April PAIL Theme Post

The prompt for this month’s theme post asks:

What kind of parent am I or do I want to be? If you’re already a parent, what kinds of things work for you now? Did they always? Has your view of what kind of parent you are changed? If you’re pregnant or TTC, have you given this topic much thought? What is your style likely to be? Are you a structure sort of person? Will you or did you cry-it-out? Will you or did you try to get your baby on a schedule? Did you or will you demand feed? Did you or will you subscribe to a method like Attachment Parenting or Babywise or some other method? Do you think you can spoil a baby by holding it too much?

I suppose I’ve thought about this some, but not in great detail.  Being, and staying, pregnant should obviously lead to that train of thought, but frankly I’ve gotten about as far as reading up on natural childbirth, and not much further – yet.  It’s been hard for me to picture us parenting.  It’s getting better as I get bigger, and the other current PAIL project (book club, wheee!) is helping, too.  We are reading Bringing Up Bebe (sorry, not hunting for e’s with accent marks) by Pamela Druckerman.  I’m not finished reading yet – in fact I just started, but so far, I am actually liking it.  I wasn’t sure what my preconceived notions were from the description and sample – I sort of thought I was going to either love it or hate it for being overly judgmental toward everything I haven’t even had a chance to try yet.  Not being even halfway through yet, I’m reserving final judgement.  I don’t think I’ll use it as my go-to parenting manual, necessarily, but so far there is definitely at least one thing I think I’d like to incorporate into my…I don’t even know what to call it – that’s funny.  Style?  Method?  SURVIVAL TACTICS!   I’ll not get specific yet, since I’ll be writing about the book again once I’m done reading it.  
I think what I’d like to aim for as a parent is a sense of balance.  Of course being a mother will change me, and parenting will probably be our primary focus, but I’d like it to not fully consume and obliterate everything else that we enjoy.  I don’t want to be a mother who has nothing going on other than mothering, basically.  I think it’s important for kids to be able to see their parents as people, not just as parents (or their servants, as I think happens in a lot of cases).  I want to trust my kid(s?  so greedy of me).  I haven’t read the book itself, but from what I have read about it, I like the idea of Free Range Kids, as I think that’s how my parents pretty much approached it.  Granted, it was twenty-five to thirty years ago, but we were allowed to roam the neighborhood (not every house was assumed to be inhabited by a pedophile) on foot and on bicycle (WITHOUT HELMETS, GASP!), and did not always have direct parental supervision of playtime.  It’s not that there were no rules or expectations (far from it), but we were not helicoptered by any means.  Even into adolescence, if I was keeping my grades (way) up, which I did, I wasn’t given a lot of restrictions on what I did with my free time. Not saying I had great judgement (are teenagers supposed to?) – I was really good at being bad and not actually getting in trouble.  Plenty of sex, drugs, and rock and roll (let’s not talk about the country music phase – we’ll pretend that never happened).  But I survived, without any major damage, I think.  That’s basically what I want for my kid(s) – to of course keep themselves safe, but to not be afraid to experience life.  I plan to be more open and honest about the sex and drugs part with him/them than my parents were with us (not that my parents were puritanical in any deliberate way – they simply said nothing about those things at all, ever, unless my shenanigans forced them).  Hopefully not as much will be hidden from me as I hid from my parents.  It’s gonna happen, I figure, and while ignorance may be bliss – it could also lead to disaster.  Luckily I was just a fairly normal amount of self-destructive and stupid and not bent on actual destruction.  Actually, that’s probably not so much luck as proof that my parents did an awful lot very well.
As far as my plan for the beginning, I’m hoping to be as flexible as possible, hopefully without creating unsustainable sleep and eating patterns.  I like the idea of attachment parenting (or as much as I know of it – the baby-wearing and bonding, not spanking, etc.), and I do NOT think you can spoil an infant by holding it too much (though I don’t think you need to necessarily pick up a baby within 5 seconds of a whimper, either – self-soothing is a necessary development as well).  This reminds me of a comment Mike’s dad made at Christmas, actually.  Mike’s cousin and his wife’s son was about six months old at the time, and after we left the family dinner gathering, my father in law noted that the baby was “pretty well-behaved.”  I sputtered and choked on the inside, because…yes, while I suppose infants technically exhibit behaviors, but I don’t think you could ever fairly criticize a six month old as behaving badly, either.  I’m no expert on infant development, but I don’t think that babies can be manipulative.  They’re just learning and surviving for the most part.  So even if the kid was having an awful day and cried and fussed the entire time, I don’t think you should really have much to say about it (unless of course you’re also witnessing parental abuse/neglect).  
I do not like what I’ve read about Babywise.  I’m not assuming I’ll never turn to Ferber or cry-it-out, but the criticism for Ezzo’s methods just listed on the wiki page are enough to turn me quickly in the opposite direction.  Or at least hope to feel confident enough to go with my best guess, knowing that there are plenty of guides and gurus out there to consult as necessary.  I don’t want to have so much of a plan in place that any necessary deviation throws a bunch of other stuff out of whack and I feel like we have to start all over.  I want to learn as I go (without hopefully fucking anything up too badly…like maybe his very first word shouldn’t be fuck, as my mom half-jokingly mentioned while we were stroller shopping/researching). With breastfeeding, yes, I suppose I’ll start out feeding on demand, but then hopefully get him on a schedule by two to three months or so and get myself to pumping like crazy so that we can have some to leave with my mom during the day when I go back to work and so Mike can feed him when he wants to or when I need a break, too.  If that pumping is exhausting to the point I’m not getting to enjoy my baby, then screw it, some formula there will be.  I’ll be disappointed, but hopefully not crushed.  
Basically, I want to try and stay flexible and balanced and not lose my shit over the little stuff.  I don’t think my parents were perfect, by any means, but I feel like I have a pretty good base to build upon.  I’m not going to be able to do the SAHM thing, at least in the very near future, so I want to try and enjoy as much as I can while he’s tiny – yet I have no illusion that it will all be enjoyable.  Sometimes it will probably suck rather mightily, but that’s okay.  I still can hardly believe I am getting to legitimately consider such questions…even if I maybe am not taking them seriously enough yet.  On the other hand – I don’t want to fall into taking everything too seriously, either.  It’s just really, really nice right now to be able to believe that, most likely, everything is going to be okay.    

