I just want to share something that came up today. I will preface it by saying, I am not judging other mothers. Wow, Beka, way to make it sounds like you are about to do some hardcore judging! No, really, I think as long as a mom is making what she believes to be the best choices for herself and her children, she is doing a bang-up job!
That being said, the worst, and most dangerous piece of advise a mom can give another mom, especially a new mom is, “I did it and my kids are just fine.”
We hear it all the time and it is meant to be a form of reassurance or encouragement. It is meant to help a new mom have confidence in doing something other than what the experts say.
“I sleep trained, my kids are fine!”
“I co-sleep, my kids are fine!”
“I used formula, my kids are fine!”
“My kids go barefoot all the time and they are fine”
What ever it is, I am not here to tell you that your decisions are wrong. You should know by now that I am all about going against what experts say and what professionals recommend. Just read Of Whiskey and Sleep and it will give you some insight to how I really feel. I am here to tell you that your REASONS are wrong. Just because your child survived or is fine, does that really make it the best choice?
My kid survived sleeping in a rock-n-play, but another child did not.
My kid ate peanut butter at 6 months old and did just fine, but another child had a severe reaction.
My child eats uncut grapes and survives, but another child choked to death.
If my child survived falling down the stairs, should I deem it safe to other moms? “You don’t need a baby gate. He will be ok if he falls down the stairs. My kid did and he is just fine.” Absolutely not! That sounds absurd! But so does justifying anything else with the survival of your child.
If you make decisions for your child that go against what the usual line up of experts advise and recommend, more power to you! Buck that system! But be informed. Know why you are willing to ignore the experts and the professionals. Make the decision because it is what you think is BEST not just because some other child turned out fine.
I allow my child to eat uncut grapes because, since we did baby-led weaning, he has been chewing his food since 6 months old and I would rather watch him like a hawk while eating to make sure he bites into each and every grape rather than cut the grapes in half. But I would never say, “You don’t actually have to cut your kid’s grapes. Mine ate them whole and is just fine.” because I have heard far too many stories that start with uncut grapes and end in tragedy.
Please, if you are going to share your decisions with new moms, back those decision up with more than the survival of your child, even if that reason is only, “It is what I thought was best.” I will respect that decision any day!
I am here to tell you that I bucked the system every chance I got when I was pregnant, when I gave birth, and I still do it today. I like to create the shock and wow factor. I will admit, I like the attention that doing things my own way brings me. But I always try to have reasons behind why I am doing what I am doing.
When I was pregnant, I declined the glucose test because I felt like my body and diet were healthy enough that I did not have to worry about gestational diabetes. I knew that this test was only standardized a few years prior and before that, only mothers who were over a certain age and weight were recommended the test. Based on that, I confidently said no thank you. I would never tell an expecting mother, “You do not have to take that test because I didn’t take that test, and I was just fine.”
When I was laboring in the hospital, I asked to eat because I knew it would help me keep up the strength I needed to get that natural birth done. Thankfully, my attending staff did not hesitate or bat an eye at my request and they brought me an entire boxed lunch, but if they had, I was ready with journals, medical research, and professional studies that showed that eating during labor was not only safe, but recommended! However, I would never say to a mom, “You can eat while in labor because I did, and I was just fine.”
I let my kid run barefoot. I allow him to wander from me while we are outside. I feed him food he has dropped. I let him climb things and put things in his mouth, not because I am sure he will be fine through it all, but because I have decided that that laidback parenting style is the one that works best for us.
Maybe I, or the other mother or child that was just fine was the exception rather than the rule. Maybe that mother that you just convince to co-sleep because your kid survived it becomes the subject of a heart-breaