Thankfulness Project, Day 22
November 22, 2011, Tuesday
I'm so very thankful for snow- soft, tiny bits of clouds that spread a silent white blanket over sleeping cities so that we can wake to a winter wonderland. Well...that and steam fresh pasta. 5 minutes to a meal my kids will eat.
Touchy Topic Tuesday:
I'm Right and You're Wrong. MY parenting is better than YOUR parenting!
If you know me at all, you know I have strong opinions. I have a certain way I do things, and I want to be left to do them that way.
Generally speaking, I have a strict "no judgement" policy for myself. I don't judge moms in the store whose kids are throwing fits, or whose 5 year olds have pacifiers. Unless the guy full on beats his child in front of me, I don't assume that the father who, in line at checkout, tells his kid to stand THERE, don't TOUCH anything, and BE QUIET, is abusive, neglecting his child, or has otherwise, as one dad blogger put it "broke" his kid. (http://www.danoah.com/2010/09/you-just-broke-your-child.html) - BECAUSE I'VE BEEN THERE! I have been the mom with a normally sweet and well behaved child freaking out because she can't ride in the cart, or I told him he couldn't have that 22 dollar toy. I had a son who had his pacifier until he was almost 2 because we moved twice and his father spent 6 months away at a tech school in another state, and he took it hard and in the midst of it, I felt it was cruel to take away a source of comfort at the same time. And how the heck does someone know, when they've seen a parent and child for a total of 5 minutes, exactly what is going on? I'm sure there's a "perfect" mom's blog post out there about me and my kids because somewhere, in some line, after a long day and my kid (or multiple kids) simply WOULD NOT stop asking for something, even though I'd said "no" twelve times, and COULDN'T keep his hands off of EVERYTHING in the store, and absolutely REFUSED just stand there for TWO MORE MINUTES while I finished running a necessary errand. It's certainly easy for a dad who only has his kid every other weekend to have a bleeding heart about a little boy who "just wants a little ice cream." - Guess what? Parenthood, for MOST of us, isn't just a whole bunch of fun and games and excellent bonding experiences over chocolate vanilla twists with bubblegum on top. If a parent was hitting their child, would I call authorities? You bet. If someone was swearing profusely at their child or calling them extremely hurtful names, would I call authorities? You bet. But a swift spank on the bottom when a kid is out of line is NOT abuse, and while it's probably not appropriate, a mom shrieking "What's wrong with you!" when her kid knocks over an entire stack of oranges after she tells him calmly three times to PLEASE stay by the cart is also probably pretty innocent. The point is, you don't know ANYTHING from watching a parent for two isles in a store. There are hundreds of ways to correctly and effectively raise a healthy, successful child, and pretty much, if it's not your kid, it's not your business.
But I digress.
I am a fairly seasoned parent as far as infants go. I have successfully helped four of them survive past the newborn stage, and three of them are now in school. With every pregnancy, I obsessed over parenting articles, books, studies, procedures and so on. I pretty much have decided the best things for me and my family with my first child- everything I've read since has simply solidified my decisions. I have had epidurals with all four of my babies. I have ASKED for early induction with two of my children. I have had all of my babies sleeping through the night by 6 weeks. I vaccinate fully and on time. I give my babies pacifiers, and it doesn't bother me in the slightest that my oldest daughter sucks her thumb at night. I have breastfed some of my children, and I have not breastfed others. I believe the "family bed" is dangerous, and I put my babies on their backs to sleep in their own cribs. I feed them solids much earlier than is recommended, and I spank. I have circumcised both my boys and no, I don't think it is anything NEAR worthy of comparing to female circumcision.
Speaking of circumcision (no, this is not the topic today), a discussion on the matter is exactly what inspired my topic.
Now, it has come to my attention that, generally, when a mother (particularly those who participate in online parenting forums- you all know my trainwreck relationship with them.) feels strongly about a topic, anyone who has a different opinion on the subject is simply misinformed and, surely, if they had all the information, they would change their mind. Of course, that mother will inevitably feel that it is her duty to supply the information. If the mother she is trying to convince insists that she has read enough information and discussed the situation with her pediatrician (since, heaven forbid any parent make any decision at all without the consent of her child's doctor) and feels it is the best decision for her family, the dutiful mother will find ways to shoot down all the information the mother in question read, and also point out that doctors don't know everything, and that they prescribe medications and suggest formulas because they get kickbacks and favor mutilating surgeries such as circumcision for the simple fact that it makes them more money- so, in conclusion, a mother can't even trust a medical physician because they're out to get her AND her child. (And half of them think that there's a conspiracy doctors employ. They lecture regularly about not letting baby boy out of your sight lest the nurses circumcise him without your permission because they feel it's what's best. Having had to sign dozens of release forms and verbally give permission to several different people, I can assure you that's not true.) BUT, of course, if HER pediatrician supports her decision NOT to circumcise, he is, surely, enlightened.
