Thursday, March 07, 2013

Parenting and feeling strongly

When my children were babies, and I found myself on a less mainstream path, I quickly discovered that almost all parents ( and a few people who've never had kids), have very strong feelings about parenting styles.  I'd be lying of I pretended I don't have strong feelings myself. Knowing that I'm a crunchier parent, you can guess that I think breastfeeding, cosleeping,responding to a child's cries,  not spanking, and cloth diapers are all very, very good ideas. (Actually, I feel we should reframe diapering not as a parenting choice but as an ecological one; more akin to the decision between a hybrid and an SUV than between breast and bottle. But that was another post .)

Those particular decisions are far behind me, yet I find we still fall into strong opinions. For example, my eldest has just finished applying to community college, where he'll finish his last two years of high school and his AA at the same time. (That's the theory, anyway). More than one friend has expressed that they don't  consider it a good idea, because 16 year olds are still children (not a view I necessarily share) or that they will miss out on important parts of high school (which is true, but I imagine any youth who found prom or high school football important would either forgo early entry to college or find a way to do them anyway)

I don't feel strongly about whether or not others should send their children to college early, but I do strongly want all my children to consider it, and I feel it's a good fit for my eldest. Firstly, both the DM and I believe in avoiding debt, and I personally consider avoiding debt to be more  important than the prom or the "experience" (read, luxury)  of living on campus. Secondly, if I could have avoided my last two years of high sc hool and gotten on with my life, and gotten two years of college paid for to boot, you can BET I would have done it. But most importantly, I recognise it as a highly individual decision; not just for families to make, but for children within families. My middle child has applied to an arts high school and my youngest hopes to go to the sister science school. Should they do that, they will have the opportunity to take college courses during high school, but as part of high school. What is right for their brother might not be right for them, who went right from home schooled to college.
Another friend has long been shocked at my total disinterest in involving my kids in sports, a disinterest that extended to knitting through the entire season of basketball that my youngest played.
I think it's important for us to recognize not only that what works for us might not  work for another parent, but that what works for us with one child may not work with another. Further, we often will fail to live up to out ideals, or may have to change them when life throws us a curve ball. I can't count the times I've heard a friend say one of the following:

"I planned to breastfeed, but ( I bled profusely after birth and my body was busy not dying; my child's heart condition made nursing too difficult for him; my spouse left and I was in extreme stress)"

"I never thought I'd homeschool, but then my kid (had a peanut allergy; was bullied; was misdiagnosed or not diagnosed with a learning challenge)"

"I was always going to feed my kids a whole foods vegetarian diet, but she's given hot dogs wherever she goes"

You can insert any number of scenarios here, but the takeaway is this: We ought to remain humble about our own parenting and others', and recognize that circumstances outside our control can throw things for a loop. We ought to recognize that no one way is right for everyone, and may not even work for all the kids in your own family. Let's trust that and lift people up, OK?


At 2:54 PM, Blogger Rebecca Kvenvolden said...

oh boy, AMEN AMEN AMEN!!! Amen ALL over the place!!!! I have been humbled so many times, several of which have been parenting decisons!! Cloth diapers- LOVE cloth diapers, absolutely LOVE them, however from about child #5 on, the laundry in general was too much to deal with let alone adding a load of diapers to the mix! (i've ranged from between 2-3 in diapers at a time, other than my first 2 kiddos.) Breastfeeding- after my oldest who i did not bf and regretted it, i've nursed on demand as long as possible- my 2nd nursed till he was 4, one of my twins is still going strong- but when the twins were born and i was faced with breastfeeding them constantly and that was WITH formula supplementation, mind you, and my alread massively overloaded self, i resigned myself to using formula partially with the twins. if that wasn't "bad" enough, Asher weaned at 10 mos. He had a LOT of problems nursing from the get-go and struggled through but eventually started involuntarily biting me when he nursed, and i'd jump, and he became TERRIFIED to nurse :( poor guy, so one of my post-teen pregnancy children actually got breastmilk less than a year. Sigh... it happens. Last year we put our kiddos in PS. Ash was dx'd with autism and we KNEW we had a really hard year ahead of us, and wanted to make sure the kids got a decent education. Granted only ONE finished out the year before i pulled them out ONE BY ONE, but i was accused of lots of nasty things in that time. Life happens! its so encouraging to see posts like this because i can assure you, NOT everyone "gets" it!

At 3:52 PM, Blogger Jenna Carodiskey-Wiebe said...

I'm glad it was an encouragement. The idea that one way is best for everyone and any one person can know it bothers me. I recently had an uncomfortable moment because a friend is going through a parenting crisis, I wish to support without actually having to agree, but I was harangued into voicing an opinion and then the friend was upset. Not my kid, you know? I am fully cognizant that I parent from a place of extreme privilege, much more so even than people with more money than us, and that it I really need to view others from that place of humility.

At 4:40 PM, Blogger Lone Star Ma said...

Word. I always understand when new parents are True Believers who think there is One Way but it exhausts me how much people with older kids can still feel that way. It takes all kinds.


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