Archive | September, 2013

You’re Doing It Wrong, according to one person. They know the right way. They read it on the internet.

27 Sep

I try not to type anything online that I wouldn’t be prepared to say out loud in a public place. I don’t have what I’d call extreme views (I’m a wooly liberal according to my husband) and I think I’m pretty open minded and easygoing.

But as regular readers will know, some things really piss me off. One of those things is parents, usually mothers, who want to tell you you’re doing it wrong. They don’t just take you quietly aside and offer gentle advice. Oh no. They look at you with a mix of pity and barely concealed contempt and then they drop the Passive Aggressive Bullshit Bomb.

“Oh well, if you’re not breastfeeding then he won’t have immunity to all the diseases!”
“You may as well smear him in ecoli and rub him up against lepers!”

Or “Co-sleeping is so natural and such a bonding experience!”
“Wait. You make your baby sleep in a cage?”
That’s a cot to normal people.

I have personally witnessed a hundred Passive Aggressive Bullshit Bombs being dropped on me, my mates and total strangers. It makes me angry.

I personally don’t give a toss how other people raise their kids as long as they’re not hurting anyone. What I do take issue with is the bullshit some mothers can’t help twatting on about, presenting crap they read on the internet as the new parenting gospel. From a professional viewpoint, it drives me nuts to hear opinion presented as fact and I personally look for evidence, credible research and longitudinal studies before I believe the latest parenting fad will produce the perfect child/solve all societies problems etc.

There are several ‘new’ practices and theories out there that of course have merit. Baby Led Weaning is one of them. I’ve blogged about this before and my opinions still stand. If you have a hungry and enthusiastic baby then it’s brilliant. It’s fun, messy, interactive and a great learning experience. If (like me) you had a baby who doesn’t give a toss about food or eating then it’s just not suitable.

My main issue is the way new techniques are presented to parents. Not so much as an alternative to existing methods, but a much needed overhaul of outdated or harmful practices. A review of the BLW book in The Guardian asks “Would you want to be strapped into a high chair and force-fed spoon after spoon of bland vegetables?” So, do BLWs not strap their children into a high chair? Safety first! (I’m being facetious, can you tell?). And spoon feeding is now force-feeding? If a baby does not want to be spoon fed there’s little you can do about it, in my experience. It’s like trying to get a spoonful of fusilli into a Tasmanian devil while riding a Waltzer.

That Guardian review is a prime example of Passive Aggressive bullshit. Emotive language designed to make you feel like YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG. Wasn’t everyone was spoon fed before BLW. I was spoon fed and I’m guessing you were too. We are ok. Aren’t we? Will BLW really change anything? I doubt it.

My toddler doesn’t eat a lot now, but she’s good with a spoon and fork and is adventurous with new foods. I know several BLW babies (& some spoon fed babies) who will only eat biscuits or toast. At the end of the day, does it really make such a difference? I know foody parents with very fussy eaters. It just happens.

I’m in no way against new techniques and developments, but I’d rather they were presented as a choice, rather than either the answer to all your problems or DO IT THIS WAY OR YOU’RE DAMAGING YOUR CHILD FOR LIFE YOU SELFISH BITCH!! That kind of marketing is based on fear, guilt and worry. Thanks. Really.

It’s the same with breastfeeding and the much touted immunity. I’m not saying for a nanosecond that it’s not beneficial for immunity, of course it is, but I know of several exclusively breastfed babies who get every bug and cold going. So much of it is down to genetics and luck.

Individual Differences, as psychologists call it, are responsible for a great deal. Baby Led Weaning, breastfeeding, co sleeping, diet; all controversial parenting issues for which you will judge and be judged. Yes, all these things have an impact on kids development but I think they only play a minor role in determining what kind of person your child will become. I honestly don’t think most of these things actually make that much difference in the long run. It’s how you talk to and interact with your child that makes a difference. Showing them kindness, setting a good example, having fun, building a relationship, giving them your attention. That’s what’s important, not how they get spag bol into their gob, or where they sleep.

I recently got into a bit of a heated debate online with an Attachment Parenting woman, who told me that sleep training was “cruel”. Yes, well making my infant daughter sleep on a bed of nails was a challenge, as we’re the vipers, tazers and pointy sticks, but, perseverance is they key to success!! Seriously, this woman leapt into a thread where I’d recommended a book No-Cry Sleep Solution and without hesitation, told me “You’re doing it wrong”. Not just that but also that I was causing my child distress and harm.
Fuck. Off.

If you want to sleep with your kids in your bed, then go for it. Personally I don’t. I like my bed to be free from wriggly, eye-gouging, kicking, singing toddlers. I like the fact my husband and I have our own space. But I’d never tell those co sleepers that they’re doing it wrong. Even if I thought it I’d keep it to myself (or talk to close friends about it. Offine).

The Attachment Parenting site I have since looked at (solely for research purposes, mind) reinforces my idea that you should just use common sense, do what you think is right and hope for the best. I don’t think AP has the ability to end all society’s violence (yes, they actually claim this). I do think that kind, gentle and fun parenting vastly increases the likelihood of creating a kind, gentle and fun child/teen/adult.

Everyone has their opinions. Some can be scathing, mine included, but I’m mindful of where I voice them. I might not agree with you, I might even think you’re a raving lunatic, but I won’t have the arrogance to tell you you’re wrong. You might be right.

Then we’d all be fucked.