Twin Lessons: Have More Kids, Pay Less Attention to Them" - Mothering Forums

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Old 04-11-2011, 06:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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http://blogs.wsj.com/ideas-market/2011/04/11/twin-lessons-have-more-kids-pay-less-attention-to-them/

 

dh sent me this article today, and I must say I'm intrigued. Maybe I just want someone to tell me to have more kids redface.gif, but I've also been feeling very burned-out and stressed about parenting lately and feeling like what I'm doing isn't working.

 

I see some problems with this particular entry (not least the comparison of Haitians to wolves: wtf?!), but I think this could be an interesting conversation. Any thoughts?


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Old 04-11-2011, 07:16 PM
 
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A professor of economics telling the rest of the parenting community that being detached from your children is the way to go and attachment parenting is a waste of time and will make no difference to the adult your child will become. It's his opinion. End of story.
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Old 04-11-2011, 07:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, I guess I'm interested to hear whether we think this approach is compatible with AP: I'm not convinced that it's not, despite the (irrelevant & distracting, IMO) celebration of CIO etc. The details here are less interesting to me than the overall issue: how to free oneself from the paralyzing (and stressful) belief that every little aspect of parenting is somehow constitutive of the adults they will grow into? I don't think this is *necessarily* opposed to AP, whatever its author may believe (and I don't think he suggests that AP is altogether a "waste of time"). Continuum Concept, for eg, seems to advocate something similar: not micromanaging one's kids, not being overly child-centered at the expense of everything else. I'm struggling with this as my kids get older--I'm a firm believer in AP during babyhood, but how does one transition to something less...I don't know...obsessive in the later years?

 

Having two kids that are so incredibly different, and have been from day 1, has made me realize how much of their personalities is hardwired, something I would never have believed before having kids. But obviously that doesn't mean just throwing up one's hands and leaving them to it... So how to balance one's own emotional health with the needs, as they manifest themselves, of one's children?


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Old 04-11-2011, 07:52 PM
 
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Oh look. another person who equates letting babies scream as "easy parenting". No, wait, let me be more precise, a person with kids who wind down when they cry instead of getting more and more desperate promoting screaming babies as "easy".

 

But passing over that, I wonder what Mr. Caplan would have to say about:

http://articles.latimes.com/2010/may/13/science/la-sci-kids-daycare-20100514
 

Pretty major nurture difference with a measurable outcome difference.

 

ETA: NOT, just to be clear, a difference that should in any way affect a family's decision to use or not use daycare. The differences were minor, I'm just commenting on the fact that they exist at all.

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Old 04-11-2011, 09:52 PM
 
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Originally Posted by XanaduMama View Post

Well, I guess I'm interested to hear whether we think this approach is compatible with AP: I'm not convinced that it's not, despite the (irrelevant & distracting, IMO) celebration of CIO etc. The details here are less interesting to me than the overall issue: how to free oneself from the paralyzing (and stressful) belief that every little aspect of parenting is somehow constitutive of the adults they will grow into? I don't think this is *necessarily* opposed to AP, whatever its author may believe (and I don't think he suggests that AP is altogether a "waste of time"). Continuum Concept, for eg, seems to advocate something similar: not micromanaging one's kids, not being overly child-centered at the expense of everything else. I'm struggling with this as my kids get older--I'm a firm believer in AP during babyhood, but how does one transition to something less...I don't know...obsessive in the later years?

 

Having two kids that are so incredibly different, and have been from day 1, has made me realize how much of their personalities is hardwired, something I would never have believed before having kids. But obviously that doesn't mean just throwing up one's hands and leaving them to it... So how to balance one's own emotional health with the needs, as they manifest themselves, of one's children?

I read into it something like this:  you can prune and fertilize, but in the end, you cannot turn a daisy into a rose.  Both are lovely, but they are not the same.

 

I've realized that there is only so much you can do raising children.  Give them the tools they need to be the best daisy or rose they can be...and maybe your child is a tulip.  Case in point:  my kids have no interest or aptitude in sports.  DH grew up in a very sports-oriented family.  DD1 is more artistic.  We have laid off sports (at least competitive--she should still keep active just because its good for her), and encourage her artistic endeavors. 

