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Thread: How to bring my "Dr. Spock" mom into the AP world? Reply to Thread
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  Topic Review (Newest First)
09-28-2004 06:06 PM
KellyB I just read this whole thread for the first time...
It is strangely like therapy... need to know in no uncertain terms...
Motherhood IS the best experience you could ever have! And you ARE going to be a great and loving mom!
I'm so sorry you can't hear this from you mom...that's really sad.
My baby's first birthday is tomorrow, so I've been doing a lot of thinking this week about the first months he was here. And I don't think an extended stay with your mom will probably be a good thing. (just my opinion...others might disagree).
For the first 6 weeks or so that I was a mom, I didn't want anyone in my house but me, my husband, and the baby. I got annoyed when friends would stop by. I just wanted to lock the door, turn off the phone, and bond with the baby.
I was deeply tapping into some primitive, mommy auto-pilot , almost psychic relationship with the baby thing. The first time I sang the baby a lullaby it was like I felt instantly connected to every mother to have ever lived over the course of humanity...the whole experience of bfing was mystic and magical. And having other people around in those early weeks sort of...well, spoiled the vibe.
I also went through the whole "mourning over the mother I never had even though I have a mom and she's not that bad" thing.
Now, at the end of the first year, I think I finally have a little acceptance with that...
(lol...or maybe my horomones are finally normal again...)
Anyway...good luck and congratulations!
Kepp us updated...
09-28-2004 11:30 AM
tracymom Aw, Shell! I'm sorry it didn't go well.

I went back and read the thread through from the beginning. I think you should print the whole thing and write your mom, enclose the thread, and say "THIS is how I feel. I love you and I want you to support my choices even when you don't agree with them. I respect your parenting choices but please understand that I will not do everything the same way you did. I'm sorry you seem to feel so negative about being my parent when I was small and I hope you get more joy out of your grandchild."

Or some such thing. She probably needs to hear that you love her; it's too bad she's equating that love with emulation.

Best of luck with your impending birth!
09-28-2004 11:04 AM
boomingranny twenty years from now our daughters will trash our parenting styles and have a book we should read instead of
09-28-2004 01:12 AM
eminer That sounds really demoralizing.
09-27-2004 11:30 PM
Shell Well, ladies, it's me again. I'm getting close. Less than six weeks from my due date. My folks flew in for a long weekend and left this morning. They came to see me with a big belly, and to "help" get ready for the big event.

It was a terrible weekend.

After oohing and ahhing over my belly, things quickly went downhill. My mom heard through the grapevine that I am planning on using cloth diapering, and she had no qualms telling me what a terrible and stupid decision that is. Her response was basically, "Puh-lease. Give me a break." She said that I was endangering my baby because she would have more episodes of diaper rash than those great new disposables that wick away the moisture from the surface. If she finds out that the baby has rashes, she will have to speak up because she "won't let me endanger her granddaughter." But she figures I will give up on it anyway, and I will just have to figure it out for myself. Then she and my dad would condescendingly joke about me ("environmentalist") as though I wasn't sitting in the room with them.

That same scenario repeated itself over and over again over the course of the weekend. Whether it was the steely glances she and my dad exchanged when I told them I wasn't getting a crib (at least not until we thought we needed one), or when she dropped hints that "some people cut their hair when they have a baby." My hair is very long, and she thinks it is unflattering and childish. She is always trying to get me to cut my hair. Not happening.

But that wasn't what made the weekend so stressful. What was so upsetting to me is her penchant for being so incredibly negative about the motherhood experience. To her, it is adult vs. child. The child keeps the mother from having her own life. She made the same jokes over and over about the baby "getting you back for what you did to me" and how the baby is going to take over my life. Finally I just had enough and I asked her to please stop being so negative. To consider that I want to devote myself to the baby. That I don't consider parenting a burden, but a joy. Of course, this made her get all defensive. She said, "didn't I raise three great kids? I had lots of friends that completely gave themselves over to their kids, and most of their kids are screwed up. But I wouldn't allow my kids to take over my life, and the three of you are all very well adjusted." We were both on edge the entire weekend, both of us feeling that we just couldn't say the right thing.

Maybe the fact that I have hardly slept in a week had something to do with it. My fuse was very short, and I feel overwhelmed with the end of my pregancy and getting ready for this big lifechanging event. I SO DESPERATELY want her to say to me, "motherhood is the best experience ever. You are going to be a great and loving mom. I am so happy for you." But that is just not my mom.

