Thursday, May 2, 2013
No Right Way
I inadvertently set off a bit of a firestorm here earlier this week. My six-year-old had refused to stay in bed for the fourth day in a row, pitched a fit, and after failing to respond to reason, was left to solve her own problem by crying. The whole thing wore me out and reminded me of sleep training my infants, so I wrote about it.
Maybe I communicated poorly and made the whole thing sound a lot more dramatic than it was, but that post really upset some people. Most of those people expressed their feelings as concern for my poor child, but what they really were doing was judging me as a parent. They told me that my way was the Wrong Way, which implies there is a Right Way (their way) to parent.
There is no Right Way. If you have read a book, watched a video, or been sold a product that promises you are doing things the Right Way, you have been bamboozled. You have purchased only a book, a video, or a product--not the solution. There is no manual, no single solution, and no Right Way.
My children are 9 and 6, so I am a decade removed from advice in parenting manuals and online mommy forums. I don't much care how others think I should parent, and I absolutely want no part of any argument about it.
I'm fairly confident that if you provide adequate food and shelter, love your children, treat them with respect, and teach them to do the same, that the other little decisions will all come out in the wash.
Want to co-sleep? Knock yourself out. Wasn't my thing.
Are you a baby wearer? That's lovely. More power to you. Also not for me.
Did you Ferberize? OK, whatever. If it was a reasonable attempt to solve a problem you and your child were facing, then rock on.
Breast is best and all, but it's not for everyone. Was your baby nourished and growing? Then congratulations, you did a swell job.
Same if you work or stay home, have hired help or not, have a chemical-free home and an additive-free diet or indulge in the occasional 409 and a Freeze-Pop. Really, it's all going to be ok.
I think most mothers of older children would agree with me. The Right Way proponents tend to be new to this job. They feel ill-prepared and overwhelmed and look for answers and instruction. They search for a way to feel in control and find it in The Right Way. I hope they have found the right way for them, and I hope they feel some level of control. I also hope they realize that the perfect solution in their home is not the solution for everyone.
Love your children. Care for them. Find your own way, and please let me find mine. I'll do the same for you, and all our kids will be just fine.
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