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#1 of 23 Old 02-25-2003, 11:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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This is a mini-vent. Every year (sometimes 2x a year) we spend time with a number of other families at a retreat of sorts. We only see them at this retreat. We always have a great time. Anyway, every afternoon there is a parenting "disscussion" group and we always go and enjoy the stimulating conversation.

Well, from the first time six years ago, our basic ideas about the nature of children and the responsibility of parents has been *drastically* different than anyone else's. It actually leads to some interesting conversations. We are the youngest parents there though, and every year several people say something along the lines of, "Well, you are idealistic right now, but you will change your mind/become more realistic as your children get older, you have more than one, you get more tired, etc..."

At first I tried to respect comments like that. After all, what did I know? But now here we are -- after 6 and 1/2 years of parenting and with TWO children, and YES, we have matured and changed. And YES, we know more than we used to. But to their surprise, we have become MORE articulate about and comitted to gentle discipline and repsctful parenting.

But even now, they are STILL making these stupid and patronizing comments to us.

What I am realizing is that we are not just "idealistic" and that these other parents were NEVER where we are now in terms of their thinking. They started with a drastically different set of assumptions about children and parenting than we have, and they moved on from there without every questioning their foundational philosophies.

Don't get me wrong -- I respect and care for many of them. But they talk to us as if they were once where we are now in their thinking, and then they "wised up." And as I get deeper into my parenting journey, I am realizing they are completely missing me and where I am coming from.

The little comments are starting to irritate me!
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#2 of 23 Old 02-25-2003, 01:22 PM
 
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I can empathize, mamaduck. I am often on the receiving end of comments that imply that I am somehow not as much of a "real" parent because I only have one child. Many times people will engage me in a conversation about parenting style and when they see that i do things differently than they, the response is usually, "Well, it's easy for you to be so (insert word here...attentive, patient, etc.)...you only have one child. It's different when you have two."

I don't argue that having more than one child is different, but I think that having an only child has its challenges as well. And I do resent being treated like I don't know as much about children and/or parenting simply because I have one child. I'm sure that things would change in my home if I had another child, but I would also put extra effort into sticking to my basic philosophies!
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#3 of 23 Old 02-25-2003, 01:37 PM
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My oldest is almost 19 and I think that other forms of discipline are LESS likely to work as they get older. The more close minded and punitive you are, the more likely they are to tune you out and rebel. At least you are carefully thinking about what you do, I don't think most people do. Just my .02 cents.

I don't really understand what having more than one child has to do with discipline methods. Yes, you have less time, you are more tired, and maybe have to have more structured lives, especially if your children are very close in age, but I found that I became more AP the more children I had. You come to see that there is no great rush to make them independent mini-adults. You let them have a real childhood because it lasts such a short time.
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#4 of 23 Old 02-25-2003, 03:01 PM
 
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Mamaduck, I've heard all htose comments too. They have actually been very effective in making me doubt myself. I often wonder, Will I start spanking when he's 4? and What if #2 is more difficult and AP just "doesn't work?" ANyway, thanks mamduck and glh for your encouragement that it is not impossible to AP more than one child, or children over 2.
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#5 of 23 Old 02-25-2003, 04:06 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by LunaMom
...when they see that i do things differently than they, the response is usually, "Well, it's easy for you to be so (insert word here...attentive, patient, etc.)...you only have one child.
Or...it's because you are a SAHM, or b/c you only work "part time" or because your DH doesn't work long hours, or because you have 2 cars, or b/c you have a cleaning lady come twice a month, or because you.....

get it?

They just pick on whatever YOU have/do that they don't and then use that as a justification for why your views are "uninformed" and theirs are "wise".

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#6 of 23 Old 02-25-2003, 04:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, Piglet, and to be honest -- I could handle it better if they just came out and said, "I'm doing the best that I can with the resources that I have." Because I think that is true.

But it is like they can't connect on ANY level to the truth in what we believe. They can't consider for a minute that children are equals, or that "respect for people" should be a higher family priority than "respect for parents." Words like that come out of my mouth, and are instantly written off as "idealistic."

