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Are you raising your family the way you want?

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
How close is your parenting and family life to your ideals?

Is it going the way you want, doing all the things that are important to you?

Or is there a big gap between you wanting healthy-eating, outside-play-oriented, little-or-no-screen-time, unvaccinated etc. kids and actually having Nickelodean- and cereal-addicted, vaccinated-to-the-hilt-under-pressure children?

If there is a gap, big or small - why?
post #2 of 31
My gap is pretty small....

All the things that are important are done because there is no alternative that I am willing to do... (breastfeeding, co-sleeping, babywearing, not vaxing, Unconditional parenting, NVC, unschooling etc...)

I don't limit screen time but I didn't want the kids to channel surf mindlessly and be bombarded by commercials so we got rid of cable.

We eat mostly healthy but we also eat the non-healthy stuff once in while because I think that learning about moderation is important... We don't do artificial colours/flavours etc because of allergies, but I provide the kids with other treats or we make own versions (Marshmallows, cookies etc..)

The only thing that is far from our ideal is our living arrangement. We would like to be more off the grid, more in nature and have a bigger space than just a small back yard...
post #3 of 31
Originally Posted by laohaire View Post
How close is your parenting and family life to your ideals?

Is it going the way you want, doing all the things that are important to you?

Or is there a big gap between you wanting healthy-eating, outside-play-oriented, little-or-no-screen-time, unvaccinated etc. kids and actually having Nickelodean- and cereal-addicted, vaccinated-to-the-hilt-under-pressure children?

If there is a gap, big or small - why?
Well we've got a gap, for sure, fairly good sized, but it could be worse (and was back in the day, except I didn't have quite the ideals I have today). And it's for many many reasons. The older kids (all my stepkids) are vaccinated, DD has only had a few thus far, and will only have a select few. But the screen time, out-door play, cereal, Nickolodean and such. Oy, when I first became the stepparent, I didn't consider as many of these things. When I met the mister, I stepped into a life with alot of these bad habits. DH and I have been learning as we go. While we've come a loooong way from eating every meal in front of the tv (a habit that was part of DH's life), we're sure not in a "hour of screen time a day" mode. I don't know if we ever will be, honestly. The big kids are so used to TV and games and whatnot. It's the norm for their mom's house, and it is a big draw at the babysitter's house as well. DH is hooked on sugar fixes and can't conceptualize a life without cereal, therefore it's the same with the kids. But I do believe we're making verrrry slow progress on that front.

The gaps also exist due to time problems. Both DH and I work, so we've got limited time with the kids, limited time to prepare food, just limited time. So we do the best we can. I find that the times when I try to hold myself to my strictest ideals are the times it overwhelms me and then we swing really far to the wrong end.

I'm trying to be at peace with being so far from our ideals by reminding myself we're a work in progress. That's far better than my mentally listing everything we're deficient on and then freaking that we have to fix it right. now. Because man, I do that to myself alot. But that's changing too!

I'd love to watch a good movie only on Saturday and that be the extent of our TV watching, but that's far from happening. DH swears he needs TV to relax from the day, so usually we watch Star Trek or Frasier episodes. I start to get upset about this, but then remind myself that not too many years ago we literally had the TV on constantly. Babysteps. Baby steps.
post #4 of 31
I feel very lucky in that (thusfar!!) the gap is very very small. My ideals of little to no TV, kids who eat everything, home cooked family meals of whole foods eaten together at the table, confident yet polite kids, and great sleepers are actually happening. I also feel closer to my husband than ever before, which was a fear that I had in having kids, and closely spaced kids at that. NOW, they are only almost 3 and almost 2, so there is plenty of time for lots to go awry, though I fervently hope that it does not I give my kids all the credit, they have simply been very easy thusfar. I like being a mom even more than I had hoped/planned.

