Why Parenting is like Religion & Politics

Why Parenting

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?

hugs,

Amber

26 thoughts on “Why Parenting is like Religion & Politics

  1. Are your children happy and healthy? Then you’re doing something right. Don’t worry what others say. You will run into this until your children are grown and you’ll go crazy if you give what others say another thought. There is no right way. All kids are different and all families are different. Do what is right for you and forget about it.

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    • So true! Thank you for being the voice of reason. I think I hear a little Dr. Knapp in your voice.
      I’m sure I’ll hear other people’s advice, criticism, ect even when they are all grown raising their own children. 😉

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  2. If your driver’s seat has to be that far forward due to a rear-facing car seat, then you purchased the wrong seat. There are many convertible seats that take up less room than some infant carriers. The Guide 65 (sold at WalMart for less than $80) is a seat that takes up very little room and will get most average size children to 3 years old rear-facing, some longer than that depending on their height and weight. It’s not a matter of “opinion” or “parenting style” it’s a matter of life and death if you are in an accident. Here are the facts behind this matter and why rear-facing is important for young children because their spines are not yet fully developed: http://csftl.org/why-rear-facing-the-science-junkies-guide/
    And let’s be clear: I’m NOT judging you. I’m NOT saying mean things about you or your parenting style. All I am doing is presenting facts so that you can make an informed choice. It really is extremely dangerous. You are very good parents and that is all I am going to say. Thank you for reading.

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    • Thank you for presenting information, but in telling me “you purchased the wrong seat” and “It really is extremely dangerous”, you are passing judgement aren’t you? That’s okay, I knew in writing this there would be disagreement and I accepted that when I hit “publish”. The seats we purchased were designed with multiples in mind and have a slim design, yet when rear faced they take up A LOT of room. We spent a great deal of time comparing safety ratings, ect when we chose the seats we have. Clearly our seven passenger van was not intended for multiples as it only has three LATCH systems and two back tethers. It’s not ideal, but we are comfortable with the arrangement of our car seats given what we currently have. We are just doing what works.

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  3. Continuing to breast feed while pregnant. I don’t have a plan to stop – it’s sporadic and mostly for comfort (hopefully with some immune system benefits thrown in there), but I know that she is not ready to stop. What will happen when #2 gets here? I am not sure, but whatever happens will be what is best for my family. ❤

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  4. I so relate to every aspect of this…especially the car seats! Having multiples means you have to parent in a different was to begin with, sometimes it’s all about survival, whether that means bottle propping, not being able to rock or cuddle each baby as much as you’d like ( I struggle with this), or feeding them a less than nutritious lunch. We beat ourselves up enough as parents, no need to let other people do it too!

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    • If anyone could relate, it would be a MoM 😉 With multiples, we have to make sacrifices we don’t necessarily want to make, but it’s reality. I totally agree, we are really hard on ourselves as it is, and it is like salt to a would when others attack.

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  5. Amber, you and George have made honest, prayer filled decisions since day one of this journey. I applaud what ya’ll have accomplished and am so glad to see healthy, happy babies in all of the pictures/videos that you present. As long as you and George are at peace with the decisions you have made, everyone else needs to butt out unless you ask them directly for their opinions. There will be opinion givers forever, trust me. My girls are 41 and 38, I still get opinions every once in a while. I just say they are living their own lives. I am in awe of what you and George have managed to do and how well the babies are growing and doing, hitting their milestones as they should. Just keep doing what you are doing and put the naysayers at your back where they belong. God’s blessings on all. Love you girl!!!!

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    • Thank you, Susan! We don’t take our parenting lightly and appreciate your support. Isn’t it funny how even though your children are grown others still share opinions about your parenting?

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  6. I think you guys are amazing, and make well informed, educated decisions when parenting your bubs.
    Certain people will always have strong, overbearing opinions which hurt, and I agree, why can we just give advice not opinions.
    I’m from Oz (Australia) and we turn our bubs around at 6 mths or 9kg. I can’t imagine having an older child facing rearward, this is going to sound silly but where do their feet go?
    I’m also a babywise mum and have copped flack for it, but hey, my daughter was sleeping through at 9 weeks and was the most content baby people used to comment that they’d never heard her cry.
    You’re doing a great job, keep it up, your babies are beautiful 🙂

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    • Hi Bec,

      Thank you so much for your support! I love how you call babies “Bubs” in Australia. For some reason, I call Harper, “Bubby”, which reminds me of “Bubs”.
      I have absolutely NO idea where the legs of a six year old rear facing would go. Sounds tricky to me. Yikes!
      Just like the Babywise book says, people will tell you that you have the most content baby, but it comes from your parenting. Props to you for making decisions that work for you even with flack you get. =)

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  7. I completely agree! It seems like everyone is an expert these days, and everyone wants to write a parenting article that goes viral. Ugh! I didn’t even read a single parenting book after my first was born…gasp! I learned everything I needed to know from the NICU, and he slept through the night from the time we brought him home.

