If you’ve followed us on Instagram, you will have noticed over the past several days that we are in the process of transitioning Iva into her own makeshift nursery (our big walk-in-closet, really) and beginning the Taking Cara Babies sleep training program. I don’t think any mom who has informed herself of her options and made the choice she thinks is best should be required to defend herself to anyone, so that isn’t why I’m writing this particular blog post.
However, I’d like to admit that I have fluctuated in the past between some unhealthy extremes when it comes to parenting philosophies. Before I had Iva, I was staunchly on board the sleep-training . . . train? . . . and I wasn’t planning to continue breastfeeding if it didn’t go well in the early days (believe me, it did not). I’m not sure what happened, but from the time we brought our baby home, I found I changed my mind and diverged from many of my plans.
Honestly, I have never been 100% loyal to any one side in parenting matters. I’m finding there are faults on both ends of the spectrum. Many conventional approaches that are popular in Western culture are often harmful and dehumanizing to babies/children (and research supports this), yet at the same time, there is an extent to which the natural, baby-led parenting philosophies can become oppressive and stifling as well. Instead, what we need to be convincing new parents of is that they are allowed to do their own research and make choices based on what they know of their own children. And we also need to tell them that children go through so many stages and phases that it makes it unrealistic to draw hard lines and make concrete plans that are meant to encompass all of those periods of time. My baby has not stayed the same over the past 8 months, and the way I mothered her then does not have to be the way I mother her now. She needs and wants different things as an 8 month old than as a newborn, and I’m sure things will have changed again another 8 months from now.
My point is: One of the most encouraging and empowering things we can tell new parents is that they are allowed to do what works for now and then change their minds later. They can do what is best in the moment and decide that something else is more beneficial at a different age or stage. We need to stop demanding that mothers and fathers (of any degree of experience) draw wide, uncompromising lines in the sand when it comes to what “side” they are on or whose advice they have to trust. They can bed-share or sleep train (or breastfeed or bottle-feed, etc.) as long as that’s what works; and if it doesn’t work anymore, they can change direction without guilt or explanation.
None of us are perfect at this parenting thing. None of us have it all figured out. But kids are resilient and flexible, and we should not only take comfort in that fact, but also learn something from them as well.