As to Vax or CIO or BF or the like, we chose and researched our path before our kids were born, and have stuck to it without difficulty. We do what jived for us based on the research available to us and with what our hearts told us, making "sticking to it" natural, not difficult.
post #5 of 31
I think my core ideal is to raise a happy, educated, healthy little guy and enjoy my life doing it. In that I think we are generally succeeding.

The devil's in the details, though. I don't look at it as success/fail, more general direction so:

- infanthood: We met and passed all our breastfeeding goals for sure and handed diapering and vax the way we had decided was right for us. We never realized not circumcising was a big deal because here in Ontario, they don't do it at the hospital by default. We had a co-sleeper and I thought that we would move from that to a crib in our room but we ended up co-sleeping more than I thought and it worked for us, but only after my son was over a year (I had fears).

- model and give respect, but remain the adults:
I think we mostly make the mark here; however we are helped a lot by my son's inbred temperment and personality which is generally jolly and helpful.

- give opportunities for success
We expect that our son will participate in the maintenance of our home and be able to handle social situations at an age-appropriate level, which I personally believe is part of natural parenting - for the child to join the tribe's work, so to speak

- media: we're mixed
I've read a lot of the stuff on TV and I am wary of it as a default activity, but my husband and I both enjoy movies and some shows quite a bit. I also freely admit that some days we are all tired out in our BRAINS by 5:00 pm and a half hour of entertainment goes a long way.

Our family compromise has been that we don't get any broadcast TV but we have invested in a DVD library of shows we consider okay, beginning with the odd Signing Time episode when my son was about 15 months and now we have some movies, like Pixar's Cars, and the Popular Mechanics for Kids set, and Earth, and even some TV ones. Through a series of Fateful Events he also was introduced to the Star Wars Clone Wars animated series and it's violent! And my son loves it and we've had so much opportunity to talk about good and evil...and it got him into reading fairy tales. So, ehn.

The last year or so I have also been letting my son pick some at the library each week, along with the books we take out, and we've been treated to some pretty jarring kids' shows (Wonderpets come to mind) but I feel like we gain more from the conversation/choice than we lose from the 45 minutes.

We also allow some Internet/iTouch games on holidays.

I do feel like we've not met some ideal in this area, but I think I'm comfortable with where we've landed most of the time, and when I'm not, then I try to adjust at that point.

- physical activity
As a two-parent WOH family I feel like this is where we least meet our ideals. My son fortunately gets soccer, martial arts, outdoor playtime, and yoga at his daycare/Montessori, and he takes swim lessons, but we really only seem to get it together to go for a walk or do a sports thing together about 2-3 times a month. (We do play in our yard a bit beyond that.) So this is where I think we really need to get on top of it more, for everyone's health. I most regret about working that we really haven't had the TIME to walk to and from daycare as that would be a great way to work it in.

- food
We have sadly achieved our child's introduction to the idea that "at some places meals come with toys!" But joining a CSA (veggie in the summer/fall; meat/eggs/root veggie right now) has imposed a locavore base for our meal planning and I've put a lot of time into developing menus that work against our schedules so that most nights we're eating homemade food/leftovers.

I don't aim for a complete elimination of "unhealthy food" but more that it is the odd spice in our diet and not a staple. So... we do have one box of Kraft Dinner in the cupboard that gets eaten occasionally and replaced, and I'm not overly fussy about sweets and treats occasionally crossing the threshhold - I honestly think the odd packet of gummies is one of the great joys of childhood. And yes, artichokes are too.
post #6 of 31
It depends on the day. There are many things that *I* want, and how *I* would ideally like things to go...but...my kids needed different things occasionally so I haven't gotten to do everything I wanted exactly how I wanted to do them.
post #7 of 31
Originally Posted by laohaire View Post
How close is your parenting and family life to your ideals?

Is it going the way you want, doing all the things that are important to you?

Or is there a big gap between you wanting healthy-eating, outside-play-oriented, little-or-no-screen-time, unvaccinated etc. kids and actually having Nickelodean- and cereal-addicted, vaccinated-to-the-hilt-under-pressure children?