Furthermore, they just weren't much of a help. I felt I had to wait on them for most of their visit, and they couldn't appreciate the sheer level of exhaustion that my dh and I are feeling (there are other things going on in our life that have caused us to be exhausted). It made us both realize that maybe she shouldn't plan on an extended stay when the baby is born. It makes me so sad, and scared, because dh and I have no family or close friends in the area. We hired a post partum doula for 36 hours over two weeks, but that's not much. I have seen so many girlfriends be totally pampered by their moms, and I feel like I am in mourning for the mother I never had.

Ironically, my mom and I are close in our own way, and I do know that she loves me. She just cannot express it. To show her emotion is to show weakness. It is a control thing.

I'm exhausted and need to go to sleep. It was a really upsetting weekend. We were hardly talking when she left. This is not what I had envisioned. Fortunately, my husband and I are strong in our convictions, and we will raise our children in the way that we want to.

But it would just be so nice to have my mom's approval. And that I shall never have.

BTW, I realized in all this that I gave her the Dr. Sears book to read way too early. She read it in July, and she has completely forgotten it by now. Oh well. What else is new...
05-30-2004 09:56 PM
Embee Indeed, Piglet! What is ironing?! I haven't the faintest... plop it in the dryer or wear it wrinkled. Those are the choices at our house!

This really is an excellent and supportive conversation about the things we face having made "uncommon" decisions in parenting. And even though my confidence remains in tact, it still feels good to read others concerns and insights. Thanks Shell.
05-30-2004 06:17 PM
Originally Posted by frand
tracy- what a beautiful quote --"I haven't got anything more important to do than hold this baby." It sounds like you have a wonderful relationship with your mother. No surprise after a quote like that.
I envy those of you who have your mothers to even discuss this with tho. The hardest part of all of this is knowing how much my own mother, who died 10 years ago, would have loved my daughter, even if she would have balked at our EBF and shared baths...!
Your post brings me to
Yeah, you're right, me and mom are probably best friends at this point. She sometimes observes things I do and says "I wish I had done that with you" but I remind her that she did the best she knew how and that's all anybody can do.
I wish for you an extended AP family.
05-28-2004 08:38 PM
guestmama9924 My sister and I were raised by the Dr Spock book- I think it was the only book my poor/student parents bought! In their minds, he was the authority and they wanted to be good parents and did not know how so they ( like the multitude of What to Expect parents) used a book rather than instinct as their guide.
But YES, Dr Spock has evolved and grown these years too, here are some examples
"In his world-famous book Baby and Child Care, Dr. Benjamin Spock (now writes), "I no longer recommend dairy products. … The essential fats that are needed for brain development are found in vegetable oils. Milk is very low in these essential fats and high in the saturated fats that encourage artery blockage and weight problems as children grow."
"Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do" and
"(Parents) had been told that picking up infants when they cried would only spoil them; Spock countered that cuddling babies and bestowing affection on children would only make them happier and more secure. Instead of adhering to strict, one-size-fits-all dictates on everything from discipline to toilet training, Spock urged parents to be flexible and see their children as individuals."
Just some thoughts. I personally have read his books ( as a cbe) but personally used Sears ( whom is also flawed).
05-28-2004 08:28 PM
frand tracy- what a beautiful quote --"I haven't got anything more important to do than hold this baby." It sounds like you have a wonderful relationship with your mother. No surprise after a quote like that.

Now (deep sigh) -- what a timely discussion this is for me. After several years I am coming to realize that the AP-based way my husband and I raise our daughter has been very threatening to certain women in his family, especially my MIL. I don't care what they think about our choices, but the awful result is that they go to lengths to overpraise the other grandchildren in the family (their attractiveness, lovability, intelligence) while ignoring our child. This is very painful and I am at a point where I can't even be around them. Especially painful because I wholeheartedly gave a lot of love to the other grandchildren in the family over the years. Worse, my MIL is the only grandparent my child has.

It is a fascinating issue to contemplate --primal, I think. I feel like the women in the family have bonded against me because they share a much more authoritarian, aggrieved style of parenting. Ironically, the more outgoing and loving my daughter is, the more they ignore her!