It is not like I am a walking success -- or that I perfectly implement everything I believe. But I *think* about this stuff and I *try.* You know?
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#7 of 23 Old 02-25-2003, 04:46 PM
 
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mamaduck (in her infinite wisdom) wrote:

"But it is like they can't connect on ANY level to the truth in what we believe. They can't consider for a minute that children are equals, or that "respect for people" should be a higher family priority than "respect for parents." Words like that come out of my mouth, and are instantly written off as "idealistic."

It is not like I am a walking success -- or that I perfectly implement everything I believe. But I *think* about this stuff and I *try.* You know?"



Yes, and this is precisely what makes you an awesome mama!

You know, I think that your views re: parenting *are* a bit idealistic - as are mine. It is idealistic to consider a societal shift to treating children as human beings worthy of respect because it's so far away from where we are now. But that idealism is something to be proud of, not ashamed of (as others seem to think). If it weren't for idealists, nothing would ever change for the better


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#8 of 23 Old 02-25-2003, 05:20 PM
 
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Mamaduck, I understand. And you have met Dh once or twice, I don't know if you remember,but he likes to say things like that, just to get people going. : He sees how annoyed I get and has a weird sense of humor. So now, he'll be devils advocate and say the things you have mentioned. I fall into the trap and get all mad!lol Or he'll go along with other people when they say it, then smurk at the end and say,"Actually..."

Stay strong, you know you are a great parent and what seperates you from the others is that you are conscious of your decisions, you know any positive results come from patience. You also don't parent a certain way b/c "everyone else does it this way".
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#9 of 23 Old 02-25-2003, 07:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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bebesho2 -- I think that is a man thing. Mine does it too. He argues with you even when he agrees with you, a devilish gleam in his eye the whole time!

But these people are serious, and intense.
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#10 of 23 Old 02-25-2003, 07:59 PM
 
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Hi mamaduck, I often "eavesdrop" on your posts, and I like to read what you have to say.

I am "idealistic" too, and it's early yet, but dh and I are succeeding in what we set out to do, and that feels wonderful.

Why shouldn't we strive for our ideals? Thank goodness, as it turns out, I'm not becoming horribly lazy and changing my whole set of principles because I had a baby! After two though, well, apparently all that I strive to be is out the window

I heard many times "oh, just wait, you'll: eat crappy food while pregnant; have terrible morning sickness; have an awful delivery, etc." If I had listened to all the negative things I have heard, I'd have been so discouraged I never would have started!

Anyway, I think useless comments like you mentioned are really people being defensive after seeing you do what they have not/could not/would not!!

Jen
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#11 of 23 Old 02-25-2003, 08:01 PM
 
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Do you think that some of it is self-protection? They see the way you are parenting, they see the positive results - and, because they have done things differently (and less idealistically!), they have to somehow write your success off? Or assume that at some point in the future it will go away?

I'm always told that the way we parent works because my girls are calm and biddable. Hmph. The people saying that have never seen them in full blown tantrum mode!
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#12 of 23 Old 02-25-2003, 08:12 PM
 
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I hate it when people think they know me better than I do. My ILs are always predicting my behavior and attitudes. If they aren't doing that they are continuing to make fun of their interpretation of things I said 6 years ago that they think was stupid or idealistic (not things that they turned out to be *right* about BTW).
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#13 of 23 Old 02-25-2003, 08:18 PM
 
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I think that the comments come from an incredible amount of insecurity, and an unwillingness to be introspective.

I dealt with this too--and frankly, it was the single hardest part of my pregnancy the first time. It started in the OB's office: "Oh, lots of women *try* to have a natural childbirth. But I want you to know that only about 10% of them do it, and that's why we have pain relief measures and a whole staff of people here to help you get through this."

And then after the baby's home: "Oh, you'll use that swing so much when the colic kicks in. No pacifier? But he'll suck his thumb! Yeah, I thought I was gonna breastfeed for a year too. But the cracked nipples, the bleeding,.."

