Let’s ditch the “one size fits all” model of parenting

Guest post by addyeB
Wrong way

I caught a segment on the TODAY show a few weeks ago that discussed co-sleeping and a recent study that advocates for it. I personally don’t have an issue — I’ve co-slept in some form with both of my sons. With my oldest son, Brennan, our living arrangement necessitated sharing a sleeping space, and with my youngest it simply made breastfeeding easier.

Of course, just because I’ve co-slept with my children it doesn’t mean that I’m a proponent or advocate of sharing a sleeping space with your children — I’m also not an advocate of baby-wearing, breastfeeding, eating au natural or organic, attachment parenting, or… anything else. I’m also not against any of this. Like many, my parenting style is a kind of mash-up of what I find helpful.

For example, I have a Moby Wrap and a fly stroller. I fed my children with bottles and with breast, depending on what my circumstances called for or what my body was able to do. We eat organic if I can find it on sale (sometimes paying $5-6 for milk that disappears as soon as it goes in my fridge is a budget buster), and other times I’m fine with regular brands. I prefer to cook as much as possible, but I also have a lot of days where fast food saves my sanity and worn-out self.

What I do advocate for is the idea that every parent and family is doing what works best for them. I’m a big believer in trying to not judge other families and parents for their choices — and that’s what bothered me about the TODAY show segment. Advocates from both sides (one a doctor and the other a parenting “expert”) agreed with the host that the stigma surrounding the decision to co-sleep in the United States keeps parents “in the closet” about their choice to do so. The doctor said that a parents who make the decision to co-sleep is viewed by some as being “weak parent or not having control over your own kids.”

Here’s my question: why do we attach such ridiculous and harmful stigmas to things that don’t call for it? Why are parents taking “sides” and why do they judge each other on things like sleeping arrangements?

Like life, parenting is not a one-size-fits-all situation. Maybe it’s the idealist in me, but on this front I’m pretty much middle of the road on the stuff that seems to make parents pull out knives on each other. I don’t understand the obsession we seem to have, or at least that the media thrusts upon us, with tar and feathering one another.

My motto is: make sure you’re educated and informed, evaluate your life and circumstances, and then get to the business of doing what works best for you and yours.

Whether you go the traditional route or implement an approach that’s unconventional shouldn’t be what matters — what should matter is whether or not we, as parents, are getting and giving the encouragement, support, and advice that we need to be the best parents to our kids.

What we don’t need to worry about is whether or not a parent is tweeting too much instead of spending her time elbow-deep in Play-doh, bottle vs. breastfeeding, baby-wearing vs. using a stroller, dads who stay at home, or about parents who choose to circumcise their boys.

I get it. We all have opinions, and we’re entitled to having them. But having the right to our own opinions doesn’t always give us the right to voice those opinions — much less judge others because their parenting style doesn’t fit into the boxes we’ve constructed for our own lives and the lives of our children.

So, let’s put away the pitchforks and torches — let’s stop bullying each other and putting one another on trial. Let’s face it: parenting is not for the faint of heart, and kids will often make you want to lose your sanity. Wouldn’t it feel better to know that instead of making the currents we find ourselves in rockier, we had a community of supportive parents in our boat, picking up an oar, and helping us row?

I know it would feel a lot better to me. I couldn’t care less whether you’re breastfeeding your baby, letting him cry it out, or feeding her just-pulled-out of the ground carrots — I just need you to help me keep afloat.

Comments on Let’s ditch the “one size fits all” model of parenting

  1. Yes yes and yes. I have been a mom for a mere five days and have already dealt with this somewhat. We’re having latching issues, and while in the hospital we got advice from every nurse and two of the lactation consultants–all DIFFERENT advice. We decided to go to a specialist yesterday who helped us with many questions…only to see our pediatrician who inadvertently disagreed with our plan of action. I’m super weepy these days and my eyes welled up when she started in on that, so she immediately backtracked and acknowledged that what works, works. Big sigh of relief…as she put it, we have a healthy baby girl and that means we are being successful parents. Felt good to hear that 🙂

    • Hang in there! I had the same experience with advice from the professionals. It is frustrating, but in hindsight I can see that it just goes to show how many ways there are that have worked for different people. It might take a long while (about a month and a half for my little guy and me) but ultimately you know best what your body, your baby, and your sanity need to thrive. Good luck HollyG!

  2. AMEN to that! It’s so sad that it appears where parents once supported and advised one another, people seem often to prefer to have a go at other parents for their decisions. People sometimes even throw around child protection terms like ‘abuse’ and ‘neglect’ when they actually mean ‘doing things differently from how I do them’.

    The culture of fear and of needing ‘expert advice’ to so much as pick up a baby has led people to forget that kids are resilient. They’re not going to be ‘scarred for life’ by having fast food sometimes/being vegetarian, being left to cry/being attended to on demand, co-sleeping/sleeping in a separate room. Kids have thrived for centuries without ‘professional advice’, because people trusted and advised one another.

  3. I love this blog so much and this is exactly why. Thank you so much for providing a place to learn and grow without giving myself a complex. I swear, sometimes it’s the last island of saneness in all of the internet.

  4. I really liked this article too. I have not given birth yet but people love to give me unsolicited advice already. As an example, I want to use cloth diapers. I have my reasons and I know they are not for everyone and that is OK. It is a personal choose that my husband and I made. Yet there were a few people who just could not accept that we were trying this method and tried to talk us out of it. What’s crazy is they never tried doing it themselves so they have no basis of comparison. The way I see it is there are billions of ways to raise a child, unless you have tried them all you can’t judge other people for doing something different from you. Pretty much everyone is trying to do their very best for their family. No one is choosing to do something because they think it is bad for their children.

  5. This is perfect! The world would turn smoother if we all kept our noses out of everyones business and just lived life the way intend to do.

Read more comments

Comments are closed.