I know at the core of all of this are their own insecurities and regrets and that's not going away anytime soon. The best insight came from my brother, who is single and childless, but teaches elementary school. He has cheered us on many times for raising our daughter to have a sense of personal power and said that is probably the thing most children lack: a sense of power in their lives. Not an egocentric power relative to others, but power that allows them to navigate the world with honesty and strength. He believes that when people don't have this in their own childhood, they subvert a lot of primal frustrations over the years (as attested to in some of these posts), and as adults can be the most reactive when they see a child being raised that way.

AP is empowering. I know we're doing the right thing for our child, but I realize now close family is not necessarily going to cheer you on and may in fact have the sharpest sword of all. You just have to focus on your child and say, 'this is my family' and do what is right for you.

I envy those of you who have your mothers to even discuss this with tho. The hardest part of all of this is knowing how much my own mother, who died 10 years ago, would have loved my daughter, even if she would have balked at our EBF and shared baths...!
05-26-2004 04:27 PM
Piglet68 Uh...just to emphasize even more the difference in domestic responsibilities between then and now...

Originally Posted by Bleu can't iron while bf'ing!
What's ironing?

05-26-2004 01:38 AM
Bleu Hey, thank you to Piglet and Embee and anyone else who enjoyed my post. It's nice to be read well! I am loving this thread, and everyone's thoughtful posts are really speaking to me and to things I've been chewing on myself.

Another element (that I can't believe I didn't mention when I was posting earlier) that affected the Dr. Spock generation of moms: sexism, most specifically in the division of household labor. Nearly every woman I know of that generation had the entire responsibility of raising all the children and taking care of the whole house without any meaningful contribution from her husband. The dads contributed little more (in terms of child-rearing) than a non-resident grandparent. It seems as if the mainstream expected level of housekeeping was much less flexible than it is today. Of course these women were hands-off with their children -- you can't iron while bf'ing!

Shell, I can't get into your mother issues right now because it's tripping me out too much with my mother issues! Good luck, though and thank you for starting this great thread!
05-25-2004 05:11 PM
Shell This is like my very own personal therapy session! I love it!

I would be remiss to not mention that when my dh bought me my first issue of Mothering Magazine over 2 years ago (he is quite a guy, that husband of mine), I felt like it was a huge homecoming. I had found my tribe! (It is sort of how I felt when I "discovered" the Grateful Dead back in college! ). I am SO grateful for this extended support network. Without it, I have no doubt that I would be quite stressed trying to defend my beliefs against those of our mainstream culture. I have struggled with that in other avenues of my life, as I am sure we all have. Meanwhile, I no longer feel a need to defend my choices out loud. Well, except to my mother... But seriously, it makes such a difference knowing that there are other folks out there who approach childbirth and parenting from a "natural" perspective. When others doubt my ways, I can just shrug it off. It is also great to see that many AP ways are becoming more mainstream.

On a related topic... my mother has subtly (ha!) asked about the credentials of my OB/GYN. Of course, I don't have one, but there is one affiliated with my midwife group practice -- so I have taken the liberty of saying that she is my doctor. I realized where the conversation was going, and quickly thwarted my plans to tell mom about the freestanding birthing center where we are planning to have the baby. I have pretty much been telling white lies ever since about where we are giving birth. It's not that much of a lie, in that having our birth in the hospital is an option. The other day she expressed how glad she was at our choices, because she had been concerned that I was going to try something "alternative."

So, two nights ago I had a terrible dream that I was at the birthing center in labor, and my mom was frantically calling the hospital to see what room I was in and to check on my progress. Of course, I wasn't there, so she went into a panic. I hate lying to my mother, but I must admit, it is the smartest thing I've done in years! The alternative would be much worse!!! I know several of you will say I should tell her the truth, but you don't know my mother! I will hear about this terrible decision every day for the next five months. My brother has been telling her white lies for years, and has always chastised me for being so honest - and stupid! My interest in "changing her" has caused me more grief than good over the years.

The only way I can keep this up is because she said that she doesn't want to fly in for the birth, but immediately after. Of course, she also thinks I will have a two day hospital stay and then hire a baby nurse for two weeks (ha!). She is really into this baby nurse thing! Oy. I am trying to find a post partum doula, which works for me, but my mom doesn't think its enough.

So now I am hoping that I can "train" her to call my dh on his cell phone when the big day comes, rather than try to call the hospital. Or, we could just not tell her when we go into labor... but unless I am early, that will be hard. I am sure she will be calling all the time. This whole lying thing is causing me some stress, hence the dreams.