And when baby is around 9 months: "You have to start disciplining him. Why do you let him crawl wherever he wants--you need a playpen. When are you going to buy a crib--he can't stay in the bed with you much longer. He's manipulating you, you know..."

And so on. It drives me nuts too. One very effective way to deal with it, for me, is to simply ask, "Why?"

When someone tells me the baby is "manipulating" me, I'll ask, "Why do you think so?"

"It's obvious!" they say.

"Not to me. Why/how is he manipulating me?"

Blank stare.

They can't back up their beliefs with a logical, concrete explanation. Have you ever asked these parents WHY they believe what they believe? How their parenting relates to those beliefs? What their ideal "end product" (kid) is? What kind of PERSON they want to raise?

DH often says he wants to raise our sons to be men he'll look up to when he's old. That's OUR goal.

When I had ds2 (who is 11 mo) I heard a lot of the "when you have two, you'll see how..." and what I found--gasp--was that I parent ds2 in a MORE AP fashion than I ever did ds1! And because I stuck to my guns with sd1, a lot of the "issues" (no pacifier, no crib, etc...) couldn't be thrown at me as being "idealistic" because I could just say "hey, it worked for Ben." That shut them up.

So I don't have any advice overall. Just ask why.
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#14 of 23 Old 02-25-2003, 08:23 PM
 
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I get those same things said to me all the time because I am young (22) and dd is our first child.
So tell me this how about the pyschologists who give parenting advice but have no children? They are still respected.

Mom of a 7 yr old, 4 yr old, and 1 yr old. Wow. How did that happen?
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#15 of 23 Old 02-25-2003, 11:27 PM
 
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mamaduck - ITA with so much that has been said here, and I think you are so right that you are just coming from a totally different set of assumptions than they are. You of course know that you are a *fabulous* mama and they are just *wrong*!!


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#16 of 23 Old 02-25-2003, 11:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It is idealistic to consider a societal shift to treating children as human beings worthy of respect because it's so far away from where we are now. But that idealism is something to be proud of, not ashamed of (as others seem to think).
Perfectly stated. Thanks Dragonfly.
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#17 of 23 Old 02-26-2003, 02:35 AM
 
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I agree with everyone hear that it is all an issue of there own insecurities. Let me tell you, I am sure they felt the same gut wrenching feeling when they let there baby CIO. I am sure they had there heart break when they saw the tears well up and utter pain in there child's eyes the first time they spanked them. Yet they told themselves, that is what I am supposed to do, that is the only way to raise them. So when they see you raising wonderful children in a loving way it threatens the very core of their beliefs of raising children, and makes them feel that maybe it didn't have to be so painful. I am a young mom, and hear comments like this all the time, so I just try to keep this in mind. In fact it feels insulting when people comment how wonderful ds is and then say I was lucky he is the way he is. I just think, he is that way because of how I have raised him, it isn't "luck." So just know, it isn't about you, it is about them.
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#18 of 23 Old 02-26-2003, 08:56 AM
 
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We've received our share of these comments, too, but mostly from people whose children are the same age as mine! I've always wondered why those moms thought they knew all the secrets of parenting when they didn't have any more experience than I did. They always seemed to cite unnamed "experts" or make ominous predictions (you know, "The experts say you shouldn't let your baby blah blah blah," and, "Just wait until she's older -- you'll be sorry you didn't use time-outs now.")

Now that my oldest is 6, I've noticed that the know-it-all moms who felt most entitled to criticize and give unsolicited advice are the moms whose parenting I admire the least. And those same moms are the ones who now feel obligated to point out how lucky I am and how much easier I have it than they do: "You're lucky -- your kids are good listeners." Or I get backhanded compliments: "You're lucky to have so much free time. I just couldn't ignore the housework that way."

It's not a competition, I know, but I'll admit (not proudly) that I do feel some petty satisfaction when I see how my children are turning out compared to the children of the know-it-alls.

Diana
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#19 of 23 Old 02-26-2003, 05:31 PM
 
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AP and gentle discipline take more effort than "mainstream" parenting. It takes more thought, more patience, more education, more follow-through, and there is less support for it in the general community. But it feels right, and we feel good about ourselves and our children when we stick to it.

