It isn't often I write a blog post where I'm annoyed... but, this is one of those... It is one of those to make you think about your influence on other families in your community. "Peaceful Parenting" and "Attachment Parenting" are these are titles that get circulated throughout parenting groups. "You're a horrible mom if you let your baby cry it out." "You don't love your baby enough." "Your child is going to grow up to be an awful adult who can't cope if you don't respond to their every need."
Now, I totally believe that children need love... always. I totally believe that children are designed to be close to their parents from sleeping to communication (which includes cues before crying). I've been guilty as a new-mom-just-over-depression who thought one decision would change the world for other parents as well because that decision was easy for me... or that decision HELPED me. Then reality hit and I found some things that didn't send me into depression, but are a challenge of my everyday life to be the parent I want to be... Thank you God for that lesson... it was needed. It was needed not only for my family, but for my advocacy with others.
The biggest challenge, though, is not parenting my children... but OTHER PARENTS!
So, here's the thing... What *I* do is advocate and educate. What other advocacy *groups* are doing is [usually] just the same. That's my job (their job), my "thing", my hobby, my focus, what I learn about, what I research, what I am "into"... I've built a community around it. I'm not just a mom throwing my opinion out there - I'm trying to take what I'm passionate about and reach a lot of people. Not everyone is doing that - but, that's just what I felt called to do after my daughter was born. What I share, is for those that DON'T KNOW. Likewise, when someone offers a tip it is for those that don’t know.
I/we want you to know what I had to scour books, people, and the internet for. I want you to know what I had to learn over a long time. I want you to know what is available to you for resources and what biological parenting is designed to be AND the reality of putting it altogether which includes adapting it to your lifestyle however it works for your family... and never ever trying to justify your choices to others or to me... especially in the western culture!
I want you to know my struggles, TOO! I tend to keep these for personal conversations so I can fully explain as well as have someone face to face to me before they make a comment about my situation.
Sharing an article is NOT a judgment - it is for the ones that don't know and may actually find help within the words - through a tip, through an experience or story, or through an idea they were feeling and needed validated in this culture. I never expect someone to follow things to a T from an article. There are certainly times where I don't want parents to struggle or I think "oh, this would help you so much" - but, I GET what that takes and I know MY own struggles. So, words are just that... words... they are not physical support - and that's what I want to focus on... So, let's take a moment and look again at some of the responses from PEACEFUL parents when these articles are shared (by me, and by many other parenting communities). You know, the ones who believe...
"You're a horrible mom if you let your baby cry it out." "You don't love your baby enough." "Your child is going to grow up to be an awful adult who can't cope if you don't respond to their every need." "You're a lazy parent if you don't get down to your child's level 500 times a day for 5 years and speak with a smile on your face."
Did you notice that? Let's do it again... "You're a horrible mom"... "You're a lazy parent" ... What other ones did you find?
How about the more subtle ones - maybe they're more passive aggressive - but they don't show the real mom or they still totally miss the point like, "My induction is scheduled for tomorrow. I can't wait to snuggle my baby IN MY BED because I would NEVER let them cry it out."
Do you see the irony in these? Be infinitely kind to your child and cater to their every need... BUT... be degrading and don't respond with love to your fellow parents because the idea is that children have brains like adults and they need nurtured... but because that person may not have been responded to in a "peaceful parenting" way and is now the adult we're trying to prevent... then you don't deserve love and kindness and help 500 times a day. My choices are better than yours. You can never experience depression. You can never experience exhaustion. You can never experience burn out. You can never experience a sad or lonely look on your face. Don't ask for help for fear of having to explain why you need it... you know, because you'll have to explain how you yelled at your child 500 times over the weekend, or completely ignored them. Pretend like you're perfect on the "peaceful and supportive" mom groups because you know a thing or two and then cry when you're alone because you personally experience how hard it is and don't know how to make it work. Makes total sense and is not hypocritical at all... ???
Then... if someone's child cries a lot, it’s because they _____________ (are a helicopter parent, don't parent enough, had a cesarean, had a home birth, had an OB, pushed too long, took too many meds, didn't take enough meds, gave your kids vaccines, didn't give your kids vaccines, thought you could do it vaginally, didn't have enough faith in your body, just didn't try hard enough.............)
- MY. GOSH. Are we hearing ourselves????????!!!!!
Our CULTURE is not supportive of the biological needs of HUMANS of all ages. Let's ALL see that so we can actually start supporting each other and get to the place we want... need to be. This doesn't happen overnight. I dare to say it can't happen in a few generations. It's not just a belief that is needed... it's a culture shift.
Moms can't stay at home every day all day with the kids and expect to be 100% without help.
Dad's can't be the one working every day and exhausted when they come home and expect to put on the happy face and act like they just woke up.
When we *have* to *buy* our food instead of grow it, that makes these lifestyles necessary.
When we *want* whatever everyone else has (cell, house, toys, clothes, vacations, car) - it makes these lifestyles necessary.
When we have *no clue* how to treat mild to moderate ailments at home with love... or herbs... it makes these lifestyles necessary.
When you have laundry to do, the house to clean, teaching your child (whether home or public... YOU are teaching them every time you interact with them), work to do, 3 meals and snacks to make (oh, and they have to be totally organic, gluten free, dairy free, balanced, but not from this store and they should be from the garden)..... but YOU have to do it all on your own.... we make these lifestyles necessary.