Thanks everyone for such an interesting dialogue. I am really enjoying this too, and am getting a lot out of it.
05-25-2004 04:26 PM
zinemama Shell, congratulations on your pregnancy, and I think it's great that you are having this dialogue with your parents. I've had many of the same conversations with my mom who was a total Spock devotee (although she breastfed me - in Nebraska! - in 1965). Just keep in mind that this is going to be an ongoing dialogue. My mom supports what I'm doing, but can't resist telling me sometimes how much happier I'd be if I could just get that kid out of my bed. I don't mind it. "Do you hear me complaining about him in my bed?" has always been the best response.

I did want to address one thing in your OP though. Please, for the sake of your sanity and self-esteem, do not make the mistake of assuming that AP-raised kids won't throw tantrums. Now, maybe yours won't - I hope so! But every AP parent I know has tantrum-throwing kids, me included. Age three is age three, no matter which way you slice it. You are probably quite right about your stepkids being so great due to AP parenting, but you're also probably seeing the result now of how those tantrums were addressed back then. best wishes to you
05-25-2004 12:02 PM
Korwynne kerc - thank you. I've read so much stuff over the years that I couldn't remember where I'd gotten that from I don't necessarily agree with that book all together, but the fourth trimester stuff made a heck of a lot of sense to me.
05-25-2004 10:28 AM
Piglet68 I forgot to mother did the "you are overthinking this" stuff before baby was born. In fact, she even sat down and had a talk with my father about her concerns (they have been divorced for ages, and she doesn't speak to him unless it's a "serious" parenting issue, lol). She thought all this stuff about cosleeping, exclusive BFing etc was "setting us up for a reality shock", or something silly like that. She also used to tease the heck out of me for getting alot of info online (here at MDC). She thought the idea of the discussion board was silly, etc. (getting advice from strangers!). And had this idea that the Internet is full of useless and questionable information (well, it is, but there is also alot of good stuff).

Well, just the other day I was mentioning a thread here on MDC, and she said how she never had any such support system. She had told me not long ago how isolated and alone she was as an essentially single mother, with few friends in this country and no role models whatsoever. She said it was a very lonely time. She thinks it's so great that I have LLL and AP groups, and even MDC.

It amazed me that she turned around like that. But as others here have pointed out, our parents can surprise us!
05-24-2004 11:00 PM
Embee Almost forgot... excellent post/insights Bleu!
05-24-2004 10:56 PM
Embee Shel,

I totally get where you're at right now... I was there (realizations and all) 3 1/2 years ago. And you know? I've found that I didn't really have to do any "getting my mom to my kind of thinking" tricks. I simply need to follow my own heart and instincts because I was now THE MOM. My mom was certainly taken aback by many of the choices DH and I have made, and I admit early on there were some uncomfortable times between us. However, as time has passed and I have made my choices confidently and QUIETLY clear, my mom has seen that there is indeed another way to parent a child. My son is amazing and she loves him beyond words. She doesn't question one thing I do. Not one thing. And every once and awhile, I even ask her for advice or experiences she had as a mom. There is a general feeling of mutual respect between us. The comparison we've found is a difficult one to make. She hadn't much access to parenting literature at that time and also had a large family which she raised largely on her own. Me, OTOH, chose to wait until my 30's to start a family and have decided, happily to stop at one. I have a hands on DH. Two people, two totally different situations, two different times.

As for not knowing what you'll do until they "come out." I'm not so sure I agree with your Dad (a cute story though). The fact is, I HAD instincts that many traditional or "mainstream" books wanted to refute and disengage. I went looking for information to support how *I* felt and was soooooooo relieved to know there was indeed another way. This empowered me to feel confident about my choices and helped me shape a philosophy for raising my son. Sure, I've changed some things here and there to meet his needs or mine when it was appropriate, but overall, I did have a strong feeling about the HOWS and the WHYS and have brought them into my actual parenting.

So, while being long winded here what I'm trying to say is... don't worry so much about swaying people to your way of thinking. Simply raise your child the way you feel is right and feel confident in that. Chances are your confidence will speak volumes and if your parents are respectful of your choices (and they should be, they raised you 100% right, right?) then they should give advice only when asked. AP is really such a state of mind... a way of raising a child with a different mindset. The example you gave of running to room was certainly one I lived myself. The difference between my mom's thinking and mine would she would have certainly seen it as an "act" as you said. For me, I'd have seen it as a call for attention... when my son is doing something for attention it's usually because that's exactly what he needs.

