Against the Grain: When Your Family Thinks Your Parenting Style is Wrong

pregnant_momBy Alissa Smith. Find more posts like this one on Attachment Parenting International.

I wrote here about the struggles that arise when your parents disagree with your parenting.  The feedback was overwhelming and I have decided to share my own story of going against the grain and my path to attachment parenting.  I do this in the hopes that you will take a few minutes to share your stories about overcoming prejudice, digging deep to make wise decisions, and sometimes defending those decisions.

In a world where many moms and dads (including me) live far away from most of their extended family, in a world where attachment parenting seems radical, stories and advice from people like you are what inspired me, encouraged me, and ultimately kept me from pulling all my hair out.  Let’s collect stories and be a tribe of support and encouragement to one another.

I am a researcher, a soul searcher, and a believer in the power of intuition.  My husband teases me that my motto is “If you don’t know, look it up until you do know.”  So when I found out I was pregnant, I took one of the Attachment Parenting principles seriously:

Become emotionally and physically prepared for pregnancy and birth. Research available options for healthcare providers and birthing environments, and become informed about routine newborn care.

I immediately started doing research, listening to my gut, figuring things out.  There are so many decisions to be made when you are expecting!  Triple screen or no triple screen?  Ultrasound or no ultrasound?  Hospital delivery or home delivery?  How do I feel about epidurals?  How long do I want to labor at home?  What if I go past 40 weeks?  On and on and on with the questions.

Every woman has to make these decisions for herself.  I made these decisions based on research and intuition.  A lot of these decisions were the exact opposite of what everyone in my family wanted me to decide.  A lot of decisions were scary.  Maybe my family is just nuts, but I think everyone’s family is a little nuts.  I wanted my family (and close friends) to agree with me.  I wanted their admiration and respect.  I wanted them to be on board.  But in the end I just had to stop listening to everyone and start listening to myself.  It was just draining having to defend myself and explain over and over.  But I wanted to include my family as much as I could even though they thought I was crazy.

Maybe my process would have been easier if I had more support, if I had been raised in an environment that celebrated birth.  But I didn’t have that kind of support.

When I found out I was pregnant I called my mom first.  My mother said: “Have you scheduled your C-section yet?” No joke.

When I decided that I didn’t want an epidural my mom said: “Well you just have such low pain tolerance, and really, what’s the point to going through all that pain if you could just have the epidural and relax and watch TV?”  (My point is not really about the epidural, I am not violently opposed to epidurals.  I just think that when your daughter tells you she’s been doing all this research and has decided that an epidural is not the right choice for her, you should respond with support and encouragement, not try to talk her out of it and undermine her determination.)

When I chose to deliver with a midwife my family thought I was putting my unborn child in grave danger.

I struggled, you guys.  I struggled with every little decision that I made.  And that was before my little man was even here!

I try to think about my kids growing up and having kids.  What will be the norm to them?  What new history am I writing for them?  And that encourages me.

You are writing a new history for the next generation.  What kind of history are you writing for them?  Were some of your decisions during pregnancy difficult to make?  Did you feel supported?  How did you deal with critics?  Do you come from an Attachment Parenting kind of family?

Image credit: Sean McGrath

29 thoughts on “Against the Grain: When Your Family Thinks Your Parenting Style is Wrong”

  1. I decided to have a home birth with my second child and my dad was texting me until the day before BEGGING me to change my mind. And he refused to really talk about it or hear anything I had to say. I just stopped talking to him or reading his texts until after the baby was born. At home.

  2. My second child was born at home with a midwife, and my third will be in December. We did not tell my disapproving, close-minded family that it was a homebirth until afterwards. We lied. Our midwife (my husband’s sister) has a clinic as well and we said our daughter would be born there even though we knew the whole time she would be born at home. It made our life much easier:)

  3. Luckily I have a family who, even when they don’t agree, don’t see it as their place to give unwanted opinions or advice. I had a midwife with my first, and their were questions, but honest questions. When they were answered, they were not asked again. When I breastfed her till she was over 3 yrs, I know my parents and siblings though I was ‘overdoing the weird’ a little, but I never really have them space to say anything. I wouldn’t have listened, maybe they knew that 😉 And then, I got pregnant with twins. And THEN announced that I would most definitely be having a homebirth now. There were a few questions, and I could tell a lot if fear behind them. I answered them. But mostly they didn’t say much. (My dad had passed away two years prior, or else I think that would be different;) They know I do things my way, it’s always been the way things worked in our family. It wasn’t until after the boys arrived that my mom admitted how scared she was and my sister broke down in tears upon first meeting them at her relief at the outcome….and then also told me how much she admired that I was not afraid to ‘go against the grain’ for what I believed safest for my children. I am a blessed daughter/sister/wife/mother!

  4. My family is ridiculous! Thank goodness I was far from home when I had my first two. However I was living with my parents (nasty divorce had just happened) when My son was born. When I gave birth to my son, my dad stopped one of the nurses in the hallway to get them to circumcise him behind my back. Luckily the nurse knew my wishes and told him that they couldn’t do that. When my little man was 2 months old my parents told me I could stop nursing him as he got every thing he needed already. I wasn’t allowed to cloth diaper, they thought I was being neglectful by putting him on an delayed vaccine schedule. They would yell at me for co-sleeping and tell me I was going to spoil him by wearing him. They drove me nuts.

  5. I didn’t get much push back about my home birth, with my son, but I felt the disapproval over my breastfeeding him.. more from my dad, some what my mom. My dad would full out yell at me for nursing my baby once covered up at the dinner table with them when we were visiting. Or in public. No one else really cared. My mom freaked out when my breastfed son spit up on her but not so much when my formula fed daughter before him did the same.. because it was my “bodily fluids” Oh well past is past, my youngest turned 6 yesterday and it is all in the past, my family still loves me and I still love them despite the difference. my mom however was very supportive of our decision to not circumcise our son. Admitted she was never comfortable with the idea for her own kids and was glad she just had girls. My dad never said his opinion nor did he seem to care. my husbands side was more vocal about disapproving a bit, jsut from his dad since his dad was and he was and his sons were.. but his mom quickly defended us to my surprise saying “they know more these day about these things” So that was that!

    1. I hate that argument for circumcision! It makes no sense at all! When my brother was born in the hospital (1989), his mother vehemently said she didn’t want to circumcise, saying she didn’t want that pain for her tiny little baby. The doctor actually tried to convince by saying, “well, he caused you pain in labour, so why not give him a dose?” I mean, come on!

  6. Here’s the thing. If you as a parent are making your choices from a place of research, reason, and moral conviction, then you are not obliged to explain yourself to anyone, even your family members. It’s up to you and your partner. Repeat after me, “It’s not up for discussion.”

  7. We are the weird “crunchy” ones of our families… my side tends to be a bit more supportive for some issues and some not so much. I get that all parents think they did an amazing job… and look their kids turned out fine… but what is fine? I dont really thank that being sick all the time is fine… it is just what we have come to terms with as a society… especially cuz there is a pharma drug out there that will fix your problem everytime… no matter how many times you have to buy the same drug (over the counter or not)…
    Our child is breastfed… she is just about 18 months… most people in my family prefer to talk about how weird we are behind our back instead of asking any questions… something we’d be more than happy to share our research and experience about. Pretty much none of them know that two weeks ago i dried up after taking an antibiotic for something that went terribly wrong with my eye. (We just moved across the country… and havent had time to find a homeopathic dr. yet) … i am devastated, and my daughter still doesnt understand… she still trys to nurse to sleep.
    We have received a few comments on our choice to co-sleep… most people in our family know kids that are socially underdeveloped and of course it is all because they still sleep with their parents…. there arent any socially underdeveloped kids that sleep in their own beds in this whole entire world… i just found this out by a loving aunt. So many people keep telling us that our kid will have to surrive in this world… and eating local and organic is simply not practical… thats ok… we dont see you often enough for it to make a difference anymore.
    And my breastfed, organic eating, co-sleeping daughter is the healthieat happiest kid you have ever met… but ot cant possibly be from the breastfeeding, or organic food or the co-sleeping…. those have nothing to do with her happiness at all 😉
    We also cloth diaper… none of the grandparents or aunts and uncles will step in to help us… but her cousins, with their disposable diapers they have no problem changing… We even bought the easy as pie… looks like a disposable… two snaps to put the liner in kind… and yes there are organic cloth diapers… with our no petroleum bum cream…
    We are lucky, the majority of our family and friends umderstand if they liked to buy her cloths as presents they do have to be organic material with natural dyes… the ones who dont understand this … well she has never worn those clothes… we do accept hand-me-downs… all the research i have done tells me because those clothes have probably been washed a million times… all the horrible residues havebeen

    1. Washed out… ok enough ranting… we dont have much support… so reading that others are going through similar experiences does help me feel like we belong.

  8. I have gotten a lot of criticism for a lot of my choices from both my Mom and my MIL. They criticized HOW I breastfed (yes how- they both told me that feeding on one side per feeding was wrong, I was like really? How does that matter so much to you that you have to argue about it??), me not circumcising my son, the way I feed my kids (because apparently by having them eat healthy most of the time I’m ruining their childhood… oy), the way I birthed my kids (birth center/midwife births with the last two, although that was one thing my MIL did not weigh in on… perhaps for once in her life she knew that would be overstepping), me holding my kids while they sleep, me NOT rocking them to sleep (I do eventually like my kids to fall asleep on their own- I never ever do cry it out, but getting them to sleep without much fuss hasn’t been much of an issue so far, knock on wood!), me bedsharing and cosleeping for parts of their infancies… I could go on. But the important thing to remember is that none of what they think matters. Like at all. Its nice to have them involved and informed, and it sucks that certain things I just don’t tell them now that I know how they react to things (like I would never ever tell them now that we’re selective/delayed vaxing our third, and that we waived all of my second’s Kinder boosters). But me and my husband are the parents. We do not make choices to make our parents or anyone else happy. We make what we think are the best choices for our children and for our families. It helps to remember that. And yeah, forums like this and reading the comments of others in the same boat really helps.

  9. I had my children in the early 80’s & 90 when being your child’s friend was popular… My mother’s advice was the best advice I got. She told me when I brought my baby home I should put him in the crib after his last feeding of the night while he was awake so he could learn to sleep on his own, in his own bed.
    My relationship with my husband had to come first and you can’t be intimate with each other if you have a child between you.
    I didn’t nurse my firs 2 but iI did my 3rd and it was the best choice I ever made! There was a closeness like I never felt before. Now that they are grown I have a special relationship with each of them. My 3rd was born in 1990 and I nursed him when ever he needed, home, mall, restaurants and it was never an issue for me. I think the issue now is that young mothers are posting pictures on the Internet. I am thankful that my time with son will never be shown to him by his peers because as a young mother I foolishly posted pictures of our private moments to the Internet. I worry about the babies coming up, once you post a picture it’s forever. I’m all for nursing, I think it’s beautiful and natural. Remember when you post a picture it is forever and you are taking the chance that your child’s peersl will find those pictures and re-post for all their friends to see.
    Remember your husband comes first. When you put your baby to bed make sure they have they’re own room. You can’t have intimacy with a baby between you….
    Experience from a mother of a 32, 29 & 23 year old…. For what it’s worth

  10. Overall I feel blessed that my family is pretty supportive. My older sister kind of paved the way into a more natural approach to parenting, mostly after suffering with auto immune issues herself and trying to create a healthier environment for her children. I learned a lot from her and I thank her. Between us we’ve had 3 hospital births (all bad) 4 birthing center births (better) and 1 home birth (ideal, that was my last baby). My dad was only nervous about the home birth, but still was supportive. Our parents support Bfeeding (my mother nursed me until I was 2 in the 70’s), even until 2 or 3 yrs old. They don’t question cosleeping , which is good cause I would seriously have panic attacks if my babies were left in a dark room all alone all night. And believe me, with having 5 kids in 10 yrs, my husband is not lacking any attention :) My son and 2 nephews are uncircumsized, which they think might embariss them but leave it alone most of the time. Even my sisters gluten/dairy/egg free diet was recently adopted by our dad, who has seen much improved health from it. The only topic that my sister and I are not supported on are vaccines. She has never vaxed hers and I stopped after my oldest was diagnosed with a tree not allergy at 3 yrs old . My parents say we are selfish and irresponsible, but cannot comment on how healthy our kids are? I think it is because our baby brother (now 21 yrs old) is on the spectrum with asbergers. My mom just expects us to do the same vax schedule because that is what she did for us (even tho she doesn’t want to see it is 20 times worse now) and “we are fine “, not wanting to connect all of the auto immune issues that my siblings have. I assume that she feels that if we choose to parent a different way, that means her way was wrong. Not that she was wrong, she just didn’t know better…

  11. I chose midwives along with a completely natural (drug free) labor and delivery. Breast milk only along with co-sleeping. My son’s father & I even agreed no immunizations either. For the most part I’ve been supported by friends family as well as strangers.
    I do get questioned or advised about the immunizations and raising my son vegan.
    People are going to be people. Their questions concerns and comments don’t bother or affect my choices and personal beliefs. My son is extremely healthy. I always get asked how is he so big and fat if you’re a vegan? He’s getting just what he needs the way God and nature intended.
    To each their own. You’ve gotta do what’s best for your family (hopefully it’s the healthy way)

  12. Maybe I was radical before my first child was born but certainly the experience I had in my pregnancy and her birth reinforced my own different, “radical” stance. I let my mother and convention talk me out of a midwife attended home birth in 1978. Instead I was agreeable, reasonable and went with on OB and a planned hospital birth. I got an induced birth attached to a fetal monitor and was miserable. I finally agreed to “a shot” since my contractions were so continuous that I was not dilating. With my hands strapped down on a flat, brightly lit delivery room my daughter was born and whisked away from me. I was taken bloody, alone, strapped to an IV to my room to rest while my baby was taken to the nursery. Certainly not the natural, intimate, bonding and meaningful experience I had planned. Once I finally got someone to answer my calls in the morning I was taken to the nursery to nurse and see my daughter. I then made the trip down the hall answering my own mothering call to rock and nurse her every 2-3 hours in spite of the hospitals wish they I adhere to their schedule. My listening to others, rather than myself was over. Each step along the way in my parenting from infancy to

  13. Each step along the way in my parenting from infancy to adolescence has challenged me to listen more, to question and to act in accordance with my values, my own wisdom and seek guidance from sources I trust. Each time I have allowed others opinions to override my intuition I have learned to regret it. Being a mother, a “radical” one is a larger expression of ourselves as women who choose not to conform. In this case motivated by our love for our children. Perhaps for many it is the first time to stop the endless negating of self that women are so bound by.

  14. I chose to go with a midwife and a doula at around 16wks after being treated like a number at a Gynae. I told him I wanted a completely natural birth to which he replied ‘we will have to see but I think we can do that’ I could see it was not an honest reply at all. My midwife and doula were amazing and incredibly supportive even whe I smsed at ridiculous hours! My hubby was totally supportive and so was my mom…I actually want to get a traditional ‘mom’ tattoo after my experience and how supportive my mom has been. My aunt is a nurse a bit old school and she was pretty supportive too although she did raise an eyebrow when it came to not vaccinating. My mom did too but she told me that it was my child and my decision. My dad and father inlaw were kinda indifferent, my brother was a bit anti I think, but he doesn’t believe in homeopathy and things. He thinks it’s mumbo jumbo. The most resistance came from mom in law – especially on vaccinations, she wanted to ask her friends opinions and talk to everyone around her about it. She was quite angry about it. Most of my friends were quite supportive but told me that I was crazy to have natural birth with no drugs. I had a long long challenging labour (14hrs 12,5 active) but I would do it all the same way again if I had another child. I was even approached by a group of people to do a talk on natural pregnancy and childbirth, because it is so uncommon these days for woman to give birth naturally. It was the most empowering experience of my life.