 

We are trying to do better about giving the kids fewer toys, especially ones that do the thinking and creativity for them, and more materials with which they can decide what they are and how to play with them.  I'm not above telling any of my kids to get out of my face for a bit...they aren't any less loved because I don't dance attendance upon them 24/7. I am extremely introverted and after dealing at work with people all day, I need some time to decompress and i can only take so much.  I also don't "set up" activities (as well as the fact I can set something up, and they get other ideas--DD might glue the sticks and beads and puffs into a picture, DS might decide they are friends and carry them about, doing who knows what--stimming on them,  and baby might decide they make a nice snack for the dog.  and they end up spread all over the house.  Or the set-up activity is completely ignored.).
 

 

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Old 04-12-2011, 06:49 AM
 
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I found both articles interesting-- a huge difference being that the article in the OP was written by a father justifying his own parenting choices, while the latter was written objectively by a scientist without the personal agenda.  I'll freely admit that I'm one of the obsessive parents who the first author would say is wasting time and energy on my child-- and I honestly have often thought that I wished I could feel good about "convenience parenting" so that I might feel like I could handle another child.  As it is though, I'm committed to treating my dd like a human being, not like an accessory (I am reminded of Paris Hilton carrying that dog around in a purse).  That's not to say that I feel obligated to entertain her every minute of the day, but unlike the children of the first author, she was not fed out of plastic bottles or left to cry alone in the dark.  Though some of our choices have required more effort, I do believe that the extra connection and depth of relationship and respect that exists in my family is a good thing for all of us. (And I don't necessarily think that everyone having more kids is the best idea either-- but I won't get into that can of worms)

 

ETA:  After re-reading my post, it's pretty obvious that the first article pushed some of my buttons.  I think that's kind of parallel to my main problem with it-- not (only) whether one agrees or disagrees with the content of the article, but just that it's so subjective.  I can find it mildly entertaining and thought-provoking as an opinion piece, but it doesn't hold any scientific weight in my mind because of the author's personal involvement.  (just like, even though I am a scientist myself, I am drawn to articles extoling the virtues of only children because that's where my emotional capital lies--- people can selectively choose scientific studies that seem to uphold all number of things- especially when you're looking at a subject with as many variables as parenting)

 

and yes, OP- I definitely see your point in wanting to figure out how to find balance.  I wish I had an anwer there, because it's something I have struggled with- I almost felt like I let my "self" be consumed with motherhood, and I'll be honest that that's a big part of what's holding me back from having another child.  But I don't regret the choices I made with my daughter, because I made them based on what I truly believed that she needed-- and I do think that's my job.  Sometimes I envy parents whose kids seem to need less, but I wouldn't trade my dd, or our amazing relationship, for anything. 

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Old 04-12-2011, 07:26 AM
 
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The first article reminded me how I and so many I know were much less uptight with subsequent children than we were with our first. Being a relaxed parent is easier, more fun, and... I think... better for the child(ren).

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Old 04-12-2011, 07:47 AM
 
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Well I think he lost me when he considered "leave them alone" as valid for babies. But I will say that after toddlerhood, and to a lesser extent during, leaving your kids alone is a great idea. I like the term "serenity parenting" too. Kids are who they are basically regardless of us, but I think responding to their needs as babies gives them a level of security that helps the be happier. And I think when they're older, letting them take care of many of their needs themselves and not being their entertainment helps them achieve happiness. So I guess if he'd focused on a different age group, I'd be with him. But not babies.
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Old 04-12-2011, 07:56 AM
 
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For the most part I liked the article(except for the Ferber bit). They aren't a detached family. They enjoy hanging put together.

My dh and I both had rough childhoods. He grew up in a war zone and I was neglected and abused. Our kids have had a blessed life -- extended nursing, gentle discipline, relaxed homeschooling, ect. They are freakishly like us, complete with the same quirks and anxieties. It turns out that some things that I thought were true about myself aren't just because my parents screwed up so much, but because of basic hardwiring.

I still think ap is the way to go, but not because it causes kids to turn out a different way. It just feels right in my heart.