The best to you and go forth in confidence.
05-24-2004 02:16 PM
What helped me the most with my mother and MIL was when I read that the first three months should be considered the fourth trimester and babies NEED to be held/worn as much as possible... that it reduces the risk of colic, etc.
and that's in the really popular book/video about how to calm a crying baby -- how to have the happiest baby on the block by Harvey Carp
05-24-2004 01:11 PM
Korwynne I just found this thread (I've been overwhelmed trying to coordinate my first swap so haven't been reading a lot the past week or so)

I've got a mother who is always telling me how strange co-sleeping is, etc and that "We would have NEVER done that".. and that nursing never even occurred to her as a possiblity, but she's glad she didn't do it because she didn't have the patience and wasn't calm enough to do so... and a MIL who has never commented on the whole co-sleeping thing but is continually making comments about how now that DS is 17 months and finally has some teeth (didn't get any until almost 15 months) and is biting due to the pain of teething how I'd better "hurry up" and wean him.. and who is very proud of the fact that she was in a test group for disposible diapers so she "got out" of using cloth with DH (I disposible diaper though, so she's telling me this to try to have something in common though) so I understand...

What helped me was to read up on the literature and philosophies available during the time (it helped that DH and I are 2 weeks apart in age, so it was the same time period).. that way I had the background I needed to discuss things with them.. and I "overprepared" for my first... because I wanted to be able to say "yes, I read the literature, and no, we're not concerned about sids in the family bed.. " and be able to back up anything that became an issue.. I also wanted to be prepared for things BEFORE they happenned... there's nothing like a co-sleeping child trying to practice skills in their sleep (which a lot of kids do, co-sleeping or not).. having a little one trying to crawl or stand when they're next to you is a bit different than having them do them in a different room, I would suspect.. I probably would have freaked out with some of the things they were trying to do if I didn't expect them.. I found it easier to know when to expect growth spurts, etc... but I guess I was overprepared Really, the main thing for me was wanting to be able to explain the "why" of things we were doing and why that was the best choice for our family.. and believe me, it came in handy.

And it continues... MIL was telling me Saturday that it was a horrible idea for me to be teaching DS to stick out his tongue at me.... stopped her short when I explained that he's a bit tongue tied, and getting him to do things like stick out his tongue is stretching it out a bit (he can stick his tongue out twice as far now!) and that I'd much rather have a little one sticking out his tongue than having to have it clipped as its such a gentler alternative... LOL - she just looked at me and said "oh"

What helped me the most with my mother and MIL was when I read that the first three months should be considered the fourth trimester and babies NEED to be held/worn as much as possible... that it reduces the risk of colic, etc.
05-24-2004 11:53 AM
kerc wow this thread has been really thought provoking for me. I find it so invigorating (is that spelled right?) to discuss parenting like this. Not the kind of conversation I get with my graduate school friends (single male geologists).

So while I appreciate Shell's mum's comments about Sears saying "follow your instinct" and then "telling you what your instinct is", I also think he NEEDS to do that. I wonder if I would have recognized my instincts for what they were, something to be honoured and something that was GOOD for my baby, if I had not read him. I would perhaps have fallen victim to the guilt that my desire to be so attached to baby would ultimately be a detriment. Sure, Sears can't write for every individual mama, but I would bet that he has the majority described pretty well.
After a little bit more reflection on it, I think the content of the Sears book is probably on track, it is the tone that I don't like. And I think really missing is a section in there on what to do if you're alone (maybe single or far from family members or just without an AP support network). How to find that support network -- i.e. that things like LLL meetings happen, etc. The parenting practices in the Sears books all make lots of sense to me (obviously, otherwise I wouldn't come to MDC), but I have struggled with a lack of support network. I wish I had sought out like minded friends before Erin was born, instead of 12 months after.
05-24-2004 11:00 AM
Piglet68 Bleu, I thought that was a fabulous post!!

It's so true, you know? My mother was raised by nannies (ahma's in Hong Kong) while Grandma was a total socialite (don't get me wrong, they went through hell during the war, but afterwards, Grandma was hardly ever there). When my aunt was visiting us last year, she told me stories about my mother getting beaten quite badly when she was only 2 by her mother b/c she had taken a slice of pineapple of her father's birthday cake (which Grandma had made in surprise for him). The more I hear about her upbringing the more I see that, even though she was Spock all the way, she was light years ahead of her own upbringing. And, to be fair to my Grandmother, as the daughter of one of her fathers' concubines, she was way down on the totem pole. Her upbringing was positively medeival.