  15. I too had an unsupportive mother. She felt everything I did was to show her how bad a mother she was (do you think there was just a little insecurity there?) She was at the hospital waiting for hours when my sister had her first child; took her 2 days to come to my house to see my firstborn. I think she thought it would be a bloody mess. Anyways, had my two sons at home with a midwife, breastfed until 2.5 and 2 years, co-slept, carried ’em in a sling, never vaccinated, and homeschooled. On the homeschooling thing she eventually came around when one of her “Christian” radio personalities finally came around and admitted it was a good thing. Boy was I relieved . I have two wonderful sons all grown up now and one just finished his degree and opening his own business. The other has given me a wonderful granddaughter and another on the way. I never thought I would marry or have children–wanted to live in the mountains and be a hermit, maybe run a general store. Wouldn’t trade my husband and kids for nothin’. Love ’em. I call problems with family be it marriage or extended family going through Egypt . Going through Egypt is hard, but it makes you stronger.

  16. I live in a small Midwestern town where things are very conservative. I never knew anyone growing up who nursed their babies, and I didn’t know homebirth was even a thing til I was an adult. I finally got the chance to be a mom when I as 40- and knew I’d be an automatic c-section at hospital. I was lucky enough to find traditional midwives to help me with homebirth- and a wonderful lady let use use her home as it’s in the state where the midwives were legal AND near hospitals just in case of emergency (we live in a state where homebirth is not legal and an hour’s drive from hospital). My family was oddly silent on that matter- not freaking out but also not wanting to hear about the thing I was very excited about. I gave my mom a copy of Ina May’s guide to Childbirth to read, hoping to spark conversation,but I don’t know if she even opened it. My inlaws were concerned due to it being my first baby at my age but OK with home birth in general as my man’s older kids and his brother’s were born at home, but again, oddly silent and never asking me how things were going. I’ve gotten more grief over my not circumcising and not vaccinating him (though we remain somewhat open-minded on possible vacc’s in the future) from my sister (who has no children) and people I work with (talked about behind my back- not to me!) The attachment parenting thing is an issue for my wider family who think I’m “spoiling” him- as did the neighbors who would always have to comment as I walked by with him in a wrap. One of the things that annoyed me most was how I had this AMAZING experience of giving birth in a quiet home surrounded by peaceful, supportive people (after 9 months of preparation and study and with ultra-qualified midwives attending) and NO ONE wanted to hear about it! No one EVER asked me what it was like or wanted to hear my story, even though they talk endlessly about epidurals, c-sections, etc. with women who had hospital births. The ultimate kicker- a co-worker of mine’s wife ended up giving birth in their truck on the way to the hospital- after the hospital had sent her home earlier because her labor “wasn’t far enough along” even though they knew it was her 3rd birth and they were an hour’s drive away- and her labor kicked up so rapidly at home that they later had to rush back- leaving their 5 year old and 1 and 1/2 year old alone for the 1/2 hour it took her mom to get to their house because she knew she couldn’t wait much longer….She gives birth in the truck…going down the highway with her husband driving understandably distracted- unprepared and unsafe in every way….and people cannot get ENOUGH of that story- “Can you believe it? That’s soooo cool!!!” Co-workers ask him to tell it over again til this day!!! Ugh! So overall I’ve been a pretty lonely mama- thank goodness for and other online communities where I can touch base with like-minded people, because it’s been a freeze-out here at home! I wouldn’t do it any other way though- this is right for my family and I have a beautiful healthy, happy boy to show for it all. PS we are still co-sleeping and occasionally nursing at just over three years old, too….oh, the scandal!

  17. I wish I could edit my recent comment- I read it and fear I sound very judging of the couple who had the baby en route- I mean no disrespect to them. They are awesome parents and they did nothing wrong- just what they had to do in an emergency…I am frustrated with the situation- with the behavior of the hospital that put them in that position and I was hurt by the reactions of all the people where I work who consider what happened to them to be the coolest thing ever but feel that my carefully planned and safely executed home birth was tatamount to child endangerment.

