Touching on Parenting Philosophies… with a Ten Foot Pole

Rather than hash out which way is The One True Holy Catholic and Apostolic Parenting Philosophy (I think it takes about 2 minutes of motherhood to convince any sensible woman that there’s no One True Way for every family), maybe we can do it this way… what is your parenting philosophy and why does it work great for you?

Personally I lean heavily toward routines, and I was this way from the beginning. My epiphany came, as most of my epiphanies do, on the stairmaster in the gym. I was 7 or so months pregnant with my first baby, diligently reading La Leche League’s “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” to learn how to breastfeed, which I knew I wanted to do. I was proud to be carrying a book with a cover that featured a baby latched onto a huge breast into the university gym where I was exercising.

Halfway through my workout, I came to a section about the sacrifices that nursing required, according to LLL. No pacifiers and no relief bottles. No time away from the baby, no babysitters. Exercise might increase the lactic acid in mom’s milk and upset baby’s stomach. And, worst of all, there were some gut-wrenching anecdotes. One written by a nursing mom about taking her baby to her yoga class to nurse her on demand. A couple other preachy ones about how nobody is entitled to a good night’s sleep, and the sign of a maturing mom is that she can be awake all night nursing and soothing a baby and accept it with a smile.

When nursing and motherhood were put at odds with the outlets I knew I needed like exercise, some rest, and time out with my husband, I felt, for the first time during my pregnancy, unsure about motherhood. Once my wits came back, I recalled a passing suggestion from MaryAlice and Red about Babywise.

I devoured every word of On Becoming Babywise, scoffing along with Ezzo at the poor attachment parents who let their babies walk all over them 24/7; attachment parents who are themselves to blame for creating demanding babies (and bratty kids) who are poor sleepers and vomit constantly from overfeeding; attachment parents who go against Biblical principles of training up a child and directing his way by refusing to implement routines for their babies’ well-being; attachment-parenting couples who allow the unreasonable demands of their babies to hijack the well-being of their marriage and their whole family. I was Babywise ALL the way, as a moral and spiritual imperative. WAY over the top, and MUCH mellowing has occurred since my first child was born!!! Funny how that happens : ) I totally believe that parenting style has to do with parental temperaments and family needs.

All in all, though, a Babywise approach has worked great with both of my kids. Bella was a good sleeper from the beginning and fell right into a pleasant routine, allowing me to finish law school with minimal stress caused by newborn unpredictability. Bean was tougher with sleep and colic and sensitivity, but I’m certain that the routines, such as predictable eating and bedtimes, have made his life easier. Crying it out is our sure-fire way to fix sleep issues, and neither child seems traumatized… only happier for achieving better sleep. Predictability (and getting some sleep myself!) have allowed me to maintain a sense of personal and family well-being while having kids close together.

But how about you? Do you love cosleeping and nursing-on-demand because it gives you a built-in chance to snuggle your babies all night after buzzing around busily all day? Because it delays the return of your fertility and gives you a sense of being a part of a greater mother-baby ecology? Or do you like the order of routines and sleep and feeding schedules so that you, the baby and the whole family know what comes next? Did one way of parenting catch your eye from the beginning–was Gary Ezzo the Babywise Guy your knight in shining armor, or did you ease naturally into a more La Leche League, ecological breastfeeding, baby-directed approach. Did your baby’s temperament, your family size, your husband’s thoughts, or anything else lead you to modify your style at any point? How do you incorporate good principles from the various styles to keep your babies and your entire family happy and thriving?

Style points to anyone who cites Sheila Kippley…


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