Really makes me wonder about what you said, Shell....are we "it"? What will our children do to "improve"? It is my goal and hope that they won't feel that way, that they won't go through their adolescence thinking "when I have kids, I'll NEVER do that to them" (as I often did).

I also wanted to say something in defense of Sears, and this again points to what Bleu said. I sincerely doubt that most of us are closely in touch with our instincts due to cultural values and influences, and the way we were raised. That's why I liked Sears so much, because he said "trust your instincts" but then went on to describe what those instincts are likely to be. When Bleu described that need to be with her baby, feeling like she needed a "fix", that is exactly how I felt, too. Our society has drummed it into our heads that if we honour that instinct (which is more likely to be treated as hormonal hysteria) then we will spoil our kids, make them gay, make them name it. Women's bodies are treated as nothing more than potential steamrollers to crush the life out of your cosleeping baby. Nobody speaks of the sheer awe and wonder of the way Nature has made us fab mamas...our whole sleep physiology changes when we cosleep, to ensure a loving and safe bond with our babies. So while I appreciate Shell's mum's comments about Sears saying "follow your instinct" and then "telling you what your instinct is", I also think he NEEDS to do that. I wonder if I would have recognized my instincts for what they were, something to be honoured and something that was GOOD for my baby, if I had not read him. I would perhaps have fallen victim to the guilt that my desire to be so attached to baby would ultimately be a detriment. Sure, Sears can't write for every individual mama, but I would bet that he has the majority described pretty well.
05-24-2004 09:33 AM
Originally Posted by Shell
I imagine that when my mom watches me breastfeed she too will feel sad for that missed opportunity.
my mom watched me bf DS2 one day looking kind of wistful and I said, "What is it?" and she said "I was just thinking I should have done that with you." I said, "Mom, you did the best you could with what you had. You thought your breasts were too small (she had literally no breast tissue), you were alone 300 miles from home, and you couldn't drive. Do you really think you could have made it work? I have YOU." It's what she needed to hear that day. She was a very AP bottle mom, btw. A neighbor told her she needed to prop the bottle and mom said, "I haven't got a thing more important to do than hold this baby."

Back on topic, remember that the first words in Baby and Child Care are "Trust yourself. You know more than you think you know."
05-24-2004 01:54 AM
Shell I absolutely know that my parents did the best they could with the resources they had. While I do not agree with the parenting methods my folks used, they didn't use "those methods" out of spite! Love was certainly a big part of their equation, and I agree -- they did what they did so that we would be well adjusted kids... according to the experts of their time. There was no shortage of love in our house, but it was couched in a faulty definition of disipline and order, and communication was often on a "need to know basis."

And yes... I do feel sad (way beyond wistful) about not being raised in the AP approach, and I imagine that when my mom watches me breastfeed she too will feel sad for that missed opportunity.

So the question is... have we arrived? What I mean is, while my parents prescribed to CIO, etc., they didn't beat or whip me like they might have a generation earlier. So, I'm part of the generation who can be thankful that all my folks did was make me cry it out, sleep in another part of the house and be put on a regimented schedule. But what about our kids? What will they say a generation from now? It is hard to imagine how they will rag on us, when the center of the AP approach is so loving and responsive and child-centered. But who knows... maybe our kids will be sexually dysfunctional (as opponents of co-sleeping might say) and will lambast us for having them actually share our bed. Who knows! They'll find something, I imagine! But maybe not... Hopefully not. That is what we're all hoping for, right? What we are ultimately hoping for is a way of parenting that our kids will look back fondly upon and will want to adopt for themselves.
05-24-2004 12:49 AM
Bleu A number of people have kind of touched on this, but I just wanted to point out how cultural these values are, and how pervasive the parenting beliefs were. I'm not thinking of any one on this particular thread, but I do read other people really seeming to castigate their parents (especially mothers ) harshly for their anti-AP practices. I believe that the vast majority of parents do the best they can with the resources they have at the time. In some cases, that "best" is terribly, terribly inadequate.