8 thoughts on “April PAIL Theme Post

  1. Courtney says:

    Sounds like you're very open to different parenting styles, and that's great!Ezzo gets a bad rap and I don't understand why. I read his book front to back and do not see what people are so upset about. If you approach parenting books as just a guide, then they're much more palatable! What I took from his book was the eat, play, sleep schedule and that saved us when my son was very young. I fed him whenever he needed to be fed, but I made it a point to ALWAYS feed him after he woke up and to put him down for sleep after he had play/awake time. This helped him find his OWN rhythm. He set his own schedule and we helped normalize it. No one went without food, and no one was ever left to cry alone. I have read a ton of parenting style books, and I just take from each what I like, and disregard what I don't like. I don't take any of them too seriously.Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy! The rest of it will fly by with only 10 weeks left!

  2. I'm amused to see endorsement of free range. Not surprised really (I think it befits the temperament of both parents involved). But definitely amusing. In a good way. I think it is smart also to recognize that this has more to do with growth into young adulthood, and that the more hands off style doesn't quite work right away. But I think you can get there. Which is itself something to be pleased and amused with. In a good way. (I will defer to people who have raised children on the infant related issues, but I wished to endorse myself the provision of less authoritarian, pro-growth methods for kids as they grow up. I could scarcely understand the appeal of anything else).

  3. Thank you, Courtney! Did you read the religious or the secular version? I must admit that the religious connotation and implications noted in the wiki entry are a huge turnoff for me. That doesn't mean it doesn't work – I just could not personally come at it from that angle. Your interpretation sounds anything but harmful – so, like, you said, it clearly just depends on how you use the info.Steve, glad you are amused. I'm sure this will be far from the last time you get a chuckle out of our learning-to-parent stumblings!

  4. Heather says:

    You sound like you are ready to take this on – good for you!I also really don't like the babywise approach – and have heard bad stuff about them (starving babies, when they rigidly stuck to a schedule) although people in my cell group love them, I just kept quiet.I feel like I don't actually want to write about this topic until I actually have the kid, although I'll probably be more on the attachment side of things.

  5. I know – this could all end up being the most hilarious thing I've ever written and I'll be the opposite of what I think now, but I guess it's good to consider at this point. Yeah, I think Ezzo would be the last one I'd consult – but never say never, I guess!

  6. lifebytheday says:

    Sounds like you have the right idea. 🙂 All you can really do is make the best decision for everyone involved – at the time – and move on from there! Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy!

  7. Thanks! Yes, I'm hoping we can feel our way through a lot of the confusion without relying too much on "experts." But at least they're out there if/when we feel desperate!

  8. Wildology says:

    I think Flexibility is super important too…we will see how that plays out in reality. I have an over-prepared plan but recognize it could all fly out the window the moment she is here. Should be a fun ride:)

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