I do think it's ok for parents to just relax and go for a swim or watch tv with their kids, and that seemed to be his main point.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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Old 04-12-2011, 09:57 AM
 
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I only read the first article. As a parent of  twins myself (plus two other young children) I can forgive the author for ten minutes of "Ferberizing." I don't think that this limited Ferberizing is likely to change the type of adults the author's twins are likely to become. shrug.gif To some extent, when you are a parent of multiples, you have to give up some AP principles, or at least compromise. The Parenting Multiples forum here is full of threads like this - how do you balance being an attached parent with being a parent of multiples, where two twinfants desperately need you at the same time? I am sure this influences the author's perspective. If you don't give a little as a parent of multiples, esp. if you have little support around you, then you could very well be headed for disaster. Having twins and nursing twins while still trying to care for 2 other small children has been the biggest challenge of my life by far.

 

The problem that I have with his article is that the author doesn't offer any scientific references for the "twin studies" he mentions. He argues that since identical twins raised in different homes show striking similarities as adults, our parenting doesn't substantially affect the adults our children become. I seriously doubt that an identical twin raised in a neglectful, abusive, and/or improverished home would become the same adult as the identical twin raised in a loving, encouraging environment filled with opportunities. I believe that some of our qualities are heritable, but some are in large part a product of our environment.

 

That said, my older two children seem pretty different but gew up in a similar environment -- the difference being that the older child got to be an only child for 3 years, while his brother will never know this experience of undivided attention. I believe we are hardwired to a certain extent.

 

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Old 04-12-2011, 10:19 AM
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post

Oh look. another person who equates letting babies scream as "easy parenting". No, wait, let me be more precise, a person with kids who wind down when they cry instead of getting more and more desperate promoting screaming babies as "easy".

 

But passing over that, I wonder what Mr. Caplan would have to say about:

http://articles.latimes.com/2010/may/13/science/la-sci-kids-daycare-20100514
 

Pretty major nurture difference with a measurable outcome difference.

 

I've read this article before. While it sounds somewhat alarming at first glance, in the end:

    "The differences between kids who logged long hours in day care and those who did not were slight. When answering questions that

     measured their impulsiveness, teens rated themselves about 16% more rash in their behavior for every additional 10 hours they spent per week in

     day care as a preschooler. In terms of risk-taking, the link to time spent in day care was more marginal: Ten more hours a week in daycare

     prompted the average teen to answer one out of 30 questions with an admission of more risky behavior." 

Also, 60% of the kids in the study were in low-moderate quality daycare. I don't begrudge the sharing of the research in the article, but I could do without the somewhat alarmist rhetoric implying that "daycare kids" are destined to have problems. There could be several other factors that could affect a child's behavior when the child has two working parents as opposed to a working parent and a stay-at-home parent -- not just daycare.



 

 

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Old 04-12-2011, 12:04 PM
 
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Quote:

From the article:

But twin research has another far more amazing lesson: With a few exceptions, the effect of parenting on adult outcomes ranges from small to zero

 

I do see his point that there's a limit of what parents can do to ensure their children's wellbeing.  There's always the nature part in the nature-vs-nurture equation, luck plays role as well.  I accept that despite all my best efforts as a parent - there's no guarantee on anything. 

 

But I don't know how much parenting/attention is enough or not.  I don't know where the tipping point is - the point where a bit more parenting is enough but a bit less is probably not enough.  Doing the most parenting I can renders this concern moot.

 


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Old 04-12-2011, 05:25 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freeman View Post

Quote:

 

I've read this article before. While it sounds somewhat alarming at first glance, in the end:

    "The differences between kids who logged long hours in day care and those who did not were slight. When answering questions that

     measured their impulsiveness, teens rated themselves about 16% more rash in their behavior for every additional 10 hours they spent per week in

     day care as a preschooler. In terms of risk-taking, the link to time spent in day care was more marginal: Ten more hours a week in daycare

     prompted the average teen to answer one out of 30 questions with an admission of more risky behavior." 

Also, 60% of the kids in the study were in low-moderate quality daycare. I don't begrudge the sharing of the research in the article, but I could do without the somewhat alarmist rhetoric implying that "daycare kids" are destined to have problems. There could be several other factors that could affect a child's behavior when the child has two working parents as opposed to a working parent and a stay-at-home parent -- not just daycare.



