Hey Parents, Let’s Stop Parenting With Fear

I’m not sure I will ever understand the idea of parenting with fear. The media and the ‘research’ out there is geared towards fear and scaring the shit out of new moms and dads. We are in a constant state of fear when it comes to our kids. Making sure they are eating right, sleeping right, playing right, talking right, walking right, freaking blinking right. Or if you are a Whovian, you teach that kid not to blink at all.

Where is the line drawn?

In the end, does it really matter what the research says? No two kids are the same. No two techniques work for the same child nor for the same family. Why then, are we letting ourselves get all worked up about what the media says is the right way to parent? Why are we up in arms if the mother next to us isn’t doing the same thing we are.

Are there great benefits to breastfeeding? Absolutely! However, there are some women who can’t breastfeed and frankly, formula feeding your baby is just fine. They get the same nutrients, the same nurturing from a bottle as they do the breast.  I did both. I breastfed and yet, my baby didn’t latch properly – ever. It was never something we were really in sync with, Punky and I. So, I pumped. I hated it, but I pumped because I felt like I was obligated to, because I wasn’t a good mother if I didn’t give my child breast milk.

You know what I learned? Punky loved me either way. Punky just wanted milk and her Mommy. She didn’t necessarily need the two together from the same body. She was perfectly content to have formula as well, when I made the decision to stop pumping, because my breasts were getting mastitis from not being able to pump regularly when I went back to work. Punky didn’t mind. AND, frankly, I’m sure she would rather her Mommy feel better and not be in constant pain that drink breast milk.

Is it possible that crying it out can be stressful for a baby’s little brain? Absolutely! However, there are women who need to sleep in order to be better for their child. I was one of those women. I let my baby cry it out. I did in fact sleep train my baby. You know what the results were? One night of Mommy and baby crying it out and then …. a very happy, well adjusted toddler, who takes naps like a champ and doesn’t have a problem sleeping through the night from 8:30 PM until 10 AM.

It’s absolutely bullshit to sit there and say that ‘research’ says that crying it out has adverse effects on EVERY child. I refuse to believe that. Do I think excessive crying can be stressful for a baby? Yes. I do, but in the same token, we all know it’s more stressful for Mommies. The argument “If you hear your child crying and it doesn’t pull at you like a heartache, there’s something wrong with you” is accurate. However, it really pisses me off when people assume that I’m a heartless mother because I let my child cry it out for 1 night. Let’s get something straight right now, I read the research for both sides and let me tell you something, both sides blow each other out of the water. In the end, the conclusion in, it doesn’t matter if you use the sleep train method, the crying out method, the rocking method. Use what works for YOUR kid and stop assuming things about people you know nothing about.

Is organic the purest way to eat? That’s what we hear. It is likely better than fast food, well, duh, of course it is. However, if organic seller were really concerned with our health, they would make their foods more affordable. Period. What’s really the difference between organic apples and regular old apples? I’m not sure, I simply don’t know. I’m not afraid to admit that. The major difference I see is the price tag. So, in the end of the day, Punky can have the apples that have the same look and taste at a fraction of the cost. There’s no way I think it’s appropriate to tell my daughter that she has to rape her wallet just to eat an apple. If you can afford organic, I think that’s awesome, but let’s not forget that most of America is struggling to make ends meet. They don’t need to be made to feel bad that they can’t give their child the ‘right’ fruits and veggies.

In regards to the fast food debate, Punky gets fast food. We eat fast food in this house. A chicken nugget is not going to kill anyone. Is it likely not as healthy as some carrot sticks, yes, that’s right, it’s not the healthiest food out there to give your kid. However, after a very long day at work, shockingly some parents work, we don’t have time or energy to cook a full meal and still have time to spend time with our kid. So, would I rather sacrifice a few carrot sticks for precious time with my daughter? You bet I would. At the end of the day, don’t let someone make you feel bad for the food choices you give your child. Organic, regular, fast food, is your kid getting fed? Yes. Are they healthy weight? Yes. Then who gives a damn what others think!

