Friday, August 24, 2007

fine lines


no not the ones on my face...the kind that blur the distinction between truth and non truth....between reality and tripping...between intent and effect.

my parenting style is pretty much child led. now i will say that before having a child of my own...i would have thought this insane. my pre child mentality was that children were little animals in need of training. i sure didnt want one of those kids who make you want to run away and hide (aka holy terrors). but I now believe that their instincts generally direct them to not just survive but to thrive. why does a baby cry? why does a baby want to be held and cuddled? why does a baby want to nurse and even just use mama as a pacifier (which i swore i wouldnt become but have)? i believe that babies need to be just that babies...and we need to allow them that space. the hope is that nurturing them in the way they desire...will give them a foundation of security and place that will serve them for life. i wonder how the world would change if the majority of humans on earth were given respect from day one....imagine.

on the other hand...where does that dreaded term "spoiling" start? even though i feel like i am being a good mother when i tend to his little cries of... "mama...im awake and ive tossed around for a bit and cant get back to sleep...will you come comfort me and even let me use you as a pacifier for a while?", every once in a while (usually after someone has dissed this practice) i second guess myself. but why should i let him cry? do i even need to train him to sleep all night without help? i will say that my child seems to wake up ALOT more than other kids his age. my thinking is that its probably related to his "allergies" or what have you. but then again..i dont truly know what their habits are. am i conditioning him to wake more often so he can get mama nurturing / attention? possibly. is this a problem? only when i want to sleep for more than 3 hours at a time...or get away from the house in the evenings. i figure i will only have a baby for a short time in my life...so serving him in this way is not a big deal. maybe i want to selective spoil...hmmm...never thought of that. if conditioning your child to know without a doubt that he can count on mama..so much that he doesnt even need to scream or barely cry and she is there within seconds...is spoiling...then i guess sign me up.

i do let grant take falls and get hurt a bit and cry without rushing to his side - when he needs more comforting he comes to me. crying can be "baby cussing"...where they just want to complain and make sure you are aware of the incident before moving on. ive been proud of myself for holding back and letting him sort it out. problem solving of sorts. however...i listen to his cries to let me know how hurt he is...and if "the one" is heard...i do rush to his side. mothering is about communication with your child(ren).

so will my intent, my mothering style pay off? what will the effect be? will i end up with a holy terror? or will i raise a happy, secure and loving person? maybe a bit of both. its the gamble you take with any parenting philosophy. and there is a huge amount of luck that plays into it as well. for now though...i will continue following my instincts (and grant's), laughing at cultural norms and enjoying every second of this precious time...even as my fine lines keep multiplying.

7 comments:

Elizabeth F. said...

I totally agree with you on giving every person (that includes children) respect and a voice. They need to be heard and understood.

I also do not rush to my kids side if they get a little ouchie! They usually just shrug it off unless they are really hurt!! You can tell the difference between the cries. :-)

Brian said...

Looks like this little guy has you on the run.... I know the feeling... try reesoning with a three year old!

Anonymous said...

You are following your instincts. The term "Child led" I always thought meant something different than the way you describe. I have never read any parenting books, so I don't know how it is described. But it makes me think of moms who dont enforse simple rules of conduct and let their children run the show. Those I am thinking of--not you ofcourse--I think they are afraid, or maybe it's easier to let the child win (because you're the bigger man-or stonger inside) Or don't want to be the mommy bosses that they see. I am probably strict, I don't let my kids get away with much, but never mean. And I still try to be funny, silly, let the roll on me or sleep together occasionally. the instincts of my children are manytimes to the negative, so I don't find the term child let to be the perfect description of me now. It wouldn't work. Or maybe I don't understand the real meaning/ I sort of guide them to good behavior, to love each other, to play with out inhibitions, to enjoy the fullness of live and explore it as much as possible.

you are such a good mom, I didn't read the whole website, but I think if we really love our babies, and try to do it without too much selfishness (because there is always some) they will turn out wonderfully.

I'm glad we are keeping in touch! Someday we should visit again.
christy

Anonymous said...

Paula, there is a book I read when we lived at East Wind Community, The Continuum Concept; I forget the author. If you can get it through interlibrary loan, I recommend it.

http://www.continuum-concept.org/ Oh, look, I found its website!
The Internet resource for readers of Jean Liedloff's acclaimed book, The Continuum Concept

http://www.continuum-concept.org/cc_defined.html This is a great page.

