I've been mulling over a series of posts on my parenting philosophy, and now that my summer school class is over, I think I'll start. This is partly for record-keeping and partly for discussion. I want to remember what I was thinking at this point in my parenting experience when I look back. :-)

First, a few caveats: I have one child, who is currently 2.5 years old. What I write here clearly only applies to me and my family, and I don't mean to imply that anyone who does things differently is doing it wrong. I freely admit that I might be doing things wrong here, and I may look back and regret some of the choices I've made. However, as a Slacker Mom, I also feel pretty strongly that children are pretty resilient, and it's unlikely that I'm doing any real damage. On top of this, I only work part time, and I have no idea how things would be different if I worked full time.

With that out of the way, one of the first things I want to write about is Sleep. It's one of the biggest issues on every parenting board, and it seems to be the first question people ask when they see someone with a newborn: "Is he sleeping through the night yet?"

And the answer to this question, IMO, should be... )
I'm reading Parenting For A Peaceful World right now, and it's a fascinating read. It starts by tracing the history of human childhood through the ages, and the picture is not only unpleasant; it's horrific. The author states that prior to the 20th century, there is NO evidence that any child, anywhere, escaped what we would today call severe abuse. I mean seriously -- think about that.

He goes on to make a very strong biological and psychological argument for the way that mass abuse of children has shaped human history. He traces the rise of the most brutal regimes in western history to violent and abusive parenting approaches that numbed generations of people into submission. He also shows that peaceful movements and changes in societies can be traced to positive changes in parenting approaches. In other words, the way we (as a society) parent our children has a huge impact on the world, much bigger than any of us realize.

I can't do it justice in a few paragraphs, so I highly recommend it. I think it should be required reading for parenting or working with children in any capacity, actually. Here is a video that summarizes some of the main points, but even that doesn't do it justice.



I think one of the things I've gotten from this book that I didn't expect is that we in the AP community often claim that we're parenting the way humans were "meant" to parent. But there is very little evidence that human children were ever parented this way. We're forging new paths, and rather than look back at a romanticized, inaccurate vision of the past, we should look forward.

I could go on and on. Fascinating!

The link above goes to Amazon, btw. Read the reviews for even more accolades.
I keep recommending this article to people, and I thought I should post it here for my own reference. It's a quick read, and really shifted the way I think about tantrums.

Cry for Connection: A Fresh Approach to Tantrums, by Patty Wipfler.

Full text under the cut )
The more I read parenting magazines (with the possible exception of Mothering), the more I realize that your perspective plays a huge issue in what you see as a discipline/parenting problem. There are so many things I see and hear parents of toddlers say about the various discipline problems and sleep problems and eating problems they're having with their children, and I am really, honestly baffled.

It's not that my son is an angel who doesn't do any of the things they mention; it's that I don't see those things as problems, you know?

Yes, he often throws more food on the floor than he eats. He's learning about textures and colors and gravity, and he's experimenting with all of those things. Sometimes that is more exciting than eating, and sometimes he's just not that hungry. So I just put a towel under the high chair to catch it all. Some of what he drops he will eventually eat, when I put it back up there. He's also sorting, which is an important mathematical concept. If I look at what he tosses and what's left, there's usually a pattern to it. I actually get excited watching him sometimes!

Yes, he sometimes fights naps and bedtime. But this is his way of telling us he has more energy to burn off, that he needs a little more time to settle down. So we don't fight back. If he's not sleepy, we don't push it; we just let him play more. He will almost always be ready to sleep within another half hour. Sometimes it would be a heck of a lot more convenient for me if he would go to sleep at a particular time, but why should my needs always supersede his? And hey, that's another half hour of quality time I get to spend with Carter, so it's all good.

Yes, he wakes up several times a night to nurse back to sleep. We cosleep, so this isn't a problem for me -- I can go right back to sleep after arranging my boob for him. Nursing ALWAYS works in the middle of the night, and it's the quickest way to get us both back to sleep. And there are patterns in his waking: Some nights he barely wakes at all, and then there will be a period of a week where he wakes a lot every night. Those periods always correspond with something big, like getting 4 molars at once, or making some big cognitive leap. Of course the poor kid needs extra cuddles on those nights. Being a toddler is hard!

Yes, he pulls the cat's tail, and splashes in the toilet, and does lots of other things we've redirected him from dozens (if not hundreds) of times. And yes, sometimes he even says "no" right before he does them, giving the impression that he is being defiant. But at this age, defiance doesn't apply. Defiance is a concept adults have, one that we think we see in them, but toddlers do not think the same way adults do. Children aren't capable of considering how others think and feel until they're closer to school age, and they would have to be able to do that in order to intentionally be defiant. So we keep redirecting, keep reminding him what the limits are, or better yet, remove the temptation (e.g. put a lock on the toilet lid) so he doesn't keep coming up against a limit he doesn't understand.

Yes, he has temper tantrums and meltdowns when things don't go exactly as he expected or wanted. Toddlers need to vent their emotions, which are often very strong and confusing. He doesn't understand why we have to leave to playground now, just when he was having fun. He is angry and frustrated, so he cries and screams. I hold him and tell him I understand why he is upset, and eventually he gets it all out and he gets over it. We move on. As he gets older, he'll learn how to handle those emotions, but for now it's important that I not squash them or ignore them or distract him from him in an effort to make him not feel them. That only teaches him that emotions are bad, things to be avoided. That's not healthy!

So I don't see any of those things as PROBLEMS that need to be fixed. Those are totally normal, developmentally appropriate behaviors. He's not even two years old, for chrissakes! I don't expect him to understand and behave like a 5yo child. He'll get there, and my job is to support and guide him. I know we'll get to things that actually are problematic, but right now, there's honestly nothing I feel is a problem.

Maybe I'm just lucky to have a really easy-going kid, but I really think it comes down to perspective in a lot of cases. :-/
Surviving the Toddler Years, by Naomi Aldort.

Text beneath the cut. )

And this one, from Alfie Kohn, nails what has always bugged me about Supernanny and similar shows:

Atrocious Advice from "Supernanny", by Alfie Kohn.

Full text here )

Rant.

May. 28th, 2009 02:22 pm
Sometimes I just have to close the BC window and walk away. Someone just posted in one of the forums that she was trying to let her 1yo CIO, but for the last three nights, her daughter cried until she vomited Amazingly enough, she wasn't sure what she should do. And THEN people were suggesting she just stick with it, and not even clean up the vomit. (Apparently this baby is just vomiting to get attention, and that'll teach her not to do it any more.) 0_0

I'm sorry, but NO. Nuh-uh. That is lazy, crappy, cruel parenting, end of story. I am vehemently against CIO in any form, but I know people do it and it works for them. But if your baby cries until she vomits, repeatedly, it is clearly NOT WORKING, okay?

Step up and be a damn parent. Just because your child inconveniently needs parenting in the middle of the night when you would rather be sleeping is no excuse.

Now excuse me while I try not to vomit thinking about that poor baby.

</rant>
Since Carter is heading rapidly toward toddlerhood, I've been doing some reading on discipline. I started out by reading The Discipline Book by Sears et al, which was a great read, but more about how you should base your disciplinary approach on your strong relationship with your child than any specific strategies. It started me down the path I was looking for, though.

So I branched out from Sears and started reading... )

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