In the last week I’ve had two different talks – one with each of Arthur’s grandmas – in which I’ve confronted and overturned their assumptions about how we would parent, based on how each mother parented us.
Honestly, I’m glad we’ve started the discussion because our mothers (and my Grammy) are already gearing up to play an active role in Arthur’s upbringing, and while I’m so glad to benefit from their perspectives there are also decisions we’ve made that we need to share with them. I believe that consistency is extremely important, and communicating about these things ahead of time will hopefully avoid more difficult conversations down the road.
(I’m also so happy that I’m having these talks with our moms, and not some random stranger moms. Mom-on-mom judgment is not pleasant, and I’d prefer to avoid it. On that note, a disclaimer: the following are my researched and considered opinions. They have my husband’s support, and that’s all I care about. I don’t plan on telling anyone else how to be a good parent, so if you feel the urge to do the same then please stifle it. We’re all in this together.)
My mom and I had the breastfeeding talk last Saturday while she was helping me pack up the apartment. She was unable to produce milk for my brother and me so we were bottle-fed, but she’s been firmly in my corner about the benefits of BF and vocal in her hopes that we will have a better time of it. I had to stop her, though, when she assumed that we would wean Arthur by the 18-month (or so) mark, or “as soon as his teeth start coming in”.
I believe that breast is best. The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months, with continued breastfeeding as part of a healthy diet for as long as two years or more (whatever is mutually beneficial to mother and child). A policy revision posted in February 2012 by the American Academy of Pediatrics is nearly identical, except for the recommendation that breastfeeding continue for one year or more. Children continue deriving immunological benefits and nutrition from their mother’s milk as long as they have it, and I’m all for giving my child the best shot he has at a long and healthy life. (The teething part of her argument is also incorrect; from what I’ve read of proper latching technique, he can’t bite me if he’s on the right way.)
We are going to do whatever works out best for us. I just don’t believe in setting an inorganic time limit for something so important to his growth and development.
Cry It Out (or not)…
Last week we were at the house having lunch with my in-laws and discussing what type of baby monitor we should put on the registry. One comment led to another; I don’t remember the whole conversation thread except for when my mother-in-law said (paraphrasing), “It’s not like you’re going to go pick him up every time he cries.”
Yes I am.
Nothing upsets me more than the concept of “crying it out”, or allowing a child to “self-soothe”. I’ve read articles about this too, but I’ll be the first to admit that my feelings on the issue are more visceral than logical. I don’t believe that it’s possible to spoil a child by giving them too much love, and I don’t believe that an infant or toddler has the capacity to soothe himself when his cries go unanswered. I’m almost 27 years old and I don’t quite have a handle on self-soothing — and I have words to use!
A baby’s cry is his most forceful form of communication until he learns speech. It’s the signal that something in his world isn’t right, whether he’s hungry or his diaper needs changed or, yes, that he needs attention. Even as adults we sometimes just need reassurance that we are loved and cherished and not alone, so why is it unreasonable that a small baby or toddler may feel the same? A child who is “self-soothing” has really just stopped trying, and has taken the first step to learning distrust of the people who should love him most.
To be clear, I am not suggesting that legitimately bad behavior should be rewarded. When a child is old enough to understand language and to know the meaning of “no”, to act with deliberation and to choose to ignore instruction or warning, the behavior should be addressed and corrected appropriately. That is a discussion for another day.
However, when my baby cries you can be sure that I will be in there to soothe and reassure him.
Now don’t worry – I had these conversations with the moms before putting them up here. As I said above, I’m happy that we have such a strong support network and that our little village can work together to raise a happy, healthy little boy.