The village

When it comes to parenting, I’ve made the decision not to listen to “them”.  You know “them”.  “They” are the experts; the doctors or the child psychologists or the older generation of mothers or the newer generation who are all hopped up on the advice given by “them” and taken as gospel.  “They” are firm believers that there is only one way to parent correctly and any variation should not only be frowned upon but pointed out to complete strangers as their duty as part of the village it takes to raise children. 

Yes, it does indeed take a village to raise a child, but we mothers and fathers are the mayor, council, Chief Administrative Officer, judge, jury and disciplinarians of our own children’s villages.  The choices we make as parents should come from a combination of experience (our own), trial and error, and a small dose of solicited advice from “them”, taken with a giant’s serving of salt.

If I want to hold my newborn infant as she naps, then I’m going to do so.  She sleeps better and longer in her mother’s arms, so that’s where she’s going to nap.  I’d rather a well rested baby than a free arm.  That’s a sacrifice I decided was worth making.  We can only hold our children in our arms for so many years, too few years.  I’m going to hold mine as much as possible and make no apologies for it.

If my toddler still cherishes her soother at bedtime, then she can have it.  I fail to see the harm.  Who sees her sleep but me or Anonymous Husband when we check on her?  No one.  And if she finds comfort in that, or in her blankies, or in a nightlight, or in the songs we sing as we tuck her in, then she can have it and them for as long as she wants. 

These decisions, along with those we will make in the future – how long I’ll breastfeed Avery, to Ferber or Sears, jars or homemade baby food, Catholic vs. public school, etc – we’ll make on our own.  We’ll listen to “them”, politely and readily, but the advice given will be thrown into a big mixing bowl and what we come up with will be the best decision for us and the girls. 

And it’s not that I don’t appreciate the good-intentioned advice.  I do.  I understand that through experience comes knowledge and with knowledge comes power and with power comes responsibility.  I just realize that all children are different.  They all respond differently to discipline, so what works with one won’t necessarily work with another.  They all have different palates, so what one child will eat might not be what another will.  They all have different sleep preferences, so what puts and keeps one asleep may wake another up.

So, thank you for your advice.  I’ll keep it in mind if I decide to try something new.  But, for now, I know the choices we’ve made for our children are the best for them and they are going to grow up happy, healthy (God willing), and loved.

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