I could list 100 more things about our culture that DIRECTLY influence the dynamic of the family and the actual ability to peacefully parent. I don't even have an answer for this. It isn't easy to just pick up, leave everything behind, and start a new community of people that actually believe in the same thing. There are so many different belief systems in our culture it would be really hard to commit to living our lives connected like we need and feel totally supported and in sync with those helping and surrounding us. Even The Farm didn't work out that way... Though, I CERTAINLY encourage you to find your group. It might take you a really long time to really find those you connect with that you can spend time with. You may find along the way that your immediate family is your group and you don't have that totally connected feeling to others, either. Just keep searching... It certainly does take a village - but a village of PHYSICAL SUPPORT... not just words of shoulds and shouldn'ts.
The way people parent is, yes, influenced by their parenting - but it is ALSO influenced by 1,000 other factors in their life - including your hurtful comments... The ABILITY to change isn't always as simple as "you just choose to do it." Yes, you can choose that... but think about something hard YOU'VE done... now think about something hard you HAVEN'T done perfectly... I am pretty sure you've never done anything perfectly because we're not perfect. You may have satisfied yourself and done very well - but we're humans, and we're not perfect. There will be SOMETHING that we influence our children with that we have no clue what type of outcome it will create... no matter how well we think we're doing and what "the studies" say. How many of those studies follow nutrition? Just a though.
All I'm saying is this has WAY more to do with culture and lifestyle than it does with parent's just willy nilly going against their instincts. Most of their instincts say "I'm exhausted and I need sleep and I don't like this but I don't know what else I CAN PHYSICALLY do before I go into severe depression." Not every decision is as easy for one person as it is for someone else. SUPPORT each other...
GO SIT WITH THAT MOM THAT IS "LETTING" HER BABY CRY IT OUT so that she can get some sleep...
GO COOK HER FAMILY'S MEALS...
TAKE HER KIDS TO _______________
GO listen to her... go talk to her... go understand her... go live by her... go garden with her... go help her teach her children something... anything...
And, then.... take a look at YOUR life and see how much time you have to GO DO SOMETHING THAT PHYSICALLY SUPPORTS THAT MOM IN HER DAILY TASKS who probably doesn't enjoy yelling or spanking or whatever... Do you have that ability? I'm not judging... I just want you to look at our culture and then think about that when a peaceful parenting *advocacy* article is shared before you comment on the moms that are doing the best they can... And, we get passionate sometimes and our hormones take over sometimes and we have to understand that, too. Remember that most moms may have someone who is there for them, but they don't share those same ideals because they had to do it all themselves, too. They had to get all those things done and responding to every need of the baby made it not happen. Before that, same situation. And just a few short generations ago - those methods were SURVIVAL. It was get the kid to bed and get the harvest in or you didn't eat. (Yes, of course we can baby wear… and these tips are also thrown out in hurtful and condescending ways). Most of those developing America didn't come from indigenous cultures living in communities and helping each other. It was most families living alone or in a system designed around money for everything... in cities without space to do much of anything and the toilet waste was thrown in the streets. Native Americans and other tribal cultures did/do live in smaller communities where they are only working on survival in the natural world where they don't have the tax systems and poverty isn't an issue (unless someone like the US has come in and tried to turn them into our culture... how's that working out for us? Doesn't work out well for them either). But, I digress...
We can say "don't worry about the house...." or "sleep when the baby sleeps..." And, sure, those are all great tips - but that's not the root answer. We enjoy living in a clean and orderly space. We thrive on symmetry and asymmetry. When there is dirt and clutter - we feel those energies in our mind and it can actually make us a more negative parent. When we constantly giving of ourselves in some form, we energetically need those sleep times to just take a breath. We absolutely need sleep, too - and that is a HUGE factor with parents today... but, we need those moments to pray, meditate, and be with our own thoughts too. Many women can't sleep with thoughts in their head. I keep a notebook by my bed to write down things I start thinking about before I can go to sleep. All of these things influence the ability to "peacefully parent" 100% of the time.
Studies can show a lot... but one thing is for sure - paying attention to your child the majority of the time, respecting them like you would like to be respected the majority of the time, and saying sorry go a LONG way. While I'm not *encouraging* cry it out and all those other things - most kids that experienced that as a child are doing very well *in our culture.* They are happy, successful, and healthy adults. Really. The ones that aren't doing so well are those that had poor role models. Those that had parents and seniors that never felt like saying sorry was necessary. Those that had parents that thought if they just pushed them to school (or homeschooled to make them work or to avoid driving them) or to their friends or whatever else instead of *creating* quality time. It has *way* more to do with the intentional family unit than the pieces of the puzzle. We will be affected by soooo, so many things in our life. Not just our parents. Let's keep that in perspective - especially if the urge to be *hateful* arises to another fellow parent. There are goals we strive for - and I encourage you to have the ideals of "peaceful parenting" and "attachment parenting" as your goal - but while working on those goals, reality happens and we need to be able to forgive ourselves and forgive others. We need to learn and move on and try again. Forgiving includes understanding why someone may be saying, doing...etc. something. I love asking myself "I wonder what they're really going through to ________ (brag, complain, degrade, support...etc.)" It not only helps me respond better to someone, but it is a learning experience for me and helps me with my advocacy.
We don't live in a perfect world - but we're certainly not loving each other like we should... infants to seniors.