    1. That’s so awesome! I’m so glad you got to have a peaceful, home birth experience, despite state laws (that makes me so angry, but that’s another topic). I grew up in a community where it was normal for babies to nurse until they were anywhere from 2-8 (my brother stopped nursing on his 8th birthday), co-slept sometimes until age 12-13 (again, two of my brothers are in that mix), and plenty of women had home births, midwives, doula’s, or used a birth centre (me and my siblings: 3 hospital OB births, 1 hospital midwife, 1 birth centre midwife, 1 home birth with a midwife, and one home birth with a doula – the midwife didn’t get there on time, it was so fast!), etc. But when people aren’t at all familiar with that kind of thing, they can just shut down. They have no idea what to say. There’s a lot of fear around truly traditional birth/parenting practices in this country, because people don’t have any first hand exposure to it. It’s like the measles: people who had the measles know it’s no worse than the flu or the chicken pox, but because it’s no longer a common, childhood disease, people are freaking out like it’s malaria or something. I have so much respect for you doing what you do, especially coming from your background, and while you may not realise it, I’ll bet you’re starting a new wave of thinking in your town. It takes guts to be a pioneer, but we need people like you, because not everybody has the courage to go against the grain.

  18. Thanks for posting this, it’s really interesting to me! I’m 34 weeks pregnant & I live in the UK. Typically, here in the UK Midwives are the first port of call for delivering babies, OB doctors are only called in for special circumstances or the odd check throughout pregnancy – otherwise you just see your Midwife and your general physician.

    I am not so lucky as I am a high risk pregnancy due to a heart defect so my choices have been automatically limited, however I am lucky to be at a wonderful hospital with doctors who are doing their best to work with me to find the right balance between the heavily monitored clinical birth and the natural birth I would have chosen if I had been able to. It has been interesting, my mum has supported any decision I have made (the largest decision being whether to simply opt for a planned c-section or aim for vaginal delivery) knowing that like you, I am the biggest research nut known to man. I knew I wanted a vaginal delivery, even if I HAD to be induced, HAD to have an epidural, and was thrilled to be supported by my cardiac specialist. But I know that my OH would much rather I had a scheduled c-section, to him it seems somehow safer, despite the acknowledgement that my specialist advises against a c-section because it can cause MORE stress than a vaginal delivery. My mother in law feels much the same way, though neither of them would ever outwardly say it now, and both support me I know they wish I was doing it slightly differently.

    Oddly, at a time when I thought I would feel very vulnerable I feel incredibly powerful. I don’t feel any fear in making my decisions or of what others might think, I thought I might feel bullied. Either way… I guess I’ll be back to let you know how it goes!

  19. This was so encouraging to read, thank you. It is at times unbelievable to me how incredibly unsupportive and skeptical the people closest to me have been regarding my choice to attempt a completely natural birth, to breastfeed, use cloth diapers and make my baby’s food, etc. Why is it so difficult to understand that my choices are not unconventional, they are tried and true, and in fact centuries old! I am not in any way trying to implement some brand new, radical approach to child birth or parenting so why is there so much criticism, why do I have to explain that going back to the basics is not crazy? Its so frustrating but reading this article, learning that I am not the only one dealing with opposition made me feel a lot better. Thanks again..

  20. I had the same problem with my family. My mother called me a bad mother on Christmas Eve. I had left the house with my sister and came back an hour later to find out my mother had forced my daughter to take a nap. My dad said she fell asleep after 45 minutes of crying. My family doesn’t live close so we haven’t been back to visit at Christmas. They didn’t like that I nursed my daughter until she was two and then occasionally until she was 5. They even didn’t like that I put my child on her back to sleep. How crazy is that?

  21. I fortunately had an extremely encouraging family front, including my parents and my hubby. I chose to have a natural home birth with midwives. Things did not go that way, but what was amazing was the support I received from my midwives, encouraging me to go through with the birth naturally (even though I was in the hospital) and the support and love that I had from my husband and my mother. I did get to have my natural birth, and it still turned out perfectly, despite the change of plans:)

  22. It was as if she pulled my brain out and wrote down everything I’ve been feeling for the last four years. These feelings are also compounded by the fact that I’m African American. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “But Black people do/don’t ______”, and not just from family members. Just because it’s different, doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Every parent has the right to choose what they believe is best for their family. Thank you so much for writing this.

