Going With the Flow
I had no idea before my son was born just how much pressure there is to parent your child in a certain way--much of it silent, locked into subtle responses and judgmental looks, more peer pressure than outright admonition. The American way is, as you'd imagine, to kickstart your baby's life as a rugged individualist from the get-go. Don't dare let your baby sleep in bed with you; absolutely do not respond to his every cry--in fact, let him cry longer, show him who's boss; don't bother breastfeeding if you find it inconvenient; organic food? Too expensive. All of these habits, will, naturally lead to a spoiled maniac of a child who believes himself to be an omnipotent master of you who will run rampant as an adult, turning into a less successful version of Donald Trump issuing commands and expecting the world.
I don't know where these ideas come from. Research doesn't back them up. There exist oodles of books supporting the "cry it out" method for "sleep training" your baby (read: so that you can sleep through the night), all which decry any negative effect on baby. Yet research has proven that babies left to cry it out have increased cortisol levels, and can suffer multiple negative effects on their biology and psychology in numerous ways, as well as learning not to trust that their needs will be met. The latest issue of Mothering magazine has some fabulous articles written by doctors on the benefits of bed-sharing with infants that point out how erroneous this thinking is.
Yet every time I read something about attachment parenting--going with the rhythms of your children for the first couple of years and not worrying overmuch about systems and methods or timelines--the more my heart sings YES...this is for me. YES, this is the kind of parent I am.
I know several whiney, "spoiled" children who, whaddya know--were not even breastfed or slept alone or basically took a backseat to their parents' needs at every turn.
With each passing month of my son's life, the more I am convinced that following my heart, my instincts and our rhythms, even if they can't be penned into a perfect schedule, is the right thing to do. For us.