I imagine that using CIO, spanking, leaving babies unattended for long periods in playpens, etc., makes many mothers feel guilty. It probably feels wrong, but "everyone else is doing this, and my mother said I should," so they go ahead even though it makes them uncomfortable. When they see a mother doing things the AP way, it makes them feel inadequate because they don't have the cojones to stand up to what everyone is telling them and do what feels right, so to make themselves feel better, they attribute our style to something like our age, the number of children we have, or our "naivete" - something that doesn' describe themselves - because then they can tell themselves that they wouldn't and couldn't do what we are doing, and then they feel better (I guess : ) about not doing it!

I've gotten to the point where I just stare at people blankly and say nothing, and usually this makes them shut up. The echo of their words must start to sound foolish to them!
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#20 of 23 Old 02-26-2003, 05:46 PM
 
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I get alot of these vibes, particularly from one sil. (I know more than you because I have more kids, more experience, etc. ...) The line I'm waiting to use when the right moment comes is this one: "You know more about your parenting style and your children. But I know more about my parenting style and my child." (I'll be polite and not add that I actually know more about children in general than she does, having studied early childhood education, and having had--even before my own child--a passionate interest in children, their development, and how to parent them.)

I really get frustrated with the implication that we do things the way we do with ds because he is the first, the long-awaited, and we just need someone to spoil and don't have the gumption to not give in to him. They don't seem to understand that this is a philosophical choice that's been carefully studied and made.

Sil and I were discussing a mutual friend's child who had an extremely difficult time coping when a new baby came to his family. Sil actually said that his mom should have paid less attention to him so he wouldn't be used to all that attention when he suddenly had to share!
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#21 of 23 Old 02-26-2003, 07:07 PM
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I had been visiting a new church and wasn't comfortible putting my 18Mo son in the nursery. After a few weeks I thought I'd give it a shot and, letting him know what I was doing, I left and observed him from the door. The door had wooden vent slats and I could hear everything that was going on inside.

A man (with two children) started talking about me in a snide manner.

(paraphrased) Look at her, how ridiculous, worrying about the toddler, I bet she's a first-time mother.

A friend was in the nursery (staying with *her* 17MO) responded, "That's her *sixth* child".

People pull that patronizing act because of their own insecurities.

DB
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#22 of 23 Old 02-27-2003, 05:50 PM
 
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I heard these comments when I was a new mom at age 20, and after I had my fourth baby I was still getting comments. "Why don't you put that baby down, you need a break sometime!" Or, maybe your babies will sleep better if you let them cry instead of nursing/rocking them to sleep. This is the silliest comment, and this is where having experience with several children has paid off for me, because I did not AP my older children. I did all the mainstream stuff when they were young, and they still were "clingy" babies and didn't sleep "well". I also get comments about not spanking (if you don't spank them they'll rule the household) and that I need to talk more "sternly" to my children or they will not respect me. In other words, I need to make cutting, derogatory remarks and belittle my children or else they won't respect me? Ugh! I can tell you that these remarks do not end no matter how many children you have or what your parenting style is. When I take only 1 child to the grocery store, I almost always get comments like "he's cute now but wait till he gets older", or I get "the look" from parents who've "been there, done that" when my toddler is in the midst of a tantrum ("oh that poor first time- doesn't know anything mom"). Funny but some of those parents had a child or 2 who were slightly older than my baby or toddler and they felt the need to act like "know it alls". I do get some enjoyment watching their smug grins turn into open, silent mouths when I tell them this is my 4th child and my kids are older than theirs:-)
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#23 of 23 Old 02-27-2003, 06:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Here is a good one:
My ds has a t-shirt that says
"I may be little but to God I'm big stuff."

Thats cute, right?

So he was wearing at the mall, and an older gentleman approached us and said, "Well that is true. What his t-shirt says is true, but Mom, you gotta remember that boy still needs proper training."

I still cringe wondering what he meant by "proper training."

Ugh.
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