People had not begun to seriously question the authority or legitimacy of medical doctors dispensing advice about parenting. New mothers were cowed by the doctors' edicts and snapped to, overwhelmingly -- particularly, I think, certain kinds of mothers, like those who lived in suburbs away from the small towns or ethnic neighborhoods where they grew up and where their families still lived. The isolation was pretty stunning for suburban moms, away social support from people they'd known whose values they shared. So "expertise" was particularly sought. I also think a large number of the grandparent's generation walked into parenting with some substantial baggage from the way they themselves were raised. Dr. Spock might not have been so great but it beat the hell (use of this expression is deliberate) out of the way many of them were raised. Think about it: as AP parents, many of us know we wanted to do something different from the way we were raised, so we sought a text to help us re-imagine how childhood and parenting could BE. Lots of today's grandparents did the same. They wanted to raise their kids better than they were raised and turned to self-proclaimed experts for ideas and validation.

I would agree with the posters who questioned "instinct" -- I've always kind of felt that our real instincts are so cluttered up with messages from 30+ years of socialization that who the hell knows what's instinct and what's, well, "programmed"? I felt really validated when I read more or less that same point recently in The Continuum Concept. And I think that many people come from backgrounds where their first impulse -- their "instinct," arguably -- on hearing a whiny toddler might be to give the kid a smack. So I think questioning "instinct" isn't a bad thing. At least I thought that until my baby was born and I felt this incredible, primal need to be glued to him at all times, felt (okay, still feel) almost physically uncomfortable, like a junkie needing a fix when we're apart too far or too long. Hmmm, obviously I'm still kind of muddled in my thinking about "instinct"!

I wanted to echo and amplify the post from way back in this thread (I think it was this thread, anyway) about grandparents feeling guilty or defensive in the face of AP practices. I agree that dynamic is at work. But I think there's something sadder going on as well: children who were raised with anti-AP practices missed out. But so did their grandparents. There's no do-over. I think many of them feel gypped, and wistful for all the intimacy they could have had with their children while they were small, if only they had felt "permitted" to.

My last point (sorry for this disorganized post -- I'm trying to structure it better to make it more readable, and I'm just nowhere in achieving that, I'm afraid!) is that I don't think most parents who practice CIO, Dr. Spock and the rest of it did it because they, individually, were selfish, insensitive assholes. I think many of them earnestly believed they were doing the right thing and that their child would be damaged of they didn't do what they were doing. And here's my admission: I feel that way in many regards, too, and I did need the validation of Dr. Sears, Katie Allison Granju, Mothering Magazine, et al not just to feel "legitimized" to do AP-ish things, but even to know what they were. I never saw anything AP-ish before I had Bleuet. It never occurred to me to co-sleep, and once I heard of it, I was pretty puzzled about why it would be beneficial. I can put myself in the place of the CIO mom who can't figure out why her baby is crying in the crib easily.

So, I guess I just wrote an apologia of anti-AP parents. Not sure if it belongs in this thread. I now want to read all the books everyone else mentioned!
05-23-2004 10:54 PM
Red Dr Spock rocked! My parents never, ever, even considered co-sleeping. Are you nuts? That would be something pedophiles did! But I remember taking naps with my dad, when I was about 3 or 4.

Dr Sock said, take your babies out ffor walks in the fresh air, love them, snuggle them, listen to your own instincts, and, AND he recanted what he felt was wrong, later on.

This is YOUR baby. DOnt' worry about mom. My parents thought I was whacked, but it was my choice to screw up. Just insist that you're doing what YOU think is best for YOUR baby. Be polite, be grateful for any help, do things your own way.

Absolutely send them the book! Tell tehm you feel that this is the way you'll parent and while it may seem naive (they'll like that) you'd like them to know where you;re coming from.

Do not hold against your parents their mistakes! Do you want your own held against you? We all make horrible decisions from time to time. I hope my kids are forgiving. I've done some dumb stuff. So did my parents. So did their parents. And theirs. I just hope to do a bit better than my parents and hope my kids will be a bit better than me!

You're parents probably don't expect you to parent like they did anyway!
05-23-2004 10:40 PM
Shell A couple of things, since the questions were raised...

My two older brothers (we were all born in the sixties) were bottle (formula) fed, as was I. The difference, however, is that at the time my mom had me, she had decided to give breastfeeding "a try." This was fairly radical back then, because virtually no one was breastfeeding at that time. But unbeknownst to her, the doctors in the hospital gave her medication to "dry her up," and she was unable to breastfeed. There was no discussion about it. It was just done without her knowing. Makes me so sad. I think she was sad, and a bit bewildered too, but not distraught over it because she was still under the influence of popular culture at the time.

