Black and white or a bit of grey
It is no secret that I have strong opinions. This post will touch on 90% of the hot issues of parenting. Consider yourself warned.
I’ve always had strong opinions but getting pregnant and having a baby has made a lot of my parenting opinions stronger. Now there are plenty of things on my “I said I never would and instead do it all the time” list but there are also plenty of things that I am set on and opinionated about. I’ve noticed lately that I no longer talk about/respond to group posts about breastfeeding. I feel strongly about breastfeeding but as I am no longer doing it I just leave that space for other folks to discuss. There are other things that I feel strongly about but don’t discuss. Circumcision is a perfect example. I speak out on circumcision whenever anyone asks for opinions but I normally stay pretty quiet about it. If I find out a friend is having a boy I might say, “I’d be happy to talk about our experience with leaving our son intact” but I leave it at that. These two things, two big issues of conflict in the parenting community, fade away as kids grow.
As fast as those fade out I am finding new ones fading in. In the past couple of days I have been reading a lot of mom group posts about spanking and time outs. There is a lesbian mom group I am in where people recently discussed on a thread how effecting spanking is in their family. To be honest, I was blown away. I am very anti spanking. I’m not going to list my reasons here because either you know and agree with them or don’t and don’t care and that is what it is. But it was shocking to me to see so many people in favor of it. I am also very anti the traditional time out model. I think there are a lot of things that people consider time out that not sitting in the corner with your nose to the wall for a set number of minutes but there are folks who do that to which is mainly what I take issue with. In groups people talk about that being effective for them. One woman mentioned that she is anti time out but when she upset her daughter recently her daughter said, “mama go to the corner!” and she realized that her daughter’s daycare did time out. But it is a great daycare…
I think about the controversial issues of early parenthood and how they fade out and these new issues and how they are going to stick around much longer. And then I realized that the next step is navigating friendships with these issues. After our New York trip went bust our friends from Michigan talked about coming to see us. It didn’t work out as they could come the same time Lesley’s mom is coming and that was a huge relief to us. One of the reasons why is because I know they are not on the same page as we are with these issues. I know that because we have known each other for a long time and I’ve seen them parent and heard them talked. I felt like we dodged a bullet by not having to deal with it.
I always think we’ll be fine because we live in this hippie utopia but then I realize that people here, people we know, think differently than we do. People all parent differently. And we are now at a time where these things will come up. That makes me twitchy.
The other night Lesley was putting Gus to bed. He has been a completely bear to get down lately and she had a migraine. She was trying to go the distance with him and sat on the floor next to his bed, rubbing her eyes. He looked at her and said, “Mama sad? Mama crying?” It was the first time we have heard him identify an emotion. He knew she was upset and was concerned. This makes this idea of navigating different parenting styles on the forefront of my mind – he senses it, he worries, and I don’t want him to be in a situation where he sees kids punished for struggling with their emotions.
So I am left wondering how these things are navigated. What is black and white and what is a grey area? What do we let go and what do we stand up to? Everyone parents differently and the standard rhetoric is to do what works for you. But what happens when what works for other people is something that does not work for me to have Gus around?