 

 

Oh dear, I wasn't posting that to say that anyone should make daycare decisions off of that, just pointing out that if 10 hours difference has a noticeable result in the teen years, there's probably more differences than Mr. Caplan realizes between twins raised entirely with one parenting style or another. Note also that the article mentions risky behavior but doesn't clarify if it's risky like drinking or risky like snowboarding =D.

 

Really the problem with looking at long term studies to shape parenting behavior is why should the child suffer in the moment? Whether doing CIO with an infant, or keeping a 3 year old home all day who desperately wants/needs more time with friends their age, they won't have statistically significant results over an entire population in 20 years, but for the individual kid all they know is that they are sad and there's no help.
 

 

Off the top of my head, I suspect that the twin studies never checked to see if one twin believed that hitting people smaller than you is okay if they're also your child and the other didn't. Plenty of people who seem like perfectly normal adults otherwise, of whom one could say "they turned out just fine" hold that absurd belief.

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Old 04-12-2011, 05:34 PM
 
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Off topic rambling....

OOoo, I'd also love to know if they've done a twin study with 1/2 the twins in public school, and 1/2 homeschooled. Because given the number of waking hours spent in school, that's a major component of nurturing from 5 to 17 or 22.

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Old 04-12-2011, 06:09 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post
Really the problem with looking at long term studies to shape parenting behavior is why should the child suffer in the moment? Whether doing CIO with an infant, or keeping a 3 year old home all day who desperately wants/needs more time with friends their age, they won't have statistically significant results over an entire population in 20 years, but for the individual kid all they know is that they are sad and there's no help.
 


I'm wondering if I read the same article as everyone else.  Here's is another quote from it:

 

"Focus on enjoying your journey with your child, instead of trying to control his destination. Accept that your child’s future depends mostly on him, not your sacrifices. Realize that the point of discipline is to make your kid treat the people around him decently—not to mold him into a better adult."

 

I think he's spot on. I never left my kids to cry to sleep train them, but other than that, I have a lot in common with him. He talks about relaxing with his kids, reading books together, and spending time with his wife while the kids watch cartoons. This isn't a heartless, disconnected dad. This is someone with balance.

 

He isn't talking about not parenting, he's talking about letting go of outcomes and living in the moment. It's really a very healthy way to look at things.

 


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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Old 04-12-2011, 06:24 PM
 
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I read the replies and thought the guy was going to be heartless. In actuality, I agree with very much of what he says. He sounds like a great dad. I've also read articles that expressed that research has shown what parents do or don't do really doesn't matter all that much. Of course, I don't have a link at the moment, but I find that idea very comforting -- it can be paralyzing thinking that every decision we make as parents could potentially negatively affect our children.


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Old 04-13-2011, 06:13 PM
 
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The problem with this article is that it makes this statement: "But twin research has another far more amazing lesson: With a few exceptions, the effect of parenting on adult outcomes ranges from small to zero." But this is not true.

 

Here's in an article about why it's not true, and from an author who's nice enough to cite the research, none the less!

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/beautiful-minds/200810/straight-talk-about-twin-studies-genes-and-parenting-what-makes-us-who-w

 

But the most obvious reason it's not true was admitted by the original article. He says, "The key point to keep in mind is that twin research focuses on vaguely normal families in the First World. It doesn't claim that kids would do equally well if they were raised by wolves or abandoned in Haiti. But look on the bright side: If you are a vaguely normal family in the First World, the science of nature and nurture shows that you can lighten up a lot without hurting your kids."

 

This is what science calls a "sampling bias." None of the articles I've read about twin studies have actually specified what "normal" means, except that it's not "abusive" or "raised by wolves." But what about attachment parenting? Homeschooling? Unschooling? Radical unschooling? Taking Children Seriously? Unconditional parenting? Indulgent parenting aka trustful parenting? Gentle discipline? The first page full of spanking statistics Google gave me makes it look like it's fairly abnormal to never spank your kid if you're in a country where it's legal to do so.