Yeah, my parents are great, but we are as different as different can be. Arduinna, you hit the nail on the head -- my folks will be waiting for me to realize that they were right after all. And like other events in my life, they will be waiting a long, long time. They have been this way my whole life. Having a baby is one of the first things that seems to be bringing us together in a long while. They have an extremely narrow view of the world, and have generally not understood most of the choices I have made in my life.

My parents are getting older. My mom is 67 and dad is 77. This is their first grandchild. I am really excited about spending a month with them with our newborn -- because this may be our only chance to spend this kind of time together. I am hoping that this will be a beautiful time for us -- but I will be walking on eggshells much of the time, I am sure. I really want them to enjoy this experience to the max. It will be hard for them to realize that now I am the parent. I can understand that, I guess. It will be interesting...
05-23-2004 08:30 PM
captain optimism My mom said that she got all her breastfeeding information from Dr. Spock, ca. 1965. This is interesting to me--I was at my MIL's and found an early version of his childrearing manual, and he has just stupid bf'ing advice. But my MIL bf'ed too and just ignored what Spock wrote about formula in the earlier book.

Spock isn't the only person who advocated teaching independence, and independence is the big value that grandparents seem to harp on about keeping the child close at night. What I decided to do about this was to emphasize that this way is supposed to create independence in the long term.

Your parents sound great to me, Shell. My dad does that thing of using a humorous anecdote as though it were an instructive text from the holy writ! I figure, they are going to find fault with our parenting, no matter how closely we follow their philosophies. AFter all, these are their grandchildren---and, this is a big expression of our differentiation from them.
05-23-2004 07:15 PM
Arduinna wow, great OP. My dd didn't do the tantrum thing either.

Anyway, my parents were progressive for their time. 1960's and I was BF'd and CD'd. But they didn't do GD which was where I had the battles. I did a combo of " I'm the mom and this is how I'm parenting so deal with it" combined with explinations about how dd is behaving in an age appropriate way regardless if it's like you think she should act.

As far as "overplanning" your parenting before the child arrives. I got that same rhetoric when I was pg with dd from pretty much everyone. Imagine their surprise when I didn't end up learning that "spanking was for the better anyway" and that I'd raise a spoiled child ect. Yes, we each have to find what works best for our kid. But, I've never heard that statement about "overplanning" from someone that didn't think I'd eventually figure out that THEY were right about how to parent afterall.
05-23-2004 07:00 PM
Her main critique was that "every page" of the book said to "trust your instincts" but that every other page of the book told you exactly what your instincts should be.
your mom has just put into words what I have been struggling to come up with for lo these 18 months! My dd is not like the sears kids. She doesn't react the same ways. SOme of the things in their books I notice developed after they had several kids -- in other words older siblings tp hang around and help out. anyhow, i found the sears books to be very, umm, well for lack of a real word: I felt like I wasn't a good mom because I was trusting my instincts and my instincts weren't always what was going on in the book.

But cool that you're initiating this conversation with your parents. I think it is neat that they will be that involved.

Were you formula fed? I was and dh was and i think MIL changed her tune on the baby in the bed issue when she began to realize that most breastfeeding moms end up with baby in bed for some span of time. And i think it helps that we have explictly said for us parenting is about making choices that work for everyone in the present. Baby is likely going to change day by day and as such right now our parenting "tricks" change -- so no baby won't be in bed with us forever.
05-23-2004 01:12 PM
Elana Hi!

I found this thread interesting! My MIL sounds a bit like your mother. They couldn't really understand why I wanted to give birth at a certain hospital, insisted on not giving a bottle/pacifier, used a sling, etc.

The one thing that I stuck to was: this is what's good for me. I think that if my MIL felt that I was judging the way she parented, she would have been pretty defensive and trying to convince me that I was wrong. I took the "this is what I learned and find easiest"... I felt that that helped her open up and accept my way.

It's pretty clear that generations change and Dr. Spock was the "IN thing" to do. Now Dr. Sears is the "IN thing" to do. It's a bit shallow, but it also works.

The only major issue that kept on coming up for a while was what happened when I wasn't around. I had to make the things important to me very clear. and if I felt that they wouldn't stick to my guidelines, I wouldn't be able to leave my girls there very often. Now, my older dd is 4+, and my MIL is a big part of her life, so things did work out. I even hear her, from time to time, boasting to her friends that her granddaughter still nursed at the age of 2.6, and that her DIL had 2 natural births, etc... :LOL

(I just reread my post and realized that I didn't mention DH even once! Wow, I have to think about that one - I know he was in on everything too )
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