Thursday, 8 September 2011

The Baby Book and Parenting Styles

I've finished August's book, albeit a teeny bit late (kind of slowed down towards the end there!), and so onto another book.  This month I'm starting The Baby Book by Dr. Sears.  It will no doubt take me much longer than a month to read it, it's quite long and I tend to read in tiny bits and pieces rather than big chunks at a time.  As with the last book, I have already read this one before, maybe even twice.  It is a great resource with lots of information not just about babies, but a broad range of topics including attachment parenting, breastfeeding, labour, birth and postpartum, toddlers, and so on.

Whenever I read (or re-read) a book, I tend to get bombarded with a slew of my own thoughts and emotions regarding my own parenting experiences.  There is often that feeling when looking back, thinking "Did I do the right thing at the time?"  I also find my opinions are constantly changing based on my own experience over the years.  When I first read The Baby Book my older son was a newborn, and it all made so much sense to me - the babywearing, the sleep sharing, listening to my baby and reading his ever cue.  As a new mother I thought it was brilliant.  I soon discovered that not everything is for everyone.  Take co-sleeping for example, something that sounds so beautiful in a book turned out to be not right for our particular family.  While in the early weeks it did make my life easier, I soon realized that both my baby and I slept better in different rooms.  End of story.

So then I changed my point of view, thinking that attachment parenting was not all it was cracked up to be.  I read a few other books in the meantime, and took from each what was helpful.  Some books were more helpful than others.  Some were the total opposite of attachment parenting, and others preached a happy medium where they said it was ok to not feel like a mother has to be 'all baby all the time'.  We developed our own sense of what worked based on all of this.

And funnily enough, going back and reading the Sears book again, now that my boys are just a bit older than last time, I am starting to see where he is coming from.  That whatever parenting style you choose has to be what fits your family.  It doesn't have to be an all or nothing deal.

Parenting is a journey that starts when you find out you are pregnant.  And it doesn't stop at any one point, it is ongoing and ever changing, and you are always learning.  So many times I look back and think "If I knew then what I know now" - with my pregnancies, with my births, with my children as tiny babies, then older babies, and now toddlers.  It makes me feel like I want another chance to do it all again, just so I can do it right.

It's hard to think that you might have somehow did it 'wrong' with your child in the beginning, like there was a better way.  But there is no way of knowing how things will be, no matter how prepared you are.

But then I realize that I did do it 'right'.  I didn't always know what was best, but I was learning and my babies were learning with me.  We have been on this journey together, helping each other through it.  I have read a lot of books, and there are a lot more to be read I am sure.  I have felt overwhelmed at times thinking I should be doing things a certain way.  Then I realized that I have done things the right way for us.  I have taken from the books I've read what has applied and worked for us.  Not every thing suits every family.

In any case, I have a poor teething toddler who is once again up from his nap early and upset calling for me, and so while I think I probably had more to add to this post, it will have to wait for now because he calls.

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