Friday, February 11, 2011

Parenting Styles

There are so many things women disagree over. I am constantly amazed at how cold civil people can be to one another just about every time I sit down and begin reading online. My favorite website is (although I love love love to read all the comments on the articles on Yahoo's homepage!). I started going there because its a great place to research different kinds of cloth diapers and it is also an excellent place to buy and sell preloved dipes!

I have more recently discovered the vast amount of forums on different parenting topics on Diaper Swappers as well. I typically stay out of any real discussions. I find myself way more of a "lurker" than an active participant. For me its best to not even get involved in some of the issues discussed. Probably for me, the biggest reason is that I do not share many of their beliefs with regards to parenting styles.

Before I began cloth diapering, I didn't even know there were different parenting "styles," but since taking part in a rather AP (Attachment Parenting) trend - cloth diapering - I have learned a ton about that style! Mostly, what I have learned is that I am not into Attachment Parenting. Well, at least not very much.

If you are a 100% AP mama, you would have a natural childbirth - likely at home, exclusively breastfeed on demand, co-sleep with your baby (or toddler), wear the baby in a baby carrier, cloth diaper, never allow your baby to cry-it-out, and sometimes be a non vaccinating and/or non-circumcising family (I don't want to lump everyone in on this one though). I am sure I am leaving some AP practices out of that list. Many believe in child led weaning which means they will breastfeed until the baby/toddler decides to give it up. This is all a very child-led approach to parenting.

Let me stop RIGHT THERE and say that I am not against any of the AP style. I believe from the bottom of my heart that all moms and families do what they believe is right and what is best for them and their families. I do not aim to judge, ridicule, or condemn any well-meaning family for their choices.

I am writing this because I have learned what I am. Er, what kind of parent I am. Before learning all about Attachment Parenting, I don't know that I would have been able to take a stand on a parenting approach.

I have learned that I like giving birth in a hospital with pain medication. I choose to enjoy my labor by utilizing what modern technology and medicine has brought to us. I do not do this because I don't think I COULD have a natural childbirth. My mom gave birth without an epidural. My mother-in-law gave birth without an epidural. I have many friends who have done it without this modern pain medication. I KNOW that I could do it. I choose to have one nonetheless :-) To me, giving birth is an awesome experience even with the help of an epidural. I still pushed my babies out. I still felt them transition from the safety of my womb to the crisp air of the delivery room. No matter what, it is a wonderful and unforgettable experience!

I have learned that I love to breastfeed. I have not been able to do it as long as I would have liked to with either one of my kiddos, but I still love it. I am hoping with this third baby, that I can nurse him with much greater success. I have also learned that while I will always feed my babies when they are hungry, I choose a parent directed approach to parenting - and for me, this begins at feeding. Really, its very much like I feed my preschoolers now. I tell them when it is meal time. I call them to the table and make them sit down and eat. But, if C is hungry at 2pm, I will give her a banana or a string cheese. Its the same with newborns for me. They will eat AT LEAST every 3 hours...if they try and go longer, I will wake them up and make them eat (at least during the daytime hours). But, if baby is hungry after an hour and half...I will feed him :-) Its that simple. Its not really nursing "on demand," more like "on routine." This is not very AP approved.

I have learned from the very beginning that I do not co-sleep with my babies. For me, its a safety thing. I think I will roll onto them. I would never be able to fall into a deep sleep with a baby in the bed. My babies have and will always sleep in a cradle next to my bed and then transition to their own crib at about 6 weeks old. Thats just the way I roll. Its what I feel comfortable with.

Crying-it-out. Thats a tough one. I don't think putting baby to bed at 10pm and coming back in the room at 6am is appropriate for a 3 month old. I do think there is some serious sleep "training" that is needed. With that being said, I believe it is very possible for a baby to fall asleep in the crib on his/her own. Self-soothing is a beautiful thing if you allow baby to discover it. If you rush in to comfort and rock every time baby begins to whimper/pout/or cry, he/she can not learn this. My children have both been TERRIFIC sleepers from the beginning and I believe this is because I helped them learn how to fall asleep (and stay asleep) once they were capable of making it through the night without a middle-of-the-night feeding. This did involve some crying. My children were not harmed by crying. They know that I love them. I think we all are happier during our waking hours because we are ALL well rested. This is my two cents on CIO. I know other moms are adamantly opposed to this technique. Thats fine with me. Just don't bash me for allowing some crying.

I haven't done much baby-wearing in the past, but I actually do intend on doing more of it with baby no.3. I've learned more about BW (the lingo in the forums) from Diaper Swappers and I think its actually a really great thing if you have the proper carrier. Unfortunately, just as with cloth diapers, most "good" baby carriers are not sold at major brick and mortar stores. Most of them are purchased online. I have never had success with any of the carriers sold in Wal-Mart or Target. After reading these forums, I learned that there is a MUCH better way to wear the baby. I can't wait to try a Beco Butterfly carrier with my little guy one day (well, if I can ever afford one, haha!).

I do like to cloth diaper. Thats an easy one for me. I don't consider myself all that "green" like so many moms out there do, but I do recycle and try and do what I can here and there to save the planet. Its just not a huge passion for me...not like car seats and cloth diapers anyway.

I do vaccinate my children. I have never really questioned this practice up until this third baby. I have always done what my pediatrician recommended and on the schedule they recommended. After reading a ton of forums about moms who choose not to vaccinate, I decided to do some research into WHY they choose not to. This led me to learn WHY I choose to vaccinate. This time around, I will still vaccinate, but I am 100% more educated as to why I do it. I may actually delay some vaccines by a few months, but I certainly will not eliminate them. This is just my view. I am glad I did some research though. I love to learn when it comes to parenting.

