Monday, February 24, 2014

Raise Your Child the Way You See Fit

I get so tired of reading, day after day, all of the parenting advice that is out there.

Of course, often we seek the advice.  My baby sleeps sometimes and sometimes she doesn't.  She eats well some days and other days she doesn't.  So obviously, I try to find answers, or at least something I can do to help her lest I feel helpless.

However,  I feel overwhelmed by all the advice.  I get that we need to pick and choose what we think will work for our own families.  Still, that is rather difficult to do, and sometimes we still can't figure it out.  But if we try to heed all of the advice we read and hear, we will go crazy.

I recently read this about the "cry-it-out" method.  Granted, it is a few years old, but it came out right about the time that my fifth child was born and contributed greatly to my mom guilt, even though I had let my older four children cry at times.  The thing is, these articles tend to not distinguish between the truly damaging crying (orphans in filthy orphanages overseas who are left to cry for hours and hours because there is not enough help to care for them) and crying that helps keep the sanity of a mother going crazy (having to take care of kids who are 18 months apart when they are young, sometimes you had to let one cry to meet the needs of the other). They also don't seem to take into consideration the generations and generations of capable people who turned out just fine despite being left to cry it out at babies. Honestly, this kind of article makes me crazy. Of course, that is because I am guilty of letting my babies cry but more than that, I feel that my children were not damaged by it.

Besides that, a lot of the parenting advice given today is very child-centered.  The article referenced above states

A government pamphlet from the time recommended that "mothering meant holding the baby quietly, in tranquility-inducing positions" and that "the mother should stop immediately if her arms feel tired" because "the baby is never to inconvenience the adult."  Babies older than six months "should be taught to sit silently in the crib; otherwise, he might need to be constantly watched and entertained by the mother, a serious waste of time." (See Blum, 2002.)

Now, I'm not saying this government pamphlet had excellent advice, but I also don't believe that a child will be damaged because her mother puts her down when her arms are tired and because she is no longer in her mother's arms, she cries.  I really don't think that will damage a child.  If her mother threw her down or slapped her in the process, that would be damaging.  If her mother never held her, claiming she was too tired, that would be damaging.  I feel that whole notion is very child-centered.

Yes, I believe that good parents sacrifice a lot to be good parents, but I also don't think they should sacrifice everything and let the child rule their life.

I also believe that a lot of the advice given today does not necessarily lend itself to raising the quality of human being I want to raise.  I believe in things like good old-fashioned work, making kids wait for things, sometimes telling them words like no and never, making them walk places (walk!  can you imagine?), letting them fail (crazy, I know!), and letting them solve their own problems.

Parents, your job is to provide food and shelter and security for your children.  There are many avenues to get there.  Seek advice, but don't try to do everything.  And remember, if you are trying and you are doing what you think is best for your family, don't let the naysayers make you feel inadequate.  You are not inadequate to raise the child that was given to you.  You are just the person that child needs to have as his or her parent.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Every Little Moment

There are so many blog articles and stories written about how we must treasure every moment of our child's fleeting childhood.  They will be grown someday.  We will miss this.  We will yearn for this.  Make sure you treasure every moment so completely because it will be gone before you know it.

I love my babies.  All six of them. I have loved every phase they have been in and hated every phase they have been in.  I have lain there at night thinking how eager I was for this phase to be over and at the same time, feeling sad because the phase would be over soon.

I read these blogs and feel bad because I do not love a lot of my baby's babyhood.  I hate changing diapers.  It seems every time I get going on something and am really deep into it, be it cleaning, cooking, fixing something, writing, reading, whatever, my baby needs another diaper change.  Or she starts to cry.  If I sit there doing nothing with the expectation she'll have one of these moments, then of course, she doesn't.  I don't love the sleepless nights (I am more exhausted than I have ever been with this sixth one--and she was the most terrific sleeper of them all from three months to eight months) and I don't love the teething.  I hate the rear-facing carseat (she screams the entire time she is in the car, every time, because she can't see me).

I have felt guilty because I'm not enjoying every little moment.

But today I had a realization.

To put my 2-year-old down for a nap, someone has to lie down with him until he falls asleep.  In the bed with him.  He will not nap any other way.  He falls asleep at night without this, but for naps, it's the only way.  As I lay there waiting for him to doze off soundly, I watched him fall asleep.  I memorized his face--the way his red hair flopped over his forehead, the way his eyelashes softly fluttered, his perfectly puckered little lips, his adorably kissable cheeks--and I realized that I do this kind of thing all. the. time.

I spend time every day taking in my babies' faces and memorizing what they look like at this age.

I do this with my ten-year-old.  I do this with my ten-month-old.  So maybe, just maybe, after all, despite the nightly moment when I wish my baby wouldn't be a baby anymore so she would sleep all night, I am enjoying their babyhood and childhood.

But maybe I just don't have to enjoy every little moment.

Book Review: The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

This book has been an enjoyable read for me.  I love to read about parenting.  I was eager to read this book to find out exactly what constitutes "Chinese parenting".  I had a vague idea in my mind, having grown up in an area where there were many Asian students.  I don't know how my Asian friends were raised, having never even been in any of their homes, but I'm certain, based on how they fared academically and musically, that it was probably similar to Amy Chua's description.

Much of the book resonated well with me.  I want my kids to be successful and high-achievers.  I want them to learn music and keep up with their studies.  I want them to be obedient and well-disciplined and polite.  I agree with some of her philosophies, in that I believe that parents should be respected and that children should grow up to take care of their parents.  I believe in being strict about many things too, that some of the pleasures our children indulge in these days are not necessary and many should be avoided.

I can agree that Western parents tend to coddle their children too much.  They don't allow for a lot of personal growth; they don't have very high expectations and don't expect much follow-through.  They come to the aide of their children far too quickly.  That I can agree with.

However, I didn't like some of her methods.  I guess that's the Western parent in me since was raised by Western parents.  I don't believe that her methods will necessarily result in adults who are confident enough to choose their own path.  She doesn't want them to choose their path.  That sounds a bit like Satan to me.  "My way or the highway", right?

I think there is probably a way to blend the best of both worlds.  Perhaps parenting with high expectations in addition to remembering Jesus Christ and following his example.  I think there would be less yelling and more loving.  I'd like to find a way to parent like that.


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