If there is a gap, big or small - why?

I want to be more organized, and have more of a routine to our day. I want to take the kids out of the house more often. I want to find my way to living more cooperatively and respectfully with them. I want us to eat all organic and more whole foods. I want us to have a house with a backyard for the kids.

We'll get there.
post #8 of 31
The gap looks pretty big on some days! More like a chasm. But I'll start with all the things I did succeed in living up to my ideals...

Breastfed till 2 1/2. No vaxes. No antibiotics (we've been blessed that they've never been truly necessary). Co slept...still do some nights! Babywearing. All that good stuff for the baby years, basically.

But then she became a toddler! She eats plenty of crap, unfortunately. I try not to be toooo hard on myself though, because it is a family problem and it's one that I've always struggled with. I couldn't just expect that aspect to be easy once I had a kid and even less time on my hands. We also watch a lot of tv. Well, she mostly watched Wonderpets or Signing Time DVD's, with the occasional Disney movie thrown in. I swore up and down that we would NEVER allow all the princess crap. And now we sort of encourage it because those princess items are treats that really help us with her therapy and such. And it's just so darn normal and we find ourselves being excited whenever she's interested in normal things.

I guess the thing is that we also never expected to have a special needs child. A lot of our "ideals" don't fit into the reality we live in. My ideals included a kid who could "help" mommy cook dinner, enjoy doing little art projects together, and playing catch with daddy. Our reality is nothing like that. So yeah, my kid eats junk food and watches tv and hates being read to...but we're doing the best we can. I don't know if things would be really different if she was different, but I'm sure not going to dwell on it! And we'll see what we do with kiddo number two, who knows what kind of ideals we'll get rid of then!
post #9 of 31
We have a gap definitely. On food, we go back and forth between being more where I want to be and being restaurant/convenience addicts. That's probably the issue I worry about the most.

Because my mental health took a downturn after DS was born and then a huge dive after DD was born, we haven't been as TV-free as I'd like. Guilt. Guilt. Guilt.

Two big things for us are fostering independence through problem-solving and encouraging creativity. In those areas, I think we've mostly succeeded. I'd say we're 90% of where I'd like to be. Most of the gap again comes from me not being in the best health for the past 3 years.
post #10 of 31
It's mostly the way I want it to be. The only difference would be in myself, I wish I was more patient, more fun, more energetic. But other than that, I am happy with the way things are going, and it's almost exactly the way I envisioned it.
post #11 of 31
Originally Posted by mommy2abigail View Post
The only difference would be in myself, I wish I was more patient, more fun, more energetic.

The biggest thing I wish I could change is ME, but it would mean more change than I can manage in a lifetime. That said, we DO have a big gap, family-wise, and part of it is compromise with DH, living where we have to live, and just not being able to do everything at once.
post #12 of 31
It ebbs and flows.

The biggest challenge to doing things the way we wanted is that our kids ended up spaced very closely together (two at 11 months apart so far instead of four kids with a three year spacing). This means my patience gets spread a lot more thinly some days, which means I am less "ideal" in terms of my discipline. My biggest disappointments and regrets in myself as a mother have all been around times when I've lost my temper with my kids...or some days, my general tone when talking to the kids.

I'm working on it.

In terms of the other stuff, most of it just seems less important to me now. We cloth diapered as we planned, though it was more on-and-off than we planned due to a big cross country move and other factors. We didn't get to breastfeed our kids so far as they came to us through foster care, but it was a matter of the law and we bottle-nursed (intentional nursing approach to bottlefeeding) instead and I didn't really regret not being able to breastfeed the way I anticipated (being a big lactivist). dd didn't end up liking the sling or being close to us physically for a long time because of her early life traumas. Eventually we did some therapy together, and now she is such a sweet, affectionate little one that even though she still isn't a very snuggly one, I don't feel sad about it or anything.