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Old 04-14-2011, 01:54 PM
 
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Here's what I come away with.. I assume he's a working parent? and did he say it took his 7 years to convince his wife to have another? And that having lots of kids is "easy".. well, it sounds like maybe his wife disagreed ;) And when he said he was hoping for twins for the next pregnancy, it made me wonder, does his wife hope that? she's the one who has to go through the pregnancy! I'm sure a twin pregnancy is physically difficult. No matter how laid back and relaxed a parent you are, its not going to be easy! Worth it, sure, but to imply that all we have to do is chill out a bit and parenting will be cake? Nah. Don't buy it.


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Old 04-15-2011, 08:04 AM
 
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Personally, I rather enjoyed the article... well, except for CIO, which just makes me absolutely sick to my stomach.  redface.gif
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

For the most part I liked the article(except for the Ferber bit). They aren't a detached family. They enjoy hanging put together.

My dh and I both had rough childhoods. He grew up in a war zone and I was neglected and abused. Our kids have had a blessed life -- extended nursing, gentle discipline, relaxed homeschooling, ect. They are freakishly like us, complete with the same quirks and anxieties. It turns out that some things that I thought were true about myself aren't just because my parents screwed up so much, but because of basic hardwiring.

I still think ap is the way to go, but not because it causes kids to turn out a different way. It just feels right in my heart.

I do think it's ok for parents to just relax and go for a swim or watch tv with their kids, and that seemed to be his main point.


Linda what you wrote really struck a chord with me.  DH and I have both had some seriously traumatizing experiences in our childhoods (although we did also have loving parents at the same time so it's a strange dynamic).  For much of my life I explained away my nightmares, my fears, my anxiety because of these events that happened in my childhood.  However, as DD gets older I've founded that she exhibits much of my same behaviors and her childhood has been significantly LESS stressful.  Yes, she has gone through some changes that other kids her age have not (move, giving up a beloved pet, different language) but her anxiety seems to be almost on par to what I dealt with.  It's really made me rethink a lot of the nature vs. nuture in our children. 

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by Freeman View Post

I only read the first article. As a parent of  twins myself (plus two other young children) I can forgive the author for ten minutes of "Ferberizing." I don't think that this limited Ferberizing is likely to change the type of adults the author's twins are likely to become. shrug.gif

 


FWIW, I don't believe CIO is going to damage a child into adulthood. That's never been why I'm so against it.  I simply believe it makes a parents connection to the child in the moment worst, which makes parenting more difficult in the immediate future (also I wonder if it might delay speech slightly due to a child's primary form of communication being ignored?).  It's also something that I believe goes against our natural evolution/God-given instincts, so why would we ignore our instincts (basically, a similar thought I have to breastfeeding)? My best friend did CIO with her kids.  It makes me cringe and it's a topic we've just agreed NOT to discuss.  I still think she's a wonderful, loving mother and we're strongly considering having her and her husband be my child's godparents (but that's now, AFTER the baby stage is over! lol.gif).

 

I definitely have NO experience with multiples and I think everyone can understand that you can't necessarily parent the same way.  I was in AWE of a friend of mine who was nursing TRIPLETS!  I seriously don't know how she did that and I definitely can't say I would be able to pull off the same in her position.  I never had supply issues but I found nursing to be extremely demanding emotionally for me with 1 so with 3, wow, I just can't imagine. 

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by Freeman View Post

Quote:

 

I've read this article before. While it sounds somewhat alarming at first glance, in the end:

    "The differences between kids who logged long hours in day care and those who did not were slight. When answering questions that

     measured their impulsiveness, teens rated themselves about 16% more rash in their behavior for every additional 10 hours they spent per week in

     day care as a preschooler. In terms of risk-taking, the link to time spent in day care was more marginal: Ten more hours a week in daycare

     prompted the average teen to answer one out of 30 questions with an admission of more risky behavior." 

Also, 60% of the kids in the study were in low-moderate quality daycare. I don't begrudge the sharing of the research in the article, but I could do without the somewhat alarmist rhetoric implying that "daycare kids" are destined to have problems. There could be several other factors that could affect a child's behavior when the child has two working parents as opposed to a working parent and a stay-at-home parent -- not just daycare.



