This morning while coloring with Brennan, I caught a segment on the TODAY show that discussed co-sleeping & some new study that says it's a-okay to do so. Personally, I don't have an issue with it. I've done it, the first time with Brennan because our living arrangements the first 2 years of his life necessitated us sharing the same sleeping space & the second time with Alex because it just made breastfeeding easier. (Shout out to Breastfeeding Week!) With Brennan it was harder to get him to sleep on his own once our living situation changed when he turned 3. It was hard for both of us-we were both used to the comfort. With Alex, though, even though he stayed in the bed with me as an infant, he's preferred his crib since he was about 4mos old. And honestly, so have I- the kid is a constant mover & kicks like Chuck Norris.
So like I said, personally, I have no issue with it. But just because I've done it doesn't mean I'm a proponent or advocate of it either. I'm also not an advocate of baby wearing, breastfeeding, eating au natural or organic, attachment parenting, or anything else. Nor am I against any of them. My parenting style is kind of a mash-up of what I find helpful. I have a moby wrap and a fly stroller. Bottle or Breast? I do both depending on what my circumstances call for or what my body is able to do. Do we eat organic? Sure if I can find it at Wal-mart on sale (sorry, sometimes paying $5-6 for milk that disappears as soon as it goes in my fridge is just a budget buster)...other times I'm fine with regular brands. I prefer to try and cook as much as possible, but I also have a lot of days where Chic-fil-A, Wendy's, Chipotle, & the Golden Arches save my sanity & worn out self.
What I do advocate for and believe in, though, is the idea that every parent, every family doing what works best for them and not judging them for it, regardless of their choices. And that's what bothered me about the TODAY show segment-advocates from both sides (one a doctor & the other a parenting "expert") agreed with the Matt that the stigma surrounding the decision to co-sleep here in the US keeps parents "in the closet" about their choice to do so. The doctor said that the decision to co-sleep is viewed by some as being a "weak parent or not having control over your own kids".
Excuse me, WHAT?! To me that's utterly ridiculous! WHY do we attach such ridiculous & harmful stigmas to things that don't call for it? That's what upset me and has been upsetting me pretty much since I became a parent & what I consider "weak": Parents on opposing sides of parenting issues judging each other.
It's ridiculous really because like life, parenting is not a one size fits all situation. Maybe it's the idealist in me, but on this front, I'm pretty much middle of the road on the stuff that seems to make parents pull out the knives on each other. I don't get the obsession we have, especially in the age of social media, with tar & feathering each other. My motto: make sure you're educated & informed, evaluate your life & circumstances, & then get to the business of doing what works best for you & your family. Whether you go the traditional route or implement an approach that's unconventional, that's not what should matter. What should matter in the parenting community is whether or not we're getting the encouragement, support & advice we need to be the best parents our kiddos need us to be.THAT'S what's important. Not worrying about if a Mama is tweeting too much instead of spending her time being elbow deep in play-doh, bottle or breastfeeding, baby wearing or using a stroller, dads who stay at home,or about parents who choose to circumcise their boys.
I get it. We all have opinions, and we're entitled to having them. But having the right to our own opinions doesn't always give us the right to voice those opinions, much less judge others because their parenting style doesn't fit into the boxes we've constructed for our own lives & children.
So can we put away the pitchforks & torches? Can we stop bullying each other & putting one another on trial? Can we ditch the condemnation & use our voices instead to empower & build each other up? Let's face it: Parenting is not for the faint of heart, especially in this day & age and kids will often make you want to lose your.....sanity. Wouldn't it feel better to know that instead of making the currents we find ourselves in rockier, we had a community of supportive parents in our boat, picking up an oar, & helping us row?
I know I would. And I could care less whether you do it while breastfeeding your baby, letting him cry it out, or feeding her just-pulled-out of the ground carrots. I just need you to help me keep swimming, swimming, swimming.
I've read some other posts this week by Mamas on this subject: Lauren Hale over at My Postpartum Voice, & a couple shared by James & Jax on her Facebook page by Mooshinindy & Our Crazy Corner of the World.
How do you deal with Parental Judgement? Do you get it more from strangers, people online, or family members? What say you? SOUND OFF!