We are tv free. I do think the kids watch too much tv (PBS kids) when we are visiting grandma and grandpa (my in-laws), but they get a lot of active playtime over there too, so I've decided to let it go and not fight that battle with MIL. At home we do some Signing Time videos, and have since the kids were much younger than I anticipated letting them watch videos. However, they learned much (MUCH!) better from the videos than from me signing with them, it has really helped ds tremendously with his speech delays, and they now have a TON of sign language and are able to communicate with a friend who is deaf, and we are grateful for that.

I wish dd was able to start Montessori school, but we don't have the money. My other two regrets are that (1) we eat really healthfully and all from-scratch, but far less organic than I had hoped because it just hasn't been possible financially, and (2) we do have a pretty strong religious life, but there are ways I can see that I could strengthen our religious practices at home...just haven't gotten it together enough.

I try not to worry about it all though. What matters most is a strong, loving relationship, so that is the one area I focus the most energy.
post #13 of 31
Well I've got some pretty high ideals which are pretty much out of the realms of possibility for our life right now, so there's a pretty big gap.

I've not done too badly - did my damndest to have a natural homebirth, though it didn't work out, stuck with breastfeeding through a phenomenal number of obstacles and still nursing DD now at almost 2, CDed for about half of DD's career in nappies, most of what we eat is reasonably healthy and home-cooked, DD had minimal exposure to TV in her first year and I try to practise gentle discipline. She got early vaccinations up to 4 months until I did enough research to decide to discontinue, though I really regret not having done that before. We still co-sleep. I read to DD every day and take time out to play along with her, and also do my best to include her in my household tasks. I am a SAHM and hope to be able to continue as such until DD and potential future kid are both school age.

Things I would like to improve on:
- I would LOVE to be TV free or only to watch a few select DVDs/shows but DH is a total addict. It was easier when we lived abroad because all the TV was in Czech which we didn't speak terribly well so DH wasn't tempted, but now we're back in England the TV is on pretty much the whole time he's at home. It really irks me, but he insists that he needs it to unwind. At least I've managed to convince him not to watch the news while DD's around.

-I would also love to eat better. We're not too bad, but I can't afford to buy organic, and if I want some convenience food the healthier options are also the most expensive. I'm also not the world's best/most imaginative cook so I struggle sometimes to come up with healthy, cheap and tasty meals that everyone will eat.

-We really need more exercise/outdoor time, and that's almost all my fault. I'm struggling with chronic exhaustion - partly the pregnancy and partly what I'm pretty sure is a hypothyroid problem - and I also get bitterly cold when we go out in winter, no matter how well I wrap up. We have a tiny garden but it was badly overgrown when we moved in in November and due to the weather there's not a lot I can do about it until spring comes, so I can't really let DD play out there right now.

-I'd also like to be more ecologically friendly, though we're not too bad, and I'd like to be more involved in voluntary work, though I actually tried quite hard to find an organisation to volunteer for but none of them were interested in me with DD in tow and I'm not about to pay a stranger to look after my kid to go volunteering!
post #14 of 31
Actually, yes, we are living the way we want and raising our family the way we want. I'm very happy about that!
We eat all organic meals, made from scratch. We have no TV, we watch films or play Wii a little when we want, but it's not something we need or are addicted too, we go weeks and months without too.
Our kids love to be outside.
We are very AP and other things like we want, GD, co-sleep, bf, babywear, respect them, listen too them, see them, always respond, select and delayed wax, no circ, organic clothes and toys when we can, very, very green and environmentally friendly etc.
post #15 of 31
Interesting topic. It's provided an opportunity for me to think about our parenting goals and realities, especially important with #2 on the way.

I actually found myself surprised that we really seem to be hitting a lot of our goals. DD nursed until she self-weaned at nearly 2. We cloth diaper nearly all of the time (exceptions for long trips). DD is TV-free except for things that we want to expose her to, and we didn't start that until after she turned 2 and it's only about 10-15 minutes a week (short films I've worked on, YouTube videos for things she's interested in, Peep while she gets her fingernails cut). I cook almost all of our meals from scratch and we eat partially organic. She has a fair number of toys, but not an overwhelming amount and few plastic/loud/branded items. DH can care for her just as well as I can -- and he does.

There are some things that turned out differently than I expected, but that I don't regret at all. We tried co-sleeping, but it just didn't work for anyone in our family. We let DD cry for a bit while night weaning at around 18 months, but once that was done we were all happier. We do vax, although a bit spread out (DH is in health care and gets exposed to a lot of nasty stuff).

Things that are different or I'd like to change... I'd like DD to have more time outside. I'd like to be more active in homeschooling her. I wish she ate more veggies, but -- she's a toddler. She gets fast food about once a week, and I'd like that to be nearly nothing.

Thanks for prompting me to be introspective about that!
post #16 of 31
My kids play outside, love books, love music, eat well, are empathetic, and think for themselves.

They like the Wii a bit too much, though. But mostly we're "good" here!
post #17 of 31
For the most part I think we're raising our family the way we planned, we veer off our intended path from time to time, but otherwise I think we're doing ok. I would like to have more patience, not care about what the in-laws say about me, get out a bit more... mostly the only things I'd like to change are the attitudes of me and my husband.
post #18 of 31
Well, given the realities of our situation (health problems, financial issues, DH's work schedule, our location, etc.), I think we're doing great. DD was EBF and cloth diapered. We've always been gentle. We still cosleep. We eat almost entirely organic and mostly fresh and homecooked. I sew, but not as much as I'd intended (due to grandparents sending more clothes and stuffed animals than any child could ever need ).

We could improve on getting outside more. I'd love to have a garden, but it's not possible where we are living. (We'll be moving soon, so hopefully it'll happen after that.) I'd like to do more for myself (both for myself and as an example for DD), and it's hard to find the energy with the chronic health problems I have...but I do think I can improve in that area. I certainly pictured DD having a sibling, so that's not ideal, but it's not as if we haven't tried. I'd love to get more involved in community activities, but again, that'll have to be after our move, as they don't really exist where we currently live.

All in all, I'd still say our gap is pretty small. And our plan is still evolving.
post #19 of 31
This will probably turn into one of those "who's the crunchiest" threads.

I think most people do what is important to them and let the little things slide. I know with my daughter, I don't really like plastic toys so most of her toys are wood or natural materials. But that didn't stop me from buying plastic stacking cups or a plastic alligator glockenspiel. But I don't think that was compromising my beliefs... it just wasn't that big a deal.
post #20 of 31
My gap is actually pretty big; I like to ignore that most of the time.

I'm divorced, my kids live with me and visit their father EOW - not what I ever intended. It has put a lot of stress on my seven year old dd, and that breaks my heart.

My younger dd who just turned two this month started daycare at the age of sixteen months - again, never what I intended. My older dd was cared for by my mother (who is a SAH parent herself) and I had hoped for the same for my younger dd - but my mom is burnt out with parenting and was/is unable to care for her.

I'm working as a nurse which has many benefits for our family, but there are downsides. Shiftwork is hard on the girls, especially when I work nights - my gf has to get them up and ready on her own in the morning and I know it's stressful for her and the kids.

I never 'intended' to be gay, fought against it my whole life, didn't want to go the hard way, but finally came out at age twenty-eight and while it's been freeing, it's also added stress to my life.

My kids eat a lot more crap, are exposed to more mainstream ideas and are cared for by a much bigger group of people than I ever intended. I'm not sure how to fix this, or what to start with, but it's horribly stressful. They have a mother who's distracted at best and aggravated/impatient at worst...

I'm taking it a day at a time, but this is never how I anticipated my life would turn out and it feels too fast, frantic and disorganized. I feel disconnected from my kids and my partner, barely clinging to the basic tenets of what I envisioned when I was first pg almost eight years ago...
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