 

 


I know this is not what sapphire_chan meant but I just wanted to add that I've seen low quality daycare first hand.  We went to a home daycare once to check it out for DD.  It was SCARY (as in run for the hills scary).  There were kids up to age 3 there, not a one said a WORD when we entered, they didn't interact with DD at all, and they barely moved the entire time we were there.  I have no clue what those children were like before entering daycare but I can certainly believe that place adversely affected their growth!  cold.gif DD's been in daycare before for very brief periods of time and I can tell you those places were wonderful, they had loving caregivers and you better believe they formed strong attachments to those children.  I DO think a daycare/schooling environment (even absolutely wonderful schools/daycares) can be enormously stressful on some kids (cough-my kid in particular-cough!) but I think those are immediate affects unlesss it's something where the child is seriously not getting their needs met (very advanced or delayed children, for example). 

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post

Really the problem with looking at long term studies to shape parenting behavior is why should the child suffer in the moment? Whether doing CIO with an infant, or keeping a 3 year old home all day who desperately wants/needs more time with friends their age, they won't have statistically significant results over an entire population in 20 years, but for the individual kid all they know is that they are sad and there's no help.



yeahthat.gif

 

 

 

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Old 04-15-2011, 12:47 PM
 
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I agree with this article very much as well.

 

And I also don't think that a limited amount of CIO would cause long-term damage, at least not against the matrix of an otherwise loving and responsive environment.  That's not why I wouldn't do it; I wouldn't do it because it is confusing and distressing to the child *in the moment* and it is not worth it to me to put my kid through that.  But maybe parents under more pressure than I (like moms with twins) would have a different cost-benefit calculus. 

 

On daycare, I find it interesting that everyone on this thread assumes the increased risk-taking in daycare children is a bad thing.  I would prefer my kids to be more on the assertive, risk-taking side than on the shy and conservative side.  If having to hold their own in a supervised community of children promotes that, I'm all for it personally.  But I do think that the differences among day cares are so great that studies of just 'day care vs no day care' are not bound to turn up very much that is meaningful.


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Old 04-15-2011, 12:58 PM
 
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On daycare, I find it interesting that everyone on this thread assumes the increased risk-taking in daycare children is a bad thing.  I would prefer my kids to be more on the assertive, risk-taking side than on the shy and conservative side.  If having to hold their own in a supervised community of children promotes that, I'm all for it personally.


I wondered what they meant by "risking-taking."  Trying out for something that is competitive is taking a risk. Signing up for a class that you aren't quite sure you can do is taking a risk. Speaking up to a bully is risk taking. The first time one goes downhill skiing, they are risk taking.

 

One of my DDs has some special needs that put her in the category of avoiding all risk because her fear and anxiety response are out of wack (she's on the autism spectrum). Risk taking is a positive trait when it is balance with a little judgment, and when we (the adults) value what the child is taking a risk for.

 

 

 


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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Old 04-21-2011, 09:04 AM
 
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risk taking when measured by scientists is usually things like unprotected sex, jumping off buildings, doing drugs, and speeding.  things that risk the life of the teen.

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Old 04-22-2011, 09:06 AM
 
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Here's what I come away with.. I assume he's a working parent? and did he say it took his 7 years to convince his wife to have another? And that having lots of kids is "easy".. well, it sounds like maybe his wife disagreed ;) And when he said he was hoping for twins for the next pregnancy, it made me wonder, does his wife hope that? she's the one who has to go through the pregnancy! I'm sure a twin pregnancy is physically difficult. No matter how laid back and relaxed a parent you are, its not going to be easy! Worth it, sure, but to imply that all we have to do is chill out a bit and parenting will be cake? Nah. Don't buy it.

I heard the guy on NPR this morning and said the same thing to DH.  
 

 


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Old 04-23-2011, 12:52 PM
 
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I think it's an interesting article. I think he's referring to some things I see on here sometimes that amaze me. Like in that big house cleaning thread a while back. Or some discussions about time alone or grown up time. People who literally can't find a way to vacuum or watch a movie with their partner because they devote 24/7 to hands-on face to face care of their kids.
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We enrolled them in an activity or two, but they spent a lot more time watching cartoons while we relaxed. Our family specialized in activities that were literally “fun for the whole family”: reading books together, playing dodgeball in the basement, going to the pool for a swim.

