To a point.

Lesley and I were having a conversation about co-sleeping the other day and I told her about this mad impressive bed I had seen on facebook.

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When I found it the next day I posted it on her facebook wall. The reaction from a few people, Lesley included, is that co-sleeping is okay – to a point.

I see the reaction to breastfeeding. While I haven’t heard it yet I know it is coming. Gus is one now and I have no plans to wean him. I don’t know when I will. I don’t know that I will nurse him until he is four but honestly I don’t know that I won’t. The reactions I see to breastfeeding are similar to that of co-sleeping: It’s great – to a point.

A few weeks ago I was out for a walk with Gus and the dog. I had Gus in the Tula and a woman commented that he’s getting too big for mom to carry everywhere. Because carrying your baby is okay – to a point.

I’ve been thinking a lot about entitlement. About how someone thinks it is okay to shoot other people. And I think some of it is our culture that teaches us we are special. We get participation ribbons as an award for showing up. We hold ourselves as better than others – we propose building walls to keep out our neighbors and refuse to help people who are packing onto boats because the sea is safer than the land. We believe we are better, individually and collectively.

And when that is the case why is meeting my child’s emotional needs okay only to a point? Why is making him feel safe and secure bad? I believe the parenting decisions we make are right for us because I want him to feel safe and secure so we can deal with the hard stuff. So we can talk through his feelings good and bad. I want him to be able to make decisions about his world and be there to support him when he feels bad. I want him to know disappointment and sadness and to learn how to cope with those things. And sometimes coping will involve my bed, boobs, or arms.

I think people argue that this style of parenting makes kids less independent. Those people have never met Gus. In all fairness, he is away from us during the work week but he has one on one care at childcare. Gus is fiercely independent and thriving. My hope is to nurture his emotional needs so that continues.

I was talking to a friend about taking a vacation this summer with us, them, and a third family. The problem is my friend and I have some issues with family three that make me want to have a limited interaction with them. They’re not bad parents but they’re not great ones either. My biggest complaint is that they do nothing to meet their kids’ emotional needs. They don’t pick up their baby when she cries. They don’t let their 3 year old make any decisions for herself. They punish the 3 year old when she is upset. Those things don’t work for me. And that’s okay. I bet a lot of our decisions do not work for her. I bet she looks at some of the stuff that we do and thinks it’s all okay – to a point. Maybe the difference between parents is really just where that point is.

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Posted on October 8, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. I’m still nursing Evelyn but I don’t talk about it on my social media channels because I just don’t want the judgements that come with it, and I know there are plenty. People probably think I’m doing it for me at this point (that’s a thing people say, right?) when that couldn’t be further from the truth.

    I don’t think I’d want a lot of interaction with a family like the one you mentioned. I know people parent differently than me and whatever works for them, more power to them. But not meeting your child’s emotional needs just doesn’t seem like a parenting style so much as it does neglect.

    • I really wish that people who believe nursing until natural term is about mama would nurse a toddler. Gus’ latch changed a lot when he got teeth and more often than not nursing is making my skin crawl. This is so NOT about me.
      We refer to our friends as “detachment parents”. I’m not sure what to do about it as a whole as we live far away so don’t need a huge friendship ending thing but I also don’t see it continuing.

  2. When something doesn’t feel like a right fit for someone, many times they will generalize that thought/feeling and apply it to being not right for anyone period. I think that with any parenting decision we have to just be aware of whose needs are we meeting. Ours or our child’s? If I swoop in to help him is it because he really needs my help or because it will be easier or faster or I don’t like seeing him get upset? That’s something I know I have to resist. I have a completely neutral opinion about co-sleeping, I do not know if there is any correlation to whatever it is people against co-sleeping think is negative for the child’s development. Children have full rich lives, they will develop independence and learn about the world through play mainly- I doubt sleep situation will affect it much if that is what people against it are saying. Maybe they assume that if a family co-sleeps the parents are automatically helicopter parents, but that’s an over-assumption. Your last sentence is so true, I hope that more people can see that as a positive thing.

    • Oh and as an aside, as a social worker who treated abused and neglected children in therapy I’ve seen the effects of poor attachment on children (and into adulthood), so loving your child, being attuned to his needs, and cuddling with him at night is not going to do any harm. Just from the attachment perspective there are three types secure, avoidant, and ambivalent. There is no overly attached category, although who knows what terms pop-psychology has out there nowadays.

    • Your point about swooping in when he is upset is so true. I think that’s hard for people to handle. Gus climbs in this chair in our house and stands in it. My MIL was in town from out of state last week and watched him for a day and said something about how she spent all day keeping him out of the chair. I was so confused and ask why. She said he might fall – Yeah, he might. And he has once out of the 500 times he has stood in the chair. He’s also gotten really good at learning how to climb off things appropriately. I think that we’re all trying to find ways to help our kiddos through their lives and it would be nice if people realized my parenting decisions are about my child, not other parents.

  3. I so far haven’t heard negative comments about me still breastfeeding. My mom said things in the first year and the doctors tried to push me to give formula. It helps that now we only nurse at home for naps and bedtime. I remember nursing in public outside somewhere and thinking “wow, it’s been a while since we did this.” I’d say some family would have negative thoughts but so far no one has said anything because I rarely see them.

    Speaking of family, I foresee the one you mentioned being an issue like your family was here. If it will put a damper on your vacation, don’t go with them. You might be able to handle them in short bursts but not a whole vacation.

    As for independence and my breastfeeding, cosleeping, and only just stopped wearing him 2 1/2 year old… he gets himself dressed, is fully day potty trained, feeds himself, talks in full sentences, plays indepentently inside and outside, and was perfectly fine being left with my dad, my aunt, L, and our friend to babysit him.

