Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My Philosophy

Whether you love Dr. Sears, Dr. Ferber, The Happiest Baby on the Block technique, Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child, or The No-Cry Sleep Method, you soon learn that none of them are right. At least, for very long. And I've tried them all...and then some.
It seems everyone chooses a parenting philosophy (yes, that's what all these different books and websites are called, "philosophies") at some point. You read a book and you think, yeah. That makes sense. So you decide that when your baby cries it means he or she has a deep need to feel you close. Or when your baby fusses before a nap, it's just his or her way of settling down. Or if you give the baby a chance to cry and he or she takes a good long sleep afterwards, then the crying was all worth it. You pick one of them and that's how you're going to raise your child.
Then you have your baby and whatever parenting philosophy you bought all the books for doesn't work at all and you have to start reading the other books. Except now you're sleep deprived. And soon, you've chosen a different philosophy that suddenly makes MORE sense than the first one, not to mention completely contradicts it. You try that one for a few days and once it proves to be utterly useless, you begin to adopt the philosophies that you swore you NEVER would because "That's ridiculous" and "I'm not going to be one of those parents."
And then that stupid philosophy works. And you eat your words and take a nap because your baby is finally sleeping.
As hard as I tried to convince Abe that attachment-style parenting was what he wanted, he has proven otherwise. He is extremely independent. He doesn't particularly care to sleep next to me ("co-sleep") or snuggle. He's perfectly content to sleep in his crib, upstairs, many feet away from us. If he's fussing in his crib, he does best when I just leave him alone. It took a while for me to figure this out because I was NOT going to be one of those parents who just let their child CRY. I would go to him and assure him I loved him forever. But you know what? When he cries or fusses during a daytime nap for 5 minutes BY HIMSELF, he usually sleeps for an hour afterward (at least!). When I rush to his crib-side and furiously pat his bottom and assure him that I would never leave him, his crying gets louder and angrier. GOD FORBID I then pick him up. The head-butting and boob punching then begins. And sure, I can try to nurse him to calm him down, but he typically just plays around for a few minutes and then goes back to screaming until I set him down to nap. I imagine he's saying something like, "WOMAN! PUT ME DOWN! I have to grunt like that in the crib to turn my head to get comfortable! Oh great, now you're going to pick me up. That's just perfect. Exactly what I wanted when I was half asleep and about to be fully asleep again if you would have let me finish CHANGING POSITIONS. Oh, boob? Ok, well, I mean, I'll hang out around here for a minute. But I'm not really hungry. So I guess there's no point. WOMAN! PUT ME BACK DOWN IN THAT CRIB!" He likes his sleep. He is his father's child.

Now don't get me wrong, these books all have interesting and somewhat helpful points. They certainly made me think about new ways of approaching my baby. But the truth is, parents don't choose philosophies. Babies do. So if you don't yet have a kid and you're thinking of buying a book about how to best help your baby sleep or eat or poop, stop yourself and decide you won't be another sucker to donate to Dr. Whoever's great-grandchild's trust fund. Dr. Whoever doesn't have to live with Abe and unless I tent the books over Abe's face when he's screaming to help muffle the sound, it doesn't do me much good at 4am.

1 comment:

  1. AMEN! I was NOT going to co-sleep with my daughter, but she changed my mind. She decided that she would like to be in our bed for 7.5 months. That worked best for her, and in turn for us. She's so smart. LOL. So, I decided that my son would follow suit. I put him in our bed for the first 6 weeks. And guess what...he would NOT sleep!!!! It took me six LONG weeks to figure out that he wanted to be in his crib, in his own room, on his tummy. Stupid mommy. LOL