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.