Sick is our new normal, parenting under a microscope

I’ve been trying to figure out how to express my opinion regarding a big parenting issue in my life. I don’t want to offend anyone. I don’t want to preach that my way is the right way and everyone else is just a hater. But I’ve felt pushed to parent in ways outside of my comfort zone and instincts lately (a little by my wife, a little by friends, and a lot by my own insecurities and self doubt).

Avery has been sick about 80% of the time since starting daycare (we’ve all been sick. Right now I’m nursing a fever in the bathtub). She has been extra needy and whiney. I feel like I can tell the difference when she is starting a tantrum that she can get herself out of and a tantrum that will only escalate without outside comfort. I feel like the severity of her tantrums and whininess and clinginess is directly related to her not feeling well. But others around me see me pick her up when she cries and I get shamed for teaching her that crying gets her what she wants.

In my eyes, I parent fairly. I don’t let Avery take advantage of me. If she wants my phone or she won’t lay down to have her diaper changed, I don’t give in. I even let her cry, standing outside the shower, for 20 minutes last week because I wasn’t going to get out with soap in my hair to comfort her when she knew I was right there, reassuring her with my voice.

But when my instincts say, “this is a different cry. She really needs closeness right now,” I’m going to pick up my baby and give her closeness. I don’t baby talk her when that happens. I extend my calmness to her, let her know that I see she is feeling angry/sad/etc., and then I offer her distraction, or get her back on the horse. But if she wants her mom to give her a hug, I usually do. 

My wife and I had a few evenings of discussion around this issue. She sees me as always giving into her cries with hugs. She doesn’t see the times I’m the bad guy. We’ve both agreed to work on our parenting in order to be more in line with each other. 

To be clear, our goals are the same for our daughter. We want her to be independent but comfortable with emotion. We want her to feel unconditional love. We want her to learn patience, and to respect people. But apparently, according to my audience, I’m going to raise her to be a dependent, mama’s girl who can’t soothe herself or solve her own problems (ok, maybe I’m being a bit dramatic, but I feel judged). 

I don’t know and frankly I don’t care who’s right by the textbooks and parenting literature. I am parenting in the best way I can. 

Let’s just hope that we all see a season of health very soon, and our baby will start to show her independent side when she’s feeling better. 


13 thoughts on “Sick is our new normal, parenting under a microscope

  1. I am a firm believer that so long as your children and loved and cared for that’s all that matters. And I know you love your little girl and parent in your way, and that’s all that matters!!! I wish people didn’t judge other parents so much!
    Also, here they say the first few months of daycare are the worst for sickness. And the first fall cold season is the absolute worse – we are all sick and have been for a while now. ☹

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  2. I’m sorry people are judging you. In the end, you have to do what makes you comfortable. If your gut is telling you that she needs you, then just do it. I sometimes question myself with reacting to C’s whining or crying as well. I’m trying to really focus lately on teaching her that she has to ask for more, instead of pointing and whining or screaming…things like that. I feel like with them, there’s a very fine line sometimes. They’re babies, they can’t communicate the way we can, so they get frustrated or upset. Nobody but your wife has the right to say anything to you about how you handle that situation. And like with everything else that has to do with her, you have to come to some sort of similarity on how you do deal with it. Hang in there, I think you’re doing a great job! (And hope you all feel better soon!)


  3. She’s still kind of young for it to be manipulation tactics. Closer to 2, they get pretty good at pulling mom’s strings and you might need to re-evaluate stuff. But she’s only what, not even a year and a half? Still a baby.

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  4. This is funny because it’s a place that we’re experiencing almost the opposite. I totally understand what you mean about knowing the difference in the cries. I can now listen in on our daughter who should be sleeping and hear whether she’s just whining/crying or if she truly needs me to go in (fear, sadness). My wife, however, rushes to her at every opportunity that she whimpers (trip, stumble, bonk, nearly fall..) and does the baby talk thing. I know that my wife is doing it because she sees it as an opportunity to connect/nurture and strengthen their bond. I haven’t said anything yet, because I really don’t want it to look like I’m inhibiting their bonding (it;s a sensitive subject in our house because baby reaches for me most of the time).

    I would say, as always, trust your instinct and respond to your baby as you see fit. Children who know they get “help” and comfort when they need it early on go on to be stronger, more independent adults. Letting them feel alone and like no one will help them makes them insecure and seeking that support/assistance in the future.

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  5. I’m sorry you’re feeling judged. Why don’t people just let parents be?? You do what’s best for you and your daughter. I read somewhere that toddlers are losing all day – they tend to be the shortest, slowest, clumsiest, least verbal people in the room so no wonder they get easily frustrated. You’re doing a great job!!

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  6. You know, I’m pretty practical most of the time as a parent. I had grand plans for attachment parenting, but in reality I fall more middle of the road–mainly because that’s what works best for me and Charlotte. That said, I have almost always scooped her up when she’s crying. Now that she’s old enough to ask, I still do it. My take is that if my wife approached me and said, “I really need/want a hug,” I wouldn’t tell her to suck it up and turn my back on her. I literally walked out of a parent teacher conference 45 minutes ago having been told that my kid is an independent social butterfly and “the glue that holds the class together.” I think we’re doing just fine, and I’m going to continue to cuddle my kid when she needs me to–and also when she WANTS me to. (I mean, assuming I’m not in the shower with a head full of shampoo!) There will come a day when she’ll get her hugs from someone else–I earned all the cuddles I can get right now.

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  7. I was going to write exactly what Molly said. If anyone came to me asking for a hug, I’d give them it, so why not my own child? I do sometimes pause if it seems she’s crying out of frustration (why is something in her way?!) or I currently have my hands full. We need more compassion in the world, not less.

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  8. For the last month J has been in the most challenging phase she has ever been in (new baby, understandable, but yikes). She whines, she does naughty things and says “look what I did!”, she threw things at her granny, she has tantrums when she doesn’t get what she wants. I’m firm when it comes to not giving in to unreasonable demands, but I feel like if she wants hugs, that has less to do with trying to get what she wants and more to do with needing comfort as she navigates her upset and frustration at not being in control. As parents, we get to be both the ‘bad guy’ who interferes with our kid’s autonomy and also the one who takes the pain away almost at the same time.
    I think your parenting sounds fair and consistent and loving. Avery’s a lucky kid. Hope you get a stretch of healthy soon!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! It’s too bad toddlers/kids don’t get how hard it is on parents to have a new baby around… Then maybe they wouldn’t have so many huge dramatic emotions around getting siblings… I hope things settle into a new normal for her soon so she can go back to being her slightly less feisty self!

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