I also circumcise my baby boys. To be honest, I haven't researched this practice. I circumcise because its still a popular thing to do in our society. I do not think it is harmful. None of the men I have ever known have ever had any ill repercussions because of the look of their penis (well, none that have ever told me about it anyway!). I have never heard any first hand horror stories of "I wish I hadn't been circumcised as an infant!" So, thats my view on that.

The biggest thing that I do differently than AP parents is that I use a Parent-Directed approach to parenting. Its really pretty simple to me. I am the parent. You are the child. I run the show. You learn to obey. I love you. I parent out of love. I always have your best interest in mind. Always. You will thank me for it later. You must learn to trust me.

This makes sense to me because very simply put, it is how the Lord is my Father. I don't see the whole picture, but He does. I am not to ask questions and always expect answers. I may get answers, but He does not "owe" me answers. He loves me more than I know. He runs the show. I am only called to obey and trust.

Okay, for me, this relates to parenting right from the start. I shared with you my approach to breastfeeding and then even to feeding my older children. It also relates to parenting with nap-time. My son WILL take a nap when I tell him to. For however long I deem appropriate. Of course there are days this gets a little messed up due to a cold, teething, or travel, but generally speaking, I lay him down when it is nap-time. I do not wait for him to crash on the couch and then allow him to sleep there. The same goes for bedtime. I do not wait until my children are at the point of exhaustion. Bedtime is at 7pm. This works beautifully for me because over time, I learn my children's true needs and can anticipate them. For instance, I know that my toddler is good to go from the time he wakes up until after lunch. But, we BETTER be home by about 1:00 because he is ready for a nap by then. I can anticipate this because I know his sleep needs. He will then sleep until about 2:30-3:00. This sets him up for a happy evening and a bedtime of about 7:00. I love a child with a routine :-)

Back to parent-directed parenting....I am the boss in my home. My 4 1/2 year old does not call the shots. When I tell her she can watch TV, she can. When I tell her she's seen enough, I flip it off. She often argues or complains, but she never wins. I know that no child needs to watch more than X amount of hours a day. I will then redirect her to make a craft, color a picture, or play with her dolls. I help her learn how to make choices and not get stuck on one particular thing (TV). She does not know what is best for her at 4 years old. She needs direction. She needs a parent - not a buddy.

Oh, and I make one meal for my kids. They can choose to eat it or they can choose not to eat it. This is how we do it. My kids have gone to bed with eating nothing more than a few pear slices for dinner since they opted to not eat their dinner. They will learn to eat what I cook.

I wrote all this out because this is what I believe in. I do not think moms that choose to parent in different ways are wrong, bad, or uninformed. I am surprisingly open minded when it comes to parenting. By this I mean, if you are happy parenting your way and your child is happy and is thriving, then go for it. I don't mind if you co-sleep and still nurse your 2 year old throughout the night. If it works for you and that toddler, then go for it! Its not the way I opt to to things, but that is okay. I will also not bash you if you choose not to vaccinate your children. I know you have most likely done a lot of research on the topic and if you feel comfortable without vaccinating, then go for it. If you don't mind waking up 4 times a night with your 8 month old, who am I to say that you shouldn't be doing it? That is my point. That wouldn't work for me, but if it works for you, then I will not judge.

Acceptance is the magic word. Thats the beauty of it all! After reading one too many debates in online forums, I will leave you with this thought.

Being a mom is hard work. I believe we should all be supportive of one another in our differing parenting approaches as long as our families are happy and healthy. Please feel free to give me advice if I ask for it. I do love to learn new things. But please do not bash me or any other mom because you do not agree with the way I do things. I will be kind and respectful to you and I expect respect in return.


  1. Well said! And it truly is your parenting style and it really does work! I love are an awesome mom and your children are blessed to have you and B as their parents. They will thank you for all you've done one will see the fruits of your labor! It's a lot of hard work (and tons of laughter) but I am proud of my children in more ways than I can possibly say.

  2. For me, I am more of a pick-and-choose approach to parenting. There are good things (for me) about Attachment parenting. For the most part, I believe in child-led weaning (though I do believe it has to be parent-assisted.) I will also have non-medicated child-birth, and I will baby-wear. I will also not vaccinate my children until they are at least five years of age.

    But we will circumcise when we have boys. And we will not co-sleep, at least not in the traditional sense.

    I simply think all parenting methods have something good to add, and some things that are taken too far. Extremism, in any form, is never really good. So I, simply, am a mother-to-be who takes what works for us and does it, regardless of the method it comes from.

    I know sometimes those of us that do that receive judgment from all sides - because no one thinks we're doing to 100-percent correctly. But hey! To each his/her own.

    As long as we love our kids, it can look different for all of us!

  3. I really liked this post. I've been thinking of doing a post on parenting styles soon myself - would you mind if I include a link to this?

  4. Mollyanne, sure, feel free to use it anywhere you'd like! I'm glad you liked it!
    I have actually done a little more research into AP since I wrote this and have learned that AP is not defined by the "techniques" used, but more by the mentality behind it all. Basically, AP moms follow baby's cues and do whatever works best for them. In my mind this seems kind of like what we all do as moms, but I guess there are differences. For instance, if baby likes to be worn in a carrier, wear him, if he doesn't, don't wear him...that is AP approved. Same goes for co-sleeping and everything else. This means you may do things differently for each child you have if one likes it and the next doesn't. That is all okay and you can still be AP, apparently.

    In my mind, I've always done what is right for my babies based on their needs, so I'm not sure what that makes me, haha. Fortunately, labeling myself or any other mom isn't super important to me. I would prefer to be accepting of each mom who parents the best that she can. All I care about are happy and healthy families...the route you take to get there and what you call it really doesn't matter much to me :-)