it…that’s all that matters really

  6. I think that if you truly can’t get past their parenting choices, you should let the friendship go. I’ve had to let a friendship go over parenting stuff, I realized I thought my friend was a bad person and spent most of my time talking shit about her behind her back. If you’re not to that point, maybe you can start a conversation about different ways to stop thumb sucking (or whatever the current issue may be). You know it’s all in the delivery, you can bring up that neat plastic shield someone else used to stop their kid from sucking their thumb. Otherwise, I would just let the friendship fizzle out.

  7. I think it is often a culminatin of these small things (although for the record I don’t think taping the thumb or spanking are small things). So, for example, K used to have these friends that let their kids eat a lot of crap and watch a lot of TV. Nothing cruel and unusual, but just not how we parent. We figured we would just stay out of it. But then there was a multi-family vacation with all the kids, and all of a sudden our kids were saying it was so UNFAIR and we are so STRICT, etc. So we thought, ok, just no more vacations. And these little things keep adding up and adding up until eventually, you’re just not that close anymore. It’s sad, though. K still misses that friend, but it’s so awkward to get the kids together, and also awkward to say, “Oh yes, we’d love to get together, but could you please not bring your kids and neither will we.”

  8. Kim and I have a lot of different “non-crunchy” parenting techniques than a lot of my other mom friends, or my blog friends for that matter. I figure, to each their own. I think if you really can’t get over the differences, then the friendship should end. It sucks, but it’s less likely to cause drama and awkwardness for all parties involved. If you really want to keep the friendship, maybe a little gentle suggestions of other things to do. I tend to distance myself from people who I feel are judging me for my own parenting style or who I feel I am judging for theirs. I don’t like the feeling, so I just cut ties.

  9. It is so hard. We are the only “crunchy, ap” parents we know. People think we are weird, we think they are weird. Luckily no big issues have come up like that yet. I did see that my step-sister has my 3 year old nephew in a booster seat though. Yikes. Friend breakups can be hard, but I’m with K, you usually just drift apart, especially once there are kids in the picture.

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