Since joining the ranks of parenthood, I am painfully aware of how parenting choices and styles are polarizing, much like religion and politics. Everyone has an opinion and naturally theirs is THE ONE. Each day when I log on to my Facebook account, I am assaulted by the plethora of shared posts that make claims of how and why parents should do certain things, or not. Everyone seems to have a strong opinion about all things parenting from when to introduce solid foods to when kids should start school. I’m not talking about when people share tips/ tricks about what they find helpful (isn’t that what I often do here?). One can simply take or leave such advice, that’s simple. I’m referring more to articles that put down other methods and claim to monopolize the truth or attempt to make other parents feel insecure about their decisions. The majority of the time, I find that posts or articles of this nature are not substantiated by scientific research, but are mere opinions of the authors. I feel confident in the parenting choices I make with my spouse, carefully discerning what’s best for us. I don’t think my children need to be saved from our parenting style.
Here’s the deal: when it comes to your kids, I think you should have opinions about what you chose to do and what fits your family’s needs, and those decisions should be well thought. However, I’m baffled at the way some parents stake righteous claims, putting down and sometimes condemning the choices of others. Like so many things in life, there are multiple ways to parent a child. While one method may work perfectly for your family, it may not be the best means for another.
For example, George and I found Babywise to be helpful to us in getting our quadruplets to sleep through the night and follow a schedule. We did not follow it strictly, but we used it to inspire our parenting choices, and it worked well for us. I felt highly insulted when a friend posted claims and articles about how Babywise was abusive and caused psychological damage. On the other hand, another friend publicly admitted she planned to be a “Babywise Mom”, but did everything just the opposite. She did not condemn Babywise at all, but instead admitted she found another way that worked for her family. I appreciated her take immensely. Will I follow her lead and co bed and feed on demand? Nope. Do I respect her decision? Absolutely!
Another hot button issue for me is about when to turn car seats around. There is currently a buzz about keeping children rear facing until school age. I agree it is probably best practice; however in accordance with both our vehicle and car seat manufacturer’s guidelines (age and weight requirements), we turned two of our car seats around. Gasp! I know, they’re under age two, and that’s not what many are recommending. At the same time, rear facing four toddlers is a monumental task. With all four no longer in infant seats, we were forced to load two babies via the back hatch and pull dangerous Gumby maneuvers to do it. Thanks to my Diastasis Recti, my back radiated pain with each loading/ unloading. Furthermore, keeping a rear facing seat behind the driver meant the driver could not safely operate the accelerator and breaks because the driver’s seat was so close to the steering wheel. Really, aside from a daycare van, no vehicle is intended to hold four infant seats anyways. Some may say we’re making excuses. Okay. I’d say we are making a choice that works for our family, and we’re comfortable with it. There are plenty more examples, but I’m sure you get the point by now.
Earlier in the week, I posted about 5 Things I’d NEVER do. Reflecting on our current family status, it became apparent to me that my viewpoints, habits, and decisions changed drastically after having quadruplets. There is absolutely no way to know what you may or may not do in a given situation until you are in it. So why pass judgements? Even parents of high order multiples the same age as ours may find different methods work best for their family. That’s because each family is absolutely unique.
When it comes down to it, I believe that parents attempt to force their opinions on others as a means of validation that they are right, and it’s easy to hide behind online means to do it. Instead, I’d love to see parents make their own decisions, sharing what they find helpful and simply respect the parenting styles of their peers who differ. I know I shouldn’t get ruffled when I see polarizing posts, I just wish others would share their views in a less judgmental, black/ white way sometimes.
What parenting choices have you made that were criticized by others?