9.07.2013

Our Parenting Style

"Attachment Parenting," "Baby Wise," "Permissive Parenting," "Instinctive Parenting"...there are labels out there for every style of child rearing one could possibly imagine. And, for every decision you make as a parent, there's somebody peering over your shoulder, telling you that they would have done it differently.

"You shouldn't hold him all the time! He's going to come to expect it; you're spoiling him."

Yes, heaven forbid my child expects to be held and nurtured by the very same person who held and nurtured him the first 9 months of his existence. You see, that's what caused him to "expect" it; who am I to break the "habit" that nature began?


People are always like...
..and I'm all...
"Why are you feeding him so often? If he's really that hungry, you're obviously not giving him enough. You should add rice cereal to some pumped breastmilk or something to satisfy him."

I have something to tell you that may blow your mind: How often a breastfed baby nurses is no indication of whether or not he is "getting enough." Babies don't eat three square meals a day - or even six or seven! It's all in the diapers, my friends. If Baby is wetting and/or soiling 6+ diapers a day and gaining/growing happily, then he is eating plenty. Breastfed babies will let you know how much they need on any given day.

"Whaaaat?? He doesn't sleep in his bassinet?"

I cringe whenever I realize I've shared too much information, which is unfortunately very frequently. Too often I give people the benefit of the doubt, especially family, when they inquire after the status of our son. So when people ask me how Little Mouse has been sleeping and I tell them how well he does sleeping on us, I'm repeatedly surprised by the reactions. I know our situation is not "traditional," but people need to realize that babies do not come all neatly packaged with a one-size-fits-all plan for raising them.

Baby Boy, as we discovered early on, has pretty bad reflux. Not to the point that the stomach acid hurts him excessively (at least not anymore), and not to the degree that he needs to be medicated. But if you lay him down on his back - inclined or not - even within a half an hour of feeding, he will almost always make these little gaspy noises and spit up. Sometimes, the spit-up is curdled, which in the beginning made it very hard for him to get it out of his little throat. So, when he almost choked at a few days old struggling to clear his airway and I just made it to the bassinet beside our bed to help him, we decided he was safer sleeping stomach-down on top of us. The next few times he began choking, a few light pats on the back and the occasional finger in the mouth to clear the back of his throat and he was A-OK, though perhaps a little shaken up.

Thankfully, he has grown out of this scary tendency, but he still refuses to sleep on his back and until he can roll over, I'm a little hesitant to put him to sleep on his stomach alone. So Lucas and I are sleeping on the recliner and couch respectively with pillows propping up our arms, taking turns in the night with our miracle of a son sleeping oh-so-soundly on our chests. Judge us all you want, but I believe that he is alive with us today because of our choice to sleep this way.


The bottom line is this: We always meet the needs of our son. When he wants to draw near to us, we do not ever delay in coming to him. In fact, we encourage him to draw near to us.

Sound like someone familiar?


When we were still pregnant and discussing how we were going to raise and nurture our child, we decided that the parenting style that was most intuitive to us was to parent the way that our heavenly Father "parents" us. It has not failed us yet.

When Little Mouse has gas, I pop a pacifier in his mouth to soothe him, lay him on his back, and give him a tummy massage and pump his legs until he is relieved (my sister-in-law Molly fondly refers to this as "farting" him. Sometimes I've "farted" him as many as NINE TIMES in a row! I have a prolifically gassy child.).  Sometimes he fusses and resists at first, but in the end is always happier; he may not have known it at the time, but I was doing what was best for him. 

In the same way, sometimes God puts us through trials for our own betterment. We may fuss and fight it in the moment, but we always come out the other side better for having experienced it. I can't count how many times this has been the case for me, though I'm definitely not proud of that fact. But I have learned more and more to just trust Him and His divine plan! It is my prayer that we impart that same trusting spirit to our son - both in us and in God.

When our son is crying or fussing and wants to be near to us, we do not ignore his need to be close or delay coming to him. We do not believe that we can hold our son too much or be too close to him too often.  

This is the very nature of God! He wants us to draw near to Him - to worship Him - and He longs for us to have a close relationship with Him. (1 John 4:19, James 4:8, Hebrews 13:5, 1 Timothy 2:3-4)

Actions will receive equal and just REactions, and as Little Mouse gets older, we will teach him that all of his actions have consequences - some good, some bad. If he disobeys us in a way that is dangerous to his well-being or outside of the boundaries of proper behavior, he will receive just punishment as a way to learn what is right, proper, and/or safe. If he does something that is praiseworthy, he will be praised and taught that that specific action is right, proper, and/or worthy of laud.

Similarly, our God is a just God. Our actions have consequences. God does not punish us for the sake of punishing us - we choose our own path thanks to our God-given gift of free will. Put simply: If we choose to live our lives apart from God and never (1) realize we are sinners in need of a Savior and (2) accept the free gift of God's grace accomplished by Jesus Christ on the cross, He honors that choice in eternity; however, if we do accept Jesus as our personal Savior and stand on His righteousness alone, He rewards us in eternity. (In other words, The Holy Spirit is a gentleman)

I am daily left breathless at the miracle of my little boy, and am so amazed and grateful that God has given me the great honor of raising our son. I only hope to do the job justice! Will I make mistakes? Of course! But as long as I follow the example set by the Father of fathers, the One True and Living God, I know that we'll be providing Little Mouse with the best possible care he could receive on this Earth!

And so, it is with that in mind that I choose to ignore the opinions (a.k.a. "advice") and judgement of others and cast aside all doubt in our "parenting style!"


Until Little Mouse lets me write again,