Stop labelling how you parent

There’s this whole attachment parenting thing, then there’s the Ferber / cry it out / mainstream parenting thing — and it appears, from what I’ve read, that most of it centres around sleep. Or the lack of it.

buddha baby
This was when The Child was going through the You can’t put me down and I must always face out phase.

Before The Child was born, I was sure that I was going to do controlled crying, because my nieces and nephew seemed to sleep really well and they were all sleep-trained from an early age. I don’t know what they were like as infants, but The Child starts crying at volume dial nine and ramps up to 11 pretty damn quickly. And the pitch of her screaming is only slightly below that of a dog whistle.

In all my late-night reading of why her sleep can be so annoying to me, the parent (answer: she’s a toddler and we need to be a bit better with her routine), there is a lot of argument between those who ‘practise’ attachment parenting and those who sleep-train/ed, as well as those who do something in between. There’s accusations of guilt and health destroyed, neurological damage, and so on. And those who say they keep the parts of attachment parenting that work, and drop the ones that don’t.

It’s all called parenting.

All people are different, kids included. When a new parent asks for advice, very few mothers* I know are actually dogmatic when they give it — almost everyone prefaces what they suggest with “This worked for me, it may or may not for you.”

I think the toughest part is so many of us no longer live in the same community in which we were born and raised. This is probably why styles of parenting are such a hot topic, why adults want their children to be more independent so they can have some ‘me’ time. I’m betting that in more traditional / tribal cultures that raise families communally, parents actually can get a bit of time off to unwind / blow off steam / think because there are many trusted caregivers among them. And we, in our industrialised, globalised economies, live far away from family so can only rely on ourselves.

Raising children isn’t a science — there are theories and studies that can help us understand behaviour, but if it was an actual science, there would be only one method of parenting, wouldn’t there? Aside from providing nourishment and unconditional love, everything’s up for grabs / negotiation / personal opinion. I see it more as ‘trying out tactics I feel comfortable with as a parent, and if they work, great; if not, let’s try something else’. We shouldn’t be at odds — unless someone is actually clearly endangering their child, let’s try a bit harder to be supportive of one another. We’re all just trying to do the best we can, aren’t we?

* I say mothers because most groups I attend are dominated by female parents.

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