Thursday, January 23, 2014

One Year Parenting Woes

Yesterday marked a year since I've been on this journey called "parenting." I know very little of the game and have really worked my way through accepting that, and knowing that I am a work in progress. Every day of doing it, I learn something new about parenting in general and more importantly, about Max. Today, I read an article about moms being hard on each other and how we are the first ones to guilt another parent about how they do things. The article challenged me to look at the way I treat other parents and how they do their thing in their home. In my parenting, these things are true; I breastfed Max until I no longer could physically because I believed it to be the best thing for him since he was two months early. I also feel that giving your baby formula and nourishing them that way is just as acceptable and just as loving. Max sleeps in his own bed every single night however we have not transitioned him to his own room yet. Again, these decisions had much to do with him being early. I think that co-sleeping is also fine and having your child sleep in their own room right away is fine too. My choice was based on Max being so small and having a much higher chance of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. I wanted to be closer to him to oversee all of his actions while sleeping. Now that he is a year old, we will work on transitioning him to his own bedroom. He now takes naps in his own bedroom.

With eating "real food," I choose to feed my son (at every meal) a serving of protein, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. This is for a couple of reasons. First, I am a type I diabetic and Anthony is a Type 2 diabetic so nutrition is paramount in making sure that Max has great health. It is unlikely he would get my kind by heredity since they have now decided it is more of an autoimmune disorder but Type 2 is more about family history and health habits. We want to prevent this for Max, if we can, by teaching him good nutrition from the very beginning.  We have also chose to not include as much meat into his diet. We both believe that the more meat in your diet, the more unhealthy you seem to be. We have found ways to give Max great nutrition without bombarding every meal with meat. He does eat meat but it is usually chicken, turkey, or fish. Max may have had something with beef once. It is also completely okay if you feed your child ground beef 4 times a week and let them eat french fries. I'm sure you know how to handle their nutrition and you will do your best for your child. No judgment here, it's just how we choose to handle nutrition in our house.

Toys; Anthony and I only buy educational and developmental toys for Max. Granted, he still finds these fun because you push buttons, they sing or make noises, and they are colorful. He does not know the difference. I do not feel (at this age) he gets anything out of violent toys or action figures. It is just a fact, where he is developmentally. Later when he begins to use imaginative play, action figures can prove useful. I basically buy Max things that he can manipulate using motor skills, learn from, or make music with. However, I have no judgment in allowing your one year old to have action figures. I have no judgement in allowing them to have toys that serve no educational purpose. This is all about my role as a therapist and studying child development for years. I just appreciate learning toys and things that help Max make transitions to new developmental goals easily.

Television: We do not have cable in our home. This was a choice we originally made due to finances and feeling like we could better use those funds. Now, it is more about Max being here. We choose to watch movies, television shows on DVD, or not have the TV on at all. We only allow Max to watch things that are rated G for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that I have seen it in my own family that when boys are allowed to watch incredibly violent shows or movies, they act that out very quickly. Boys are naturally more rough and tumble as it is so we are trying to thwart the hitting, kicking, fighting that happens in movies and deal with the more natural way these things begin. Also, language and content of movies and TV at this point are not things that we want to expose our son to. Max watches a few shows like Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, Sesame Street, and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. As far as movies, he usually watches movies that Anthony and I have already seen and view as appropriate for his age.  Another big value for our family is not being a family who accumulates material things. Commercials are very hard on parents because they bombard children with new things and toys every minute not to mention the endless fast food commercials. We feel that Max not being exposed to this all the time will help him to have less of a sense of entitlement to things and be more appreciated of what he does receive. I will also say that my family members do TV exposure much differently than we do and that is their choice and for them to decide what is best for their children.Another big thing in our house is screen time is limited to two hours a day. I think it can be very easy for me to be a lazy parent when the TV is on. It can captivate Max's attention so that I can check out in the computer, Iphone, or my own stuff instead of reading to him and interacting with him. This can severely hurt his social skills and overall well-being. We also do reading time twice a day with Max. I am a book worm and want Max to love books. I started in the womb with that! :)

Faith: In our house, we practice Christianity. We attend church, pray, read our Bibles, and teach values and rules that coincide with our faith. Everything we do in parenting Max, we try to make a biblical connection for him. We care far more that Max wants to obey God than Max wanting to obey us.We would prefer if he obeys us because God asks him to and not because we ask him to. We hope at the same time we are teaching respect for respect's sake but we will take what we can and focus on Jesus. This looks like; praying when we get up in the morning and praying before bed, having house rules that Anthony and I both obey and model in front of Max so that he can see us obeying what God wants for us, and reading the Bible with and in front of Max in order to show him that it's hard to follow a faith that you don't continually practice and discipline yourself towards. In saying that, it is YOUR choice how you raise YOUR baby. If you choose to not attend church anywhere, not focus on any certain faith, etc... that is your decision and you are still welcome in my life having made that decision. I will not push my agenda on your family.

All of these things felt important to address today but there is one more thing. Lately I have been really kind of annoyed by something that happens a lot and is probably coming from a really innocent place but I feel like addressing it will help me not be so annoyed with it. Here is the situation. I am one of those people that really like to speak positive and good things about my family. I constantly talk about how great my husband is not because he is perfect but because he is great. He is a fabulous husband and father and constantly finds ways to make my life happier or easier. He does his job by the vows and goes above and beyond that. He is not only great at being married but is a fantastic human being to everyone he meets. Max is one of the sweetest boys I have ever known. He is mild mannered, affectionate, and very laid back. I am not under any illusion that he will always be quiet or always obey me. I know he is human and I know he is a boy. In saying all of that, it is not your job to tell me who my husband or my kid are. I'll give you a few examples:

Me: Max is so great. He sleeps through the night and takes two naps a day.

Other parent: That won't last. He will stop doing that when he is (enter age) years old and then you will never sleep.

Me: Max is a sweet little guy. He is very mild mannered and generally obeys me and understands NO when I say it.

Other parent: Just wait, you won't have that be true when he's two. He will not stay sweet I guarantee it.

Me: Anthony is so helpful to me and is a great father. I am very lucky

Other married person: Oh you've only been married for a short time. By the time you guys are married ten years he won't help you at all and will speak to you like you are trash.

Okay, so here goes my thoughts. First of all I am sorry you are miserable because that is how I see you. I'm sorry you do not appreciate the immense blessing of even being a parent and I'm sorry that your marriage is that bleak and depressing but don't hang that on my door. I do believe that Max (and Anthony for that matter) will make mistakes and not be perfect but I choose happiness and to focus on the things that bring me joy. My husband will not start treating me like trash because he cares about what God wants for our marriage and he loves me deeply. I also do not treat him like trash and that makes a difference. If he should ever treat me this way, I am in no way going to live that way. We will be in therapy before the second trashy thing comes out of his mouth and he knows it! :) As for Max, yes he is going to go through rebellious and challenging stages perhaps, but it doesn't change that I am parenting him with a bent in mind. I am choosing to teach him kindness, respect, and compassion. If he doesn't always practice that, it's okay because I don't always practice it either. It is part of life to make bad decisions, mistakes, and disobey sometimes. It is called development. It doesn't change that he is my child who I deeply love and what his character is deep down. P.S. YOU DON'T KNOW HIM anymore than I know your children so think before you speak into his future or his character. I don't tell you who your spouse or children are so please give me the same respect.

I think I'm done ranting now so happy parenting and when people do this to you, shrug it off...YOU ARE YOUR CHILD'S PARENT!

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