One thing in my life has always seemed to hold true – people either love me or they hate me. I don’t seem to be able to inspire middle-ground feelings about myself. I’m really okay with that. I’d rather leave an impression than be forgotten easily, I think. When it comes to my personality, I know I often am a little more blunt than most people, and I also don’t really understand when emotions override facts and reality – only when they compliment one another. I expect personal responsibility and expect people to admit bad choices and learn from them. I think I’ve gotten my factual nature from my father, but my intolerance for whining, idiocy and my tendency to speak exactly what’s on my mind (even when it’s not popular or sometimes needed) from my mother.
I understand this doesn’t always make me popular and can even make some people quite angry; I’m used to it. I’m long-winded (does that phrase still work when it comes to writing?) and I have a tendency to ramble. Lack of sleep and having to come back to typing after innumerable breaks of “Mooommm! I need you NOW!” makes for some seriously broken thoughts and repetition.
What I’ve found makes me the least popular though seems to be that I’ve spent a long time doing incredible amounts of reading and research and make no qualms about correcting misinformation… and not understanding when people try to make up excuses as to why they’re the exception (when they’re clearly not).
After almost six years of “Mom Boards” (internet forums based around motherhood), I’ve discovered there’s generally three kinds of moms:
#1. The Well-Meaning Newbie – this mom is new either to motherhood, or to the amount of information available on the internet. She only knows what her OB and pediatrician tell her, what her mom and aunt and best friend swear up and down is right, and she’s really just doing her best based on the information she has available. This woman is often easily influenced. When her mother says, “You can’t breastfeed because I couldn’t,” she often will surrender. After all, if no one tells her the Le Leche League or lactation consultants exist, who can blame her for not knowing better? Generally these women really do want to learn and will be grateful if someone presents them with information they didn’t know, or that debunks things they’ve been told. I have no qualms with women like this, because unless you’ve been around children your whole life and exposed to real facts and good information, how are you supposed to know that things you think are true might not be? It’s factual enough to the people who are trying to help, right? Meeting the right women whose goal is education and trying to nurture the BEST parenting possible out of these moms generally has great results.
#2. The Parent-Centric Parent – these parents have a tendency to try to fit their children into their lives, rather than adjusting their lives around having children. Often fans of formula feeding, the “Cry-It-Out” method, crib sleeping from day one, these parents are often very into scheduling and getting immediate results, even if it’s a power struggle and results in lots of crying. Long-term investments don’t seem to be their bag – if it doesn’t get immediate results or takes away from their oh-so-important schedule, it’s just bad. Their goal is to have a child who eats when they say “Eat”, sleeps when they bark “Sleep” and often always are thinking about bedtime. A child who is crying in their crib at naptime just needs to deal and sleep rather than the parent thinking that maybe the baby honestly just isn’t tired. These parents tend to ignore medical advice, even things that have been true for 20 years or have been proven dangerous, claiming they just “know better” and they even seem to take some factual corrections (such as “rear-facing an infant in the car before they’re one year old and twenty pounds is illegal”) as an actual insult to them. The worst statement of all that seems to be common is “My parents did it with me/I did it with my kids and they’re fine.” If you are a parent like this, chances are you and I are not going to get along. At all. Ever.
#3. The Child-Centric Parent – these parents make their goal to be their child, first and foremost. They generally are up-to-date on research and health, and take it seriously. They learn not only what the mainstream AAP has to say, but also what is proven healthiest in other countries and across generations, proven in studies and research. They also aim to know their individual child very well so they can work with their child when their child is physically, developmentally or mentally ready for new steps. Their goal is to do things at the pace the child develops at, with encouragement, but without power-struggles and without forcing children into things they’re not ready for, and things that don’t benefit the children. Rather than setting rules “because”, they often teach their children a lot of how’s and why’s so they know their children don’t just know the rules, but they understand them and why they exist. These parents make their child’s health – mentally and physically – their number one goal, and are willing to make some self-sacrifice to accomplish it, knowing that it’s not forever – they understand that long-term results are often the most important, even if it can be frustrating in the here-and-now. These parents take health of children very seriously and never claim things “just work” but instead make a goal of sharing factual information and logical reasons with other like-minded parents, trying to always stay ahead of the game and trying to understand the why’s and how’s of everything themselves. Their goal is never “just fine” but is instead “the best I possibly can.”
These aren’t set in stone, of course, but are just some general observations. If you’re a Newbie, I’m more than willing and would absolutely love to help you start on the path towards learning how to have a healthy, happy child – but you have to always realize that you are not managing an inconvenience, you’re raising a human being. As such, it takes time, dedication, sleepless nights, and some self-sacrifice. But the plus side is healthy, emotional secure and amazing children and knowing you NEVER have to look back and think, “If I’d only done this…” because you’ll know you’re ALWAYS doing the best you know how and always striving to learn how to do even better… instead of just settling for being “fine.”
Tags: parenting choices