Before I was a parent, I had all sorts of opinions on what parenting should look like. As a nanny, I thought I knew more than your average childless person - and when it comes to experience with children, I did. But there is nothing - not even full-time nannying - that stands in for actual parenting experience, and all of those "I'll never…" I spouted out prior to having a child of my own, well, let's just say they've nearly all fallen by the wayside.
One of the biggest things I frowned upon was in relation to infant sleep (isn't it always?), and how I would surely sleep train my baby and never, ever let it become a habit to have them fall asleep next to me, or - God forbid - let them fall asleep in my bed. I also, on my pre-parenting blog that some of you may remember from years and years back, once posted about how horrified I was that there was a woman nursing what was obviously a toddler too old to be breastfed still - I mean, if they're old enough to ask for it, they're too old, amiright? (*please note the sarcasm*). To this day, that remains the only post I've ever written that I have later felt embarrassed about. Before you AP'ers roll your eyes and leave the page, however, let me get to the heart of this post:
I was wrong.
Now, surely, we can all admit that there is no one way to do anything. But for me, for us, for our particular family, I am so thankful that despite having it all figured out prior to having my babies, I was open enough to parenting philosophies to embrace change and realize that attachment parenting is entirely worth all that you put into it. Extended breastfeeding? Check! I nursed Ava to 27 months, and will let Jack self-wean as well, despite the seemingly never-ending barbs of, "She's still nursing?", or "When are you planning to stop?" It remains one of my most proud accomplishments, and I've accomplished a lot!
Though I was an almost immediate convert from eh-I'll-breastfeed-because-I-know-it's-best to OMG-this-bonding-is-my-favorite-part-of-having-a-newborn, I wasn't as quick to adopt bed-sharing. There is SO much negative stigma attached to bed-sharing, perpetuated mainly by those who know nothing about it and have been misinformed. Rather than the death trap it was made out to be by hospital staff and others, bed-sharing has actually been one of the most amazing gifts I could give, both to myself and to my infants. The first six months of Ava's life were spent in a constant state of fear: Was she breathing? Would she survive infancy? How could I know she was safe without staying awake and watching her breathe? We quickly purchased the popular AngelCare movement monitor that went under her bassinet mattress to ensure she continued to move and breathe, but in order to keep it sensitive enough, it was too sensitive, and the false alarms convinced me that I was awakening to my worst nightmare. Exhausted and at the end of my rope, I read this beautiful and eye-opening article from Dr. Sears when she was nearly six months old, and I've had a baby in my bed every night since.
I'd be lying if I said that it's been the easiest journey, but it surely has been the most peaceful, and the right one for us. I've been met with many condescending remarks and flat-out argumentative and misinformed busybodies, but never once have I regretted my choices to parent with as much love as I possibly can. My babies have never been left to cry themselves to sleep. I know that sleep training is the norm, and again, I'm not here to judge others parenting choices, only to lament what has worked for us, and what I know I won't regret looking back on. But sleep training - really a formal way of saying letting baby cry it out and learn to sleep alone - is not something that sits well with me, nor is it something that works for my family. I don't have all the answers. I don't know how my everyday parenting choices will inevitably effect my children in the long run. But what I do know is this: If I'm going to have to guess either way, isn't it better to err on the side of loving them too much? Isn't it better to be too available to them, rather than leaving them feeling abandoned and isolated? Isn't it preferable to have cuddled them too much, rather than not enough? Those questions formed the basis of my decisions to adopt attachment parenting techniques and formed the foundation of my own personal parenting philosophy, and so I ask today:
What shaped your parenting philosophies? What pre-conceived notions about parenting did you abandon once your own children arrived? Which did you adopt as your own? What are some parenting resources or research articles that swayed your ideas about parenting?