    Every child is so different, how can people possibly make blanket statements? Drives me nuts.

    You do what you gotta do, and it seems that you’re doing a great job!

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    • LOL, I think you’re right, everyone wants to write the “viral” parenting article that is the “go to”. While I would not wish a NICU stay on anyone, we learned everything we needed to know from our NICU nurses. They were outstanding. And, the NICU gets them on a great schedule =)

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  8. I did not breast feed my twins, I pumped and formula fed as it was easier for our family. Less stress in the feeding area with the arrival of multiples and it didn’t take extra time from my 3 year old. We also turned our car seats around at 1 year of age and followed baby wise. I pretty much got negative little comments from my mother in law in all area except the car seat….grrrrrr

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    • It sounds like you and I are on the same wave length. Seriously, multiples cause you to do things a different way because they break the rules just by virtue of being multiples. Mother in laws have a way of getting to us, don’t they?

      Keep doing what works for you!

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  9. I feel like all of this advice is especially hard to navigate when you have tiny infants. You are stressed, sleep-deprived, recovering physically, AND trying to sort through all this disparate advice that is given (sometimes preached) to you. I remember people saying: “Oh no, never let your child sleep in the swing; he’ll never learn to sleep in a crib.” Or: “Don’t introduce the bottle before three weeks; he’ll forget how to breastfeed.” Or: “Don’t rock your baby to sleep or he’ll NEVER learn to self soothe.” Lo and behold, none of these things really mattered. None of the threats materialized, or if something was off, you found a way to work around it, and it was not that big a deal. It wasn’t as drastic as people made it sound. If I could give a new parent any advice it would be not to stress about those kinds of things.

    This is kind of off-topic from your post. But anyways, I agree with everything you wrote too. I am just trying my best, and I am going to assume that others are trying their best and leave it at that!

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    • Yessssss! It is so difficult for first time parents to sift through all that advice, especially when the majority of it is polarized. “Always keep your baby next to you while sleeping to promote parent/ child bonding and nursing” vs “NEVER let a child sleep in your bed or room, it will disrupt sleep for everyone and poses a hazard.” UGH!
      I believe the majority of parents really are trying very hard and deserve the benefit of the doubt without harsh judgement.

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  10. It always amazes me which post get the most comments. It’s the one that so many moms are thinking but few are willing to voice. I currently am getting a ton of feedback from my latest post on discipline from my twin group. You did great! But not all large passenger vans are for day cares!!!!!

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    • You are exactly right! It seems as though moms often have the same “issues” they want to express and when someone does, it causes a buzz. I love getting people’s perspective on issues like this too.
      I just read your post about discipline and now I understand this comment better. Your post was great! Most parents don’t want to spank, but find that other preferred methods don’t always work. Then they don’t want to admit they spank. Thank you for bravely admitting the truth. And, keep doing what works!!!
      LOL about the daycare van. Are you telling me your 10 passenger van is not well equipped for seven car seats? Seriously, car manufacturers do not have large families in mind. Our seven passenger van only has three LATCH systems suggesting they figured most people would have three or less in car seats.

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  11. I love how you said, “Do I respect her choice. Absolutely!” That it. It’s about respect and knowing you should not judge others. To think your way is THE way seems arrogant to me. If there is true physical abuse or neglect, well then report it to SRS. If it doesn’t fall into that category and the kids in question are loved and thriving, then what the heck?

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  12. Preach it sister! Great post. And I for one was so happy when you told me you forward faced the seats because I just knew there would be no way to fit four rear facing, either! It’s always wonderful when I can see how you problem solve our fun conundrums!

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    • I’m glad you appreciated it! I’m sure every parent feels frustrated by all the conflicting advice, but with HoMs it just exacerbated!
      I was so happy to see Aimee forward face too because I knew I wasn’t totally batty for doing it, and I’m glad you are too. I’m always so happy to share this journey with all of you!
      PS- If you see the comments on this post, you’ll see one person could just not take it and told me why I chose the wrong seat and it’s dangerous.

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