I don't see how that can be a bad thing!


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Old 04-23-2011, 10:37 PM
 
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I think it's an interesting article. I think he's referring to some things I see on here sometimes that amaze me. Like in that big house cleaning thread a while back. Or some discussions about time alone or grown up time. People who literally can't find a way to vacuum or watch a movie with their partner because they devote 24/7 to hands-on face to face care of their kids.


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We enrolled them in an activity or two, but they spent a lot more time watching cartoons while we relaxed. Our family specialized in activities that were literally “fun for the whole family”: reading books together, playing dodgeball in the basement, going to the pool for a swim.



I don't see how that can be a bad thing!
 


I totally agree. I feel like I'm somewhere in the middle with AP, I'm definitely not as hands-off as many parents I know IRL but I'm definitely not as 24/7 as many parents here. I just can't handle it. I love my baby and I'm totally connected to him, but I need my own space as well. I think his phrase "pay less attention to them" is tongue in cheek, but the message resonates with me. While I think the major decisions that you make for your child in terms of how you structure your parenting (you're not going to spank, you're going to nurse, you're not going to CIO, etc.) are important and shape how your child turns out, I don't think every little decision has enduring reprocussions. For example, I have a SIL who micromanages every little morsel her child puts in his mouth so that its extremely nutritious and doesn't allow any TV. In turn, she spends much of her day managing food, feeding him, and arguing about food or personally entertaining him because she doesn't have TV as an outlet. I feel bad for her sometimes. We don't need to totally micromanage our children. We need to teach our children to be independant and play on their own or eat on their own (within reason) or else they'll turn into these children we all know who must have a parent available for entertainment or else they don't know what to do with themselves.

 

For the reader who said that the theory doesn't apply to babies, I totally disagree. My baby can often be found crawling around the house by himself, picking toys out of his toy bin by himself, and occupying himself for an hour or more while I do my WAHM work, or simply cook dinner. I cannot be found stacking blocks for literally 8 hours a day just because Daniel likes to do that. I'm a very active participant in his life (obviously) and I consider myself to be a very gentle parent, but I also allow Daniel to have time by himself, whether its to play in his crib quietly at the end of a nap (even though I could rush right in when he wakes up, lest he cry) or feed himself in his highchair while I cook. It's just easier this way.

 


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Old 04-24-2011, 08:03 AM
 
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I totally see your point. Haven't read the article yet but right with you sistah! I read something on MDC that made me realize: I do feel that my kids are like a batch of cookies and if I just do the recipe exactly right, they will turn out right. Way too much pressure and not realistic at all. If the article helped your guilt and pressure lessen that it was probably exactly what you needed to hear at the moment. I will read it when I get a moment.

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Well, I guess I'm interested to hear whether we think this approach is compatible with AP: I'm not convinced that it's not, despite the (irrelevant & distracting, IMO) celebration of CIO etc. The details here are less interesting to me than the overall issue: how to free oneself from the paralyzing (and stressful) belief that every little aspect of parenting is somehow constitutive of the adults they will grow into? I don't think this is *necessarily* opposed to AP, whatever its author may believe (and I don't think he suggests that AP is altogether a "waste of time"). Continuum Concept, for eg, seems to advocate something similar: not micromanaging one's kids, not being overly child-centered at the expense of everything else. I'm struggling with this as my kids get older--I'm a firm believer in AP during babyhood, but how does one transition to something less...I don't know...obsessive in the later years?

 

Having two kids that are so incredibly different, and have been from day 1, has made me realize how much of their personalities is hardwired, something I would never have believed before having kids. But obviously that doesn't mean just throwing up one's hands and leaving them to it... So how to balance one's own emotional health with the needs, as they manifest themselves, of one's children?


 

 

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Old 04-24-2011, 09:31 AM
 
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Loved the article.

 

I identify as AP but I consider myself a slacker mom.  They're not mutually exclusive for me.  AP is not martyrdom and AP has nothing to do with how much intensity you put into parenting.  I don't think you have to overly structure your kids' days or be constantly interacting with them to have a connected family.  All things in moderation.