Now, circumcision was the conversation that bloomed into this Touchy topic Tuesday and it wasn't the act itself. In fact, I guess one could say that it was ear piercing that really started the whole thing. Apparently, putting two tiny holes in a little girls ears without her express permission is mutilation, and irreparable, it seems. (Tell that to my ears that have been pierced three times!)
The conversation that happened is rather predictable, and in this case, doesn't matter much- at least not until the end.
You see, a good ten minute situation passed while the other mom tried to convince me that I had made a wrong choice. (Great friend, huh? Lets just try and convince a mom that she has permanently damaged her perfect baby boy, and leave her with the knowledge that there's nothing she can do about it, and that she was so devastatingly wrong that her child will never know what it's like to be complete. Sounds compassionate.) Such excellent words as "abusive" and "disgusting" and, believe it or not, "how could anyone who cares about their child DO something like that?"
Of course, I'm ever so much more eloquent when I write than when I speak, and I only ever think up the perfect comebacks AFTER someone behaves like a heathen to me. So I just sat there and let her say her piece, and when she finished, I just said "I would do it again. I just feel like this is the best decision I could make for my sons right now."
Before she turned on her heel and swaggered away, she told me "You know what your problem is, Brae? You just think your way is the right way, and you're usually wrong."
I cracked up right then and there, with my fat baby boy drooling and laughing right along with me.
What's so funny? SHE'S RIGHT!!!! At least in part. I DO think I'm right! But she's wrong too. I'm not usually wrong. Not when it comes to MY children. I have read as many studies and weighed as many decisions as she has- in fact, I've weighed more. Two more, to be precise.
I have heard it said before that moms who have older children think they have it all figured out and that they ignore new studies because they have been doing a certain thing for so long, they feel that "if it's not broke, don't fix it"- even if the new information means something healthier for their newer child.
In a sense, I agree- there was a lot of trial and error with my oldest child, but from there on, I had several more children very close together, and I sailed through. What I do with them works- they are happy, respectful, healthy children who, for the most part, get along with each other. And it's not like they're 15 years apart. I have four of them and my oldest is six. And, as I mentioned earlier, I re-researched everything with every pregnancy. And I'm not above change. I just sometimes think it's stupid. For example, when I was pregnant with Scarlet, the big BPA plastic scare was the big "thing." - I considered switching to glass bottles, and in the end, after studying many MANY official scientific studies, not stupid google scare tactic ridden articles by bloggers who know nothing, I settled on BPA free plastic. A good compromise. With Teague, the big issue was that new studies were apparently showing that the earlier you introduce solids, the more likely a child is to develop allergies to foods as well as obesity. Well....I used my own brain on this one and concluded that as far as obesity is concerned, it has more to do with WHAT and HOW MUCH a parent feeds their child throughout their whole life, as well as how much exercise a child gets, not how early they introduce solids. And it is my personal opinion that the opposite is true as far as allergies go. The United States is the only country that suggests longer waiting periods before introducing solids, and the United States has the highest number of food allergies among children. On every birth board, moms gasp angrily because grandma slipped baby a bit of bread while the family had dinner, or a taste of applesauce during snack time. Heaven forbid ice cream passes his lips before the exact moment of his first birthday. (Newsflash: dairy isn't poison, even before one year. No, I don't recommend giving your 6 month old a bottle of cows milk, but a bite of dad's ice cream once or twice isn't going to do so much as give your baby a stomach ache.) "OMG!!! Don't you know that giving my baby a strawberry before he's 5 will give him an allergy?!!!" - says a woman from a generation in which food allergies among children were rarely heard of, but who is the parent to a child from the generation that is riddled with food allergies. The difference? The older mother never worried about feeding her child foods he would be eating eventually anyway, and the younger mother is so terrified of everything she reads that she doesn't let her baby have anything but breastmilk until he's one year old or older. Heck, in India, peanut allergies are entirely unheard of, and they start feeding their babies table food almost immediately- table food that is almost always cooked in peanut oil. In America, we wait until they are two.
So, I feed my kids whatever I'm making for dinner, as soon as they look interested. And none of my kids have any allergies at all. Yeah, yeah, I know. Anecdotal evidence. Whatever. It's working for me. Why should I change it?
The glory in all of this is, while I refuse to acknowledge any other mother's accusations that I'm doing something wrong with my children, the fact that I'm right doesn't mean they're wrong.
I just don't want people who don't know me or my kids or what's going on to sit and tell me that I'm doing something wrong. When you spend 24 hours a day 7 days a week with my kids, and know them as well as I do- in and out, up and down, interests and disinterests, and everything in between, THEN you can make the parenting decisions.
What I want to know now is- What are YOU right about? What are YOU right about that everyone else is wrong about? At least when it comes to YOUR family, what are you doing right?