  23. Just because you have no milk does not mean you have to stop nursing your child. I also wonder what makes you think you have dried up? It is in the realm of possibility that you have but there are women who adopt babies that have never been pregnant that can develop a milk supply with nursing and pumping etc. Maybe the meds have just drastically reduced your supply.
    i see by the date of your post t that almost a month has gone by and so you have already decided to continue or to stop, but please know that breastfeeding is about a bond and relationship not just about giving and receiving milk.
    hoping that your eye has fully recovered….
    mom to 5 wonderful kids ages 6 through 18

  24. My mother is a nurse and she didn’t nurse us. She let us cry it out and so I know that she probably thinks it’s crazy that we co- sleep (sort of by accident, but safely). She was very supportive of my decision to breastfeed although I can see that she is just the littlest but uncomfortable when we nurse in public (covered). On the other hand, she loves that I make the baby homemade food now that she is beyond 6 months (we still nurse of course and nurse to nap and nurse at night). She is a wonderful cook and she has ways kept a garden. My delivery was traumatic. Though I was prepared by taking meditation classes and studying/carefully planning a natural hospital labor, the baby did not descend after fully dilating and two hours of pushing. I became ill and we ended up in the operating room and she in the NICU. I am so happy that c-sections were invented because I might have died in a different time and day. I think it’s important to remain flexible with all of your decisions (keeping your child and other children, your spouse and yourself in mind only) and if you seek approval from your parents or family (which I admittedly do), keep some things to yourself but connect with them on the things you do think will appeal to them. Or find a fact or a way to connect to something about them or the pleasant memories of your time as their children (if you have them). I do have to say that I’m surprised there are anti-vacc comments here. I thought surely there had been enough solid debunking out there to change minds on that topic.

  25. I’m not a mother (well, godmother, but never been through the whole birth/full-time parenting process), so I have so much respect for all of you parents out there. I was raised by an extremely traditional mother, in the sense that we nursed well into babyhood (I was 5 when I stopped – I remember it), co-slept as much as we desired, were carried in the sling/backpack as long as we needed it (I was carried, again well into babyhood), fed a vegan diet, I witnessed two of my brothers being born at home, were homeschooled Waldorf style (although there were many other influences to our education), weren’t vaccinated, etc, etc. Just about everything that’s ever been mentioned on this site I experienced growing up. Yes, my grandparents were skeptical (and extremely judgmental), but seeing us grow up and flourish, they’re glad my mother made the parenting decisions she did. Now, with that background, I was very judgmental of any parents who decided not to breastfeed till age least age 2, didn’t birth at home or at a birth centre, had C-sections, weren’t stay-at-home parents, let their children cry to sleep, didn’t use a sling, ever gave their children formula or non-organic animal products or white grains or sweets, vaccinated, put their children in school, etc, etc.

    I’ve been a nanny for three years, officially, but have been taking care of children practically my whole life (it happens with 5 younger siblings!). But to be officially employed into a home to look after someone else’s child has been a particularly eye opening and heart changing experience for me. When you’re paid to be a third parent, you grow attachments – not only to your charges, but to the parents themselves. And you begin to realise that it’s just as bad to judge a parent who let’s her child cry for their own well being, as it is to judge a parent for co-sleeping. You begin to see that a mother who works all day has just as strong a bond to her child, as the mother who is with her children 24/7. You realise that it’s never one-size-fits-all parenting; that there’s a balance, and that most parents are honestly doing their best for their children.

    But when reading childcare literature – sleep books, for instance – there tends to be a judgmental tone to them. You’re a horrible parent if you let your child cry, but you’re a horrible parent if you don’t sleep train. You’re a horrible parent if you don’t breastfeed exclusively, but you’re equally bad if your child isn’t gaining weight while breastfeeding. So, for the past year, it has been my project to write a childcare book (specifically targeting nannies and parents with nannies) that brings together all of these different parenting approaches, in a way that doesn’t make the reader feel judged. I really believe that, with or without children, we need to leave the unsolicited advice at the door, and instead give respect, compassion, and support to parents. The journey of parenthood is far from easy, but society doesn’t make it any easier by judging parents at every turn.

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