I was reading my friend Amy’s blog post the other day; she was writing about a couple “heavy” childcare topics – mothering style and sleep – and had been debating on posting or not posting. I can empathize 100%! There are some things that are just touchy subjects all around.
As Amy points out, “mothering” – well, parenting in general – is a very personal thing. We all have our own style, our own tricks, our own language with our babies. Some of it is just part of our personality – for example, I’m a touchy feely person, so it’s not too surprising that I spend a lot of time cuddling, kissing, and touching my baby. On the flip side, I have an acquaintance who believes in “tough love” and not holding your baby too much. That would never, ever be me, but that doesn’t mean her approach is wrong. It’s just different from mine.
I think parenting style develops in a lot of ways… it’s influenced by our personality, our childhood experiences, our culture, but not least of which by our own desire to be a particular kind of parent. I approached parenting like I approach most things; the more you know about something, the more confident you’ll be (and for me, confidence is key to success). My mom joked with me about my first few weeks as a parent. I literally googled EVERYTHING! I would read article after article… “does my baby spit up too much? … “how do you care for an umblicial cord?”… and on and on. And just like Amy, I read books, lots and lots of books. I read “What to Expect”, baby care, and sleep books. I subscribed to daily and weekly newsletters on all sorts of parenting and baby related topics. I have a big circle of fellow moms who I consult, and I read blogs of other moms I don’t know in the real world. I soak up as much as I can on parenting (while Vivi sleeps – I figured learning about being a better parent wouldn’t do me much good if I’m not actually paying attention to Vivi when she’s awake).
I’m not saying that knowledge is essential to being a good parent, though it doesn’t hurt. My mom pointed out that she didn’t have any parenting books when she had me, and my mom was and is a great parent. She learned as she went. I’m learning and adapting as I go too, but it is definitely the nature of my generation to educate, research, prepare (or at least the nature of type A people like me).
All of this to say, there’s no right or wrong way to be a parent (well, within reason, of course). However, especially as a new parent, it’s easy to take well-meaning advice as criticism. I think it’s also easy for others to assume that new parents don’t have a clue what they are doing. While that’s often true, who wants to hear that they are clueless?
So this week, I thought I’d do a couple posts on so-called “touchy subjects”. I’m thinking… parenting style (attachment vs. parent-directed), sleep, and soothing techniques (swing, paci, cry it out, etc). Any others that y’all want to add?