Can it be a reality that spanking your child can hurt? Yes, you better believe it. I know from personal experience that a good spanking can sting like hell. However, are there really adverse effects to a little smack on the hand or diapered rear? I guess it depends on the child, doesn’t it? There’s a great big difference between spanking and beating your child. I will be the first to say that I don’t think spanking should be used as a scare tactic for controlling children. However, there are some times when a child needs more than a shake of the finger and a raised voice to get their attention.

I’m not advocating one way or another, because we do both timeout and smacks on the hand around here. If Punky is getting into something she’s not supposed to be, after a resounding “No.” if she doesn’t listen, it’s possible she will get a smack on her hand to show her that it’s unacceptable to touch whatever her fingers are reaching for. If she is throwing a tantrum in the middle of the living room, I remove her from the situation and place her in an area where she can’t get attention for her behavior. Let’s just remember that a spanking doesn’t mean you are beating your child. We should all know the difference, seriously.

I could go on and on about the things we parents let others dictate is right or wrong. What we allow the media to drive fear into us. TV or no TV? Front facing carseats or not? Cutting their hair or not? Gender stereotypes, gender roles, and much much more.

What’s the moral of my story here?

Kids don’t come with a manual, parenting doesn’t come with a training class.  Stop stressing yourself out. Stop stressing your kid out. Shit, stop stressing ME out.

Do what’s right for you. Do what’s right for your child. We have enough going on in our lives now, too much in fact, to allow someone who isn’t living in our home to dictate how we raise our children. Do you love your kid? Do you show your kid you love them? Are they fed, dressed, bathed, and healthy? Do your children have a roof over their heads and parents who love them? If so, forget the fear tactics and the ‘rules’. Do what’s best for your kid and stop judging others for a choice that may or may not be the same as yours.

Happy parenting, you all!

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7 thoughts on “Hey Parents, Let’s Stop Parenting With Fear

  1. You are my new friend! There is a Native American (I think) proverb that goes “Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes” and I try to live by it each day of my life. I’m not always successful but I do try to keep it in mind. I feel like my parenting decisions are always being questioned by others. And not only that by my boys are always being compared to one another. It can get frustrating. I was a formula-fed, spanked when I did really bad, McDonald’s eating, cry it out until I was blue in the face child and I turned out just fine! And I think my boys will be okay too. I needed this post. Thank You.

    • I’m glad the post could speak to someone else! I know how frustrating it can be to be judged by others – and I have made the occasional judgement myself! I just hope that we can all learn a little something from each other and start helping instead of hurting one another.

  2. This is so true. I used to blather on about “what worked for us” when the twins were babies – I’d suggest bottles, blankets, strollers, bedtime routines, food to everyone with a baby or one on the way. I felt it was my duty to share what made life easier for us. Once they hit toddlerhood, I stopped talking. Probably because nothing “works for us” anymore. It’s just survival.

    I found myself in a facebook comment thread posted by a friend wondering when she “had” to make her twin daughters give up their pacifiers (10 months old). The responses varied from severe and scolding (“I can’t believe you even let them USE pacifiers!”) to showy. Only a few pointed out, like I did, that when your children are 5, you’ll look back on the toddler years with a different perspective. A month or year won’t make a difference.

    I think so much of this panic is culture-based. American parents seem obsessed with faster-faster-faster and being better (more organic, more babywearing-er) than the next person. We need a mute button on the “research.”

    Some parents can endure (maybe even thrive on the dependency?) of 2 years of no sleep. That wasn’t us. We’re better parents with a break at 8:30 pm and a solid night’s sleep.

  3. Hey Rachael, just thinking of you on this day of celebrating Dr. King. I want you to know that I am so proud of the courage that you and so many others in the LGBT community demonstrate every day! Keep up the good work. As a former prop H8 supporter, I want you and your readers to know that you all are loved and times are changing. I’m sorry that the change is not happening sooner. I celebrate the bravery everyone of you show the world every single day. So many of us have wronged you with our words, deeds and the political choices that we have made, I know I was so wrong to be so unfair to all of you and I am sorry. Be encouraged and keep up the good fight!

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