Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Common sense parenting

Okay - I am going to warn you now that I am stepping up on my soap box, so if you don't want to read it, then DON'T! I am so sick of all the judgment and second guessing going on with parenting. When I was a La Leche League leader, we used to tell new moms, "YOU are the expert on YOUR baby." Well, guess what? Moms and Dads are still the experts on our children even if they're four or six or ten or sixteen. Our instincts are the absolute most important tools we have as parents. I read an article about five worries that parents should drop and five they shouldn't. The article is interesting, but it just ticked me off. I'm also sick of the labels we give parents. There's the "helicopter parent" and the "free range parent." Seriously?! I just want to tell all the "experts" to bite me. I'm coming up with my own term. It's called the "common-sense parent."

Here's the five things parents "shouldn't" worry about according to this article: kidnapping, school snipers, terrorists, dangerous strangers, and drugs. The five things it says we "should" worry about are: car accidents, homicide (committed by someone who knows the child), abuse, suicide, and drowning. First off, yes, you can give people statistics, etc. That's all well and good, but do not tell a person what to or not to worry about. I live in Colorado. There have been no less than three school shootings with many fatalities since we moved here. Do I worry about school shootings? No. I am certainly not going to tell someone who lives down the street from Columbine that their worries are dumb. Many of them LIVED it! Our reality forms our perception. That is true for everyone. Not only that, I completely and absolutely believe that the Columbine school shooting could have been prevented. So, while school shootings may be rare, school violence isn't. Shootings may be the extreme outcome, but I don't think it's crazy to think of ways to prevent it. Not only that, if a parent IS concerned about violence at school, maybe they have a reason for it. We need to LISTEN to our intuition. Just Friday, I had an incident at my children's school. It wasn't with a student but with a parent/grandparent. He completely flipped out at me, and I won't go into it, but it was outrageously bizarre. I struggled all weekend with whether I should mention it to the dean or not. Had I listened to the prevailing "wisdom" of the world, I would have just "let it go." Instead, I listened to my intuition that was telling me that something was just "not right." I talked to the dean and found out that this particular individual has already flipped on at least one other person. They kids have only been in school for less than a month. How many people has this man flipped out on that haven't mentioned it? Now I know to keep an eye on this man. I have warned my children about him, and the school knows that he is building a history of belligerence.

The article says we SHOULD worry about car accidents. Their solution though is to make sure our children are buckled properly, in the proper harnesses, blah, blah, blah. Don't get me wrong - I am adamant about my children wearing seat belts, being in boosters and car seats, etc. However, could the article talk a tiny bit about personal responsibility? The number one thing we can do to keep our children safe in a vehicle has less to do with the way they are restrained and more to do with the way we drive. Maybe they need to be saying to parents that they should grow up, slow their butts down, follow the speed limit and street laws and drive defensively.

Then it tells me that I should not worry about my child being kidnapped and worry about suicide instead. Okay, maybe I am niave, but I would see suicide as an issue for children who are at least in middle school and mostly in high school. Is that really going to be valid for my six year old? When she walks down the street to see her friend, should I worry that she'll have an intense bout of depression on the way, climb a tree, and jump? Or would it be more prudent for me to talk to her about safety, what to do if she were approached, how to listen to her intuition, and maybe stand in front of the house, so I can watch her walk half of the way and then have her call when she gets there? Maybe we could throw a little common sense into parenting. Worrying about things is just wasted energy. Maybe our time would be better spent if we could educate ourselves and our children and take precautions on things - even the ones that have a less likelihood of happening. Maybe we could take some responsibility for the things we can actually have a huge impact on such as car safety. The biggest thing we could do though is to trust our parental instincts and beyond that, we could trust that OTHER parents have instincts as well.

Before my oldest went to school, I was convinced that I would home school her. I hated the idea. It made me sick to my stomach, but I was a "good" attachment parent, and I kept hearing and reading that it was the best thing and what all the "good" attachment parents do. Finally, I wised up and realized that home school was not an option that would work for anyone in our family. It would break us apart. I have other friends who have people telling them how awful they are for home schooling. You know, because people that do not raise the children absolutely must know more about the children than their own parents, right? Yes, that was sarcasm. The same thing goes with vaccinations. I researched the heck out of vaccinations and came to the conclusion that the research supports the validity of selective vaccination, but that it does NOT support early vaccination. So, that's what I do. I selectively vaccinate my children on a delayed schedule. I catch crap from both sides of the fence. I have done my research, and I am secure in the decisions I've made. I may not agree with the decisions other people make, but I support them in making educated decisions for their own families.

Could we just agree that we are all the own experts on our own family and leave each other alone?! Would that be too darn difficult? I guess that wouldn't catch as many readers because really what would we have to read about if we couldn't read about how we are all different and one side is better than the other, right? Nobody can love a child like their own parent. I know there are people in the world who should never have become parents, but for the most part, I like to believe that we are all doing the best we can with the information that we have. How about we all love and accept a little more and judge a little less?

My Louie is 4!!!

My little boy turned four on the 25th. *sniff* He's getting so big. We haven't had his birthday party yet, but we did celebrate and let him open presents. Unfortunately, my stupid camera is not working properly! I've got to get it working before I can get the birthday pictures off it. I did take a few with my camera, and I'll post those. Louis is such an incredibly joyful child. He experiences life to the absolute fullest. We are truly blessed to have that beautiful boy in our family.

This is the gift he got from his buddy Nick.