I was just reading the blog post To Pick Me Up, Or Put Me Down on Dolly Mamma. This blog is written by Ester, she has recently become a grandmother and is the mom to 4 grown children. I enjoy reading Ester’s blog knowing that she has traveled the path so many of us are on now, but also reading the adventures she has that I will never have. That’s life
Her post today, discussed how no matter what stage of parenting you are in you are always going back to the same dilemma you had when your child was an infant… do I pick him up and soothe him or put him down (not pick him up) and let him self soothe/ fix it on his own. She asked what our thoughts are on this subject. I started writing this as a reply and it got long and wordy… so instead my reply is a post.
Please go to Dolly Mamma’s site and read her post. It really is written well and will help you see where my thoughts and reflections are bouncing off from…
There are so many situations in parenting that need to be dealt with as a situation and not necessarily as a pattern. Just because I pick up the baby and soothe him once doesn’t mean I need to do it every time and vice versa. I think you need to assess both the needs of the child at that moment with your own emotional needs and then figure it out. Ok… you have 0.002 seconds to make that determination of what is right and what is wrong… go! That’s what it feels like, but often times that isn’t really what it is. I learned early on that I needed to that whole 2-5 seconds or even minutes to really assess the situation. Am I doing this because I feel it is right for my child or because I feel it is right for me. It’s hard to see your child scream, fall, fail, or figuratively crash and burn, but are we helping them if they NEVER do any of these things?
I also think a lot depends on the child. I have parented my two sons totally differently since they were born. We have the same rules and expectations, but how we deal with them is different…. because they are different. their needs are different. I think this in itself has helped me see so clearly that we can’t judge other parents.We can’t judge others choices. Just looking at them as tiny babies. Blake needed more of the cry it out time. If you coddled him he was calm, but that didn’t help him settle for sleep. Unless you let him fall asleep in your arms he would just cry again. When I started letting him “cry it out” it took almost no time for this process to work. He learned to settle himself and within a few days the time it took decreased quickly. I learned that with him I could go in and just rub his back or talk calmly to him and it was enough, he quieted down. I provided him a sleeping routine early on and he still uses it to this day. Then Colby came along and we tried what worked for Blake and this crashed and burned. It took Colby longer to settle. He needed to physical contact to calm himself. You could hold him and then put him down and he would settle, but you couldn’t just put him down. It took longer for this process to work for him. I can remember many nights laying on the floor next to his crib with just my hand inside trying to ween him off my presence in his room. It worked. To this day Colby struggles to settle down to sleep and needs a bit of extra one-on-one time before bed.
Was I better parent for Blake because he can now just lay down and go to sleep? Or was I a mean parent because I made him cry at night? Was I a better parent for Colby because I didn’t let him cry as much? Or was I a worse parent because he still struggles to fall asleep now? Or were my parenting choices both correct because my sons aren’t the same? Who has the right to judge??
I tell my sons I won’t rescue you… if they forget their lunch, their homework, don’t get onto the team, fail a test…. I won’t rescue you, but I will support you. I will guide you. I will help you. But I won’t make life easy for you… life isn’t easy. it just isn’t. my job isn’t to make sure you are happy. My job is to help you become the best adult version of yourself you can be. My job is to guide you in learning to make choices that are best for not just you, but also those around you, in your life and the world we live in. If children do not learn to deal with failure (of any kind), diversity, conflict, animosity, and so many other factions of life as children when are they going to learn? No one is going to be there for you in a boardroom when someone says they don’t like your presentation. When they question the decisions you made for the product you are working on. No one is going to rescue you when you get pulled over by the police. You won’t get a participation trophy for showing up to work and doing what you are expected to do. You won’t keep your job if you do the bare minimum or if you do you won’t advance.
What are we teaching our children when we blame the school for grades? When we blame other children when I own child is the one who did something stupid? What are we teaching our children when we cover up their choices? When we do their homework? When we hand pick their classes and friends? When we complain because they didn’t make the team or get enough playing time?
Who are we trying to soothe… our child or ourselves? Who are we trying to “make look good”?
We need to look and see is this choice of my child’s worth me stepping in or not? And remember that just because I do this time doesn’t mean I have to every time. Am I setting my child up for success or failure as an adult? Lets look at the big picture. Stop judging each other as parents. Stop making life so competitive that we feel that if we don’t fix these things then our child is behind or not as good as the others. Stop making competition where there doesn’t need to be one.
— side note, Richard and I made/make/will continue to make all of our parenting decisions together. I wrote this post from my point of view, but one thing you need to know is he is right there in all the decisions. Richard is now and always will be my sounding board. We work together to help our sons grow into men. I often feel like the parenting choices seem to be one sided, but in this family they are not. Together we made the decisions on how to deal with the boys sleeping habits when they were young. Together we decided when to stop stepping in as much with friendships and school problems. Together we talk to the boys about behavioral issues and overall life changes. While I wrote this post in my voice looking at these choices as how people will judge me, I know that the decisions made were best for our family as a whole at the time because of the conversations had with Richard.