You will feel better about your parenting style when you read it. Its thesis is that humans have evolved for all of our history until recent times with babies being in contact with human skin 24 hours a day until they want to walk alone. That's what?--several million years before maybe a few centuries of northern European culture that put babies in cribs or cradles or whatever and let them cry. And look at the murderous history of European cultures, including our own! I've been reading about the centuries of American empire, and not feeling proud of any of my heritage right now, including in the "old countries." Though I have to admit that I haven't found any earlier cultures that were all sweetness and light, either.

But I agree with you that raising babies with lots of loving attention is better for them than raising them without it. The other part of it, as I remember, is that the babies are not the center of the village culture; they are the everpresent observers. The mother carries out her role in serving the whole group (i.e, doing her share of the work) with the baby tied by a long wrap to her body. That keeps the child from seeing itself as the center of the universe, the king/queen whom everyone serves. The child observes each member of the village being a part of the whole. Works best in an egalitarian village without warrior class or priest class that led to kings and emperors, I'd add.

Claire, who learned good parenting too late

Anonymous said...

Hi Paula!

Love your blog! How is the new daycare going? It's funny all the things you think BEFORE you have kids are so rediculous after you have kids. I am totally feeling your parenting style. They grow up so fast and our job is to nurture them and help them learn to deal with the world, not push them into it before they are ready. But not to hold them back when they are ready either. We want them to have good hearts not be little robots. Someone asked me if we were going to let him sleep with us forever and I told them he won't want to sleep with us forever :( Christan still wakes up almost every night. Does it bother me? Not a bit. He probably should be night weaned because he has teeth issues ever since they came in, but he has been to the dentist several times and they said it's OK to wait as long as he's not in pain. Besides I don't even wake up anymore. The other dentist wanted to but him in the hospital under general anesthesia to fill some freakin cavities. I'm not really Ok with that if it's not emergent. I do not personally know any children who have regularly slept though the night before age 2. Have heard such stories, but I think they used cry it out method. I know some who used that method and their kids still don't sleep well. Believe it or not, someday you won't even remember the sacrifices you've made, but you will remember the special times and the bond you have formed. It is not spoiling your child to be there when they need you. Someone commented how spoiled "our " children are (mine and theirs) and it just seemed so foreign to me. I do not think my child is spoiled at all. Yes, he has so many toys and lots of attention, but he is kind and thoughtful. That's what I'm shooting for. Sure he has his moments, but he has a soft place to fall back on (me), and I am here to help him though it . A child, even a baby deserves to be respected as a unique person and not to be oppressed unnessarily or held to unreasonable expectations. Any other way just seems too harsh.

Paula A.K.A Mama Bear said...

i appreciate the feedbcak.

regarding child led...i really mean in infancy ...and beyond with nurturing needs. i certainly set boudaries for grant already. if it was up to him he would be playing with electricity and fired. i guess i shoudl have defined it more as chidl led nurturing. when he needs me i am there for him. i dont try and mold him into a box of scheduling and limitation.

my husband and i definitely think children need limits and need to respect us. its a tricky age right now..bc he is not a baby yet not yet a kid...we started now with 20 second time outs where we just hold him on our lap...after he has disobeyed us continually after 2 warnings. we try and distract him but it rarely works. its tricky this parenting thing!

Anonymous said...

It is tricky to have that balance sometimes. I see it as we all --all of civilized society as well as our family live under a set of rules or guidelines. Do not kill, Do not Steal obviously, but also things like treat others with respect, show generosity to family and strangers, you get the idea. Everyone probably phrazes these things a little differently and every family may focus on different aspects. One may call it Christ-like others live by the golden rule... We raise our children to be upstanding members of society and it begins with the home. Do not push, do not talk-back, learn to share... Ofcourse I and most of us put this in the positive for our children when teaching them so they don't feel that they are being told "no" all the time. In this way, you don't feel like you are the bad person or the one holding it together- it is an umbrella- over our heads this structure that we follow in our civilization, not something mommy is making me do but something that exists outside of mommy. Remembering this, helps me to keep that balance between letting nature take its course, and boundaries.

those issues are different than, Should I let him play at the park all day? or come home and nap? Should I kiss him when he scraped a knee/fell at the park or tough it out a little? thses are not moral issues. They are issues of comfort and well being. I decided that a schedule was best for me. Things were easier that way, baby knew what to expect and her behaviour was more predictable. Baby and child were on a cycle- eat, sleep, pee, poop, play. Scheduling is most helpful when you are potty training or when you have multiples. But everyone has their style. Sometimes I let my kids tough it out a little, other times I hug and kiss and comfort. They tell me what they need. I want them to fall and get back up, but they will only be strong emotionally if I gave them security and confidence when they were really little. And I am feeding them now so they will be strong when they are a little bigger...

OK maybe I am lecturing, but I got going. Putting this abstract parenting on paper is kind of fun. It makes me think.

Christy