Thursday, July 10, 2008

American parenting; Where has your common sense gone?

Wow, it’s been almost a whole month since last I blogged, and now, once again, I’m sort of lost as to all that I could go on about. I have a bunch of stuff already written out that I was putting together to comment on Rissa’s site… perhaps I’ll go with that. :-) (My secret is that I’m a terrible speller, so I go into Word, type up my stuff, than copy and paste it into my blog… just easier that way.) :-)
The subject I was commenting on from Rissa’s page, was “You’re still breastfeeding?!?“ ( When Gideon was 6 months old someone said to me “you know, you can wean him now.” I just stated that we’d continue breastfeeding Gideon longer than what was considered “normal” in our culture, and I think she mostly understood. I’ve run into a little judgment when people discover that I am 22 weeks pregnant and still nursing my 17 month old. I’m often asked (or told) “Isn’t that really dangerous for the baby! Doesn’t that cause a miscarriage?” The other funny thing is that people from my church, (or other people who knew that I was doing “extended breastfeeding”) will go out of their way to ask if I am still nursing. As if they know that I’m just some crazy, barefoot, anti-vaccine, attachment parenting psycho and the confirmation of continued breastfeeding is fuel for the flame of speculation.
After becoming a parent I was ABSOLUTLY ASTONISHED at the complete lack of common sense in the world of American parenting. Not just as far as breastfeeding is concerned but almost every aspect of it. EG A) People find out you have your child on a different vaccine schedule (mind you, not anti-vaccine, just a different schedule) than what is commonly used, and people say “You can Do that?!?” “Yes, as the parent, I have the right to decide.” B) Your baby cuts his first tooth and you hear, “Oh, time to start weaning, you wouldn’t want to get bit.” “Well, I’ll just teach him not to do it, he is rather inelegant.” C) “Sorry parents we aren’t allowed to sell ANY cold medicine for infants, apparently some people’s thought process was, ‘if a ¼ tsp. works to alleviate the symptoms, than 2 tsp.’s will kick the cold right out!’” “uhg…” D) “Your baby’s not sleeping through the night yet?!?” “No, he’s only 4 months old, he still needs to nurse throughout the night.” D continued) “He’s not eating any solids yet?!?” “No, he doesn’t have any teeth (being 4 months old, you know) I feel as though operating within the principle of design would mean to not feed him any solids until he at least has 4 teeth for chewing.” E) “Your son has a bit of a runny nose, just bring him to the Dr., he’ll get some antibiotics and he’ll be just fine” “Hello super bugs!” F) Or the whole idea that your child watching Baby Einstein movies can in some way teach your child more than consistent interaction with a parent, doing creative play or otherwise. Man, people are so ridiculous! I don’t believe that these people who say these things are stupid, I just feel as though they don’t recognize their right, or ability to make appropriate decisions for their children.
Anyway, I was told by a well meaning relative several months ago “Well, if you keep letting him nurse he won’t wean for a VERY long time!” “Yes, I know, and I’m actually okay with that.” Was my reply. I didn’t really know what to say. Of course that would happen, and I didn’t really see why it was such a bad thing not to wean for a VERY long time. Gideon was 10 months when she said this. It’s not like he was 4 years old. I think a lot of people think that if you let your child nurse when they desire to, or do child led weaning, you’re giving them some sort of unmerited power over your life that they ought not to have. I wonder what she would say if she knew I was 21 weeks pregnant and still breastfeeding my son. Hmm…
And by the way, I think my milk is almost dried up, but Gideon mostly likes to pacify anyway. Our usual routine is to sit down before bed, he snuggles one of his stuffed animals (usually monkey) and holds his sippy cup, and nurses, sips from his cup, nurses, sips from his cup… It works well for us. The other night though, we sat down and he refused the breast, he just snuggled into me and drank from his sippy cup. “So this is how child led weaning really works” I thought, it was a little sad, but mostly pleasant. The next day in the early morning he lied down with me in bed and nursed for a good 25 minutes, and was more interested in nursing throughout the day than usual. But it was just encouraging to know that child led weaning is working for us, and that even if Gideon does feel the need to increase his nursing time once his baby brother comes along, it’ll be okay. I think many mothers over analyze every single step of motherhood to the point that there’s not much room for just reacting naturally to their children‘s needs. Breastfeeding, which is so natural; within the principle of design, is just a part of mothering. God has naturally given woman an ability not only to feed their babies, but to care for and nurture them as well. The best parenting advise that I EVER received was from my mom, “Just be led by the Holy Spirit, listen as God guides you. He cares for every aspect of our lives, certainly for parenting decisions.” God has given us decision making skills, he’s given us a good dose of common sense, if only we would seize the opportunity to use it, I think our children would be much better off. And in the areas where I think I have chosen to use my God given common sense, It’s been so nice to see the positive evidence of following Gods lead as I raise Gideon. Mothering, it’s a wonderful job!


Rissa said...

You go, girl. It is pretty remarkable - the fact that parenting techniques are rarely dependent on instinct and rather, are dependent on what "experts" are saying. You know, like marriage and family therapists that are single and have no children. Or, a parent whose family is, obviously, completely unique and unlike any other. Of course, there are some very experienced people out there, but the problem is that so many put their trust in MAN. I have been guilty of this. Each time, God gently brings me back to the realization that no one can help me parent my son like He can. He's the ultimate example of parenting, really.
I'm glad you updated. I've been waiting! ;)

Katie said...

Then of course you have relatives like me... who say "Oh! Oh! Are you going to tandem nurse!??? Yay, how cool!!!" ;-)

I hope SO MUCH that I can nurse Shiloh as long as Gideon has nursed! Or longer!! (gosh, I'd feel so lucky)