    • Yeah, I rarely nurse in public. We’re at nap, bedtime, and overnight mostly and also Gus is so all over the place that it just ends up being a disaster to nurse in public.
      It’s hard with our friends because we don’t have much basis for how bad it will be other than just knowing. When we say them this past summer stuff was hard for us to see but there is stuff that they do that I won’t want done in front of Gus when he is old enough to understand (I freaking hate sending kids to the corner) and they’re a bit of a pain. Lesley’s perspective is that even though we all know this will be miserable we have to do it so next time we can give the reason why it was miserable.

  4. This post struck a chord with me today. I was recently told my Cherish’s family that I spoil the baby because I pick him too often rather than letting him fuss about and become dependent. I couldn’t help but think of all the reasons that is wrong. You’ve state most of them, and the Becca’s comment above me is exactly true. I have seen the first hand effects of neglected children and the detachment issues they carry with them into adulthood. There was a series the other night I watched on tv about infants and responding to their cries. It’s absolutely necessary and human nature. This is something people are trying to diminish by making this “independent” infants. Since when are infants dependent beings anyways? Just doesn’t make sense to me. It’s our jobs to nurture our children, wether it be nursing, co sleeping, responding quickly to a baby in distress. I will cut out anyone very quickly that says anything about my attached parenting. I especially look at Cherish’s sisters children (one of the ones that thinks I spoil my children) and she doesn’t even hug them let alone respond to their emotions properly. It’s not how I want my children to be raised. I want to cuddle and sleep with children for as long as they will let me. It works for us!

  5. I meant “independent” In a few words!

  6. I wish we could all parent without judgement.

  7. This is a great post! I really like the idea of everyone having a different ‘point’ where they start/stop stuff. Even though I know every kid and family is different, and I really want to be one of those open minded, non judgmental people, I sometimes have a hard time with where another person’s ‘point’ is. I keep my opinion to myself though, because I don’t really care how other people raise their kids.

    • I don’t really care how other people raise their kids – exactly. As long as they don’t do shitting things around my kid then whatever.

      • So far, we haven’t had much pop up in front of Ali, but none of our friends are into spanking or yelling. I know things will come up in the future as she gets older, especially with the cousins who at little hellions. We will probably use those issues as teaching moments, once she can understand that kind of stuff.

  8. I love this. It’s so true. Every family has a line they don’t cross. Problems arise when someone tries to draw a line for other families. My mother-in-law is just the worst about drawing lines for everyone else and we have to tell her constantly to stay in her own damn lane.

    I wish everyone stayed in their own damn lane.

    As for the bed- that is a really solid IKEA hack. I would make this for the kids and shove them all in one room together. 😉

  9. J showed me that bed the other day too. It seems pretty awesome, if only our room wasn’t so tiny.

    I can so relate to this whole post though. J’s mom told me she hoped I wouldn’t be breastfeeding M when baby #2 comes along (I had mentioned being able to tandem nurse). I have friends that started asking me how long I was going to breastfeed when he was less than 9 months old. I’m sure the co-sleeping judgements will come soon.

    I totally get the vacation dilemma. That would be hard for me. A while ago I asked J what, if anything, we would do if any of our friends spanked their kids (in front of us or our kids). It was an interesting convo for sure. For me it’s not necessarily about judging their parenting choices, but what I am willing and not willing to teach M is ok, both by what we do and say and by what we don’t say as well. It’s complicated. I agree with what Molly said though and loved the mantra from Amy Poehler’s book, “great for her, not for me “

  10. I totally get this! I wear my babies still because they need it, I need it, it works for us. Period.

    I do not cosleep any longer and on the nights that it happens I generally regret every second of it because no one sleeps well. I wish cosleeping was more of an option. It used to be so wonderful with Dylan. I’d love for the kids to co sleep though, I think it’d be a great comfort for them.

    As far as the vacation, I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s not worth your time, money, effort to go on a vacation where you can’t enjoy yourself.

  11. This is such a great post. Callie and I were having a similar situation about breastfeeding yesterday. I didn’t get a chance to breastfeed the boys the way I wanted to. I just didn’t produce any milk. I said that I was going to breastfeed this baby for as long as I could, and I got a glimpse of a callie that I wasn’t to happy with. “Not past 1, you aren’t!” Uh, excuse me?!?! The hell I won’t! So an argument ensued about what is “appropriate” and what isn’t. I have a friend who tandem nurses her 3 year old and her 18month old, and Callie is seriously repulsed by it, 1) because she has issues with breasts in general and 2) because she thinks that nursing a 3 year old is crossing the line. I said to her, maybe that’s because our society sexualizes breasts and doesn’t see them for them intended purpose, feeding our young! In other cultures people will nurse their kids until their kids don’t want to nurse anymore. And she says, “yeah, less privilege people in 3rd world countries without access to the luxuries we have!” WOW! I lost my shit! Like totally lost it! Why is it that as American, like you say, we feel like we are just “too good” for that stuff…boils my blood…needless to say, I’ll nurse this baby, with MY body, for however long we damn well please!

    • Oh I ❤ you. I think it is different when you have a nursling. I know it didn't work with the boys and I wonder if some of Callie's reaction is because of how she might feel about that (not to put negative feelings on her). Lesley said that before having Gus she would have thought that nursing a three year old was totally weird and been put off by it. But with Gus here she sees how it is something he relies on and how terrible it would be to wean him at this point and would never suggest it. She had a similar response about the cosleeping bed – while that is nothing something she wants if Gus desperately wanted to be in bed with us at all she would start ikea hacking because she would do anything (within reason) to make him happy.

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