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Old 04-24-2011, 10:34 AM
 
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For the reader who said that the theory doesn't apply to babies, I totally disagree. My baby can often be found crawling around the house by himself, picking toys out of his toy bin by himself, and occupying himself for an hour or more while I do my WAHM work, or simply cook dinner. I cannot be found stacking blocks for literally 8 hours a day just because Daniel likes to do that. I'm a very active participant in his life (obviously) and I consider myself to be a very gentle parent, but I also allow Daniel to have time by himself, whether its to play in his crib quietly at the end of a nap (even though I could rush right in when he wakes up, lest he cry) or feed himself in his highchair while I cook. It's just easier this way.

 

 

 


 

Wow, we keep agreeing today! : )

 

As we speak, my 10 month old is ripping apart some unwanted magazines and entertaining himself while I surf the web (standing up so computer will be out of his reach). Am I going to drop whatever I'm doing the second he gets bored and fusses? Um no. Because he has to learn how to handle life on his own sometimes. Now, I spend plenty of time playing with him, reading to him, taking him for walks and holding him. But I cannot and will not devote every waking moment to him. Because that would make me miserable. 

 

My hubby and I read the article, and found the guy a little self-congratulatory. My hubby called him a tool, LOL. But I do think he has a point. Part of the reason why parenting is so stressful is because modern families feel a lot of pressure to be accomplish some set of objectives with their children, whether its AP or just helicopter-type stuff. 

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Old 04-24-2011, 10:52 AM
 
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Wow, we keep agreeing today! : )

 

As we speak, my 10 month old is ripping apart some unwanted magazines and entertaining himself while I surf the web (standing up so computer will be out of his reach). Am I going to drop whatever I'm doing the second he gets bored and fusses? Um no. Because he has to learn how to handle life on his own sometimes. Now, I spend plenty of time playing with him, reading to him, taking him for walks and holding him. But I cannot and will not devote every waking moment to him. Because that would make me miserable. 

 

My hubby and I read the article, and found the guy a little self-congratulatory. My hubby called him a tool, LOL. But I do think he has a point. Part of the reason why parenting is so stressful is because modern families feel a lot of pressure to be accomplish some set of objectives with their children, whether its AP or just helicopter-type stuff. 

Hehe, we must be on the same wavelength. I also found him a little self-congratulatory. I think we sometimes dwell so much on every little detail that we forget that women have been having children for many, many, many years. There were babies born in medieval Europe in countrysides or babies born in caves in the Middle East. Surely they didn't spend every waking moment stacking blocks and teaching their 9month olds to read lest they get behind. I'm sure that they also weren't wholly preoccupied with the smallest fuss or with every morsel the baby put in their mouth, lest it ruin their breastfeeding relationship. 
 

 


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Old 04-24-2011, 03:59 PM
 
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I've read Caplan's book and read his blog regularly---I was an econ major in college---and I agree with a lot of what he says. His ferberizing doesn't even bother me because I recognize that based on all the twin and adoption studies he referred to, if any of his kids weren't having it with the sleep training, they would have just kept on screaming and not put up with it. 10 minutes of crying isn't going to cause a baby irreparable harm. While I don't do cry it out with my kids, my newborn probably cries that much in or longer in the car when we're running errands.

What he really drills into you in his book is simply that in the battle of nature vs. nurture, nurture wins out pretty much every trime---assuming of course you are the average family living in the first world and not abusing your kids. If you look at it on the margin, nurture does very little to improve your child's IQ, future, income, happiness or whatever. Parents (and society) tend to overestimate how much they affect their kids' success or failure or personalities and really, acknowledging that there is very little you can do about it is very freeing. You worry less about OMG--my kid isn't reading at age 2 or whatever and just learn to enjoy your kids and enjoy raising them.

At any rate, I recommend reading the book, especially if you're on the fence about having more kids or (as in my case), just had a newborn and are sitting there going "how could I possibly have any more?" It was really a refreshing read and probably the most important thing I got out of it is the fact that when kids were surveyed and asked what was the one thing they could change about their parents, they said they wished their parents were happier and less stressed. So despite the fact that my inclination is to be a total b*tch when I haven't gotten enough sleep, I'm really trying to just be in a better mood and let more things slide so I can just relax and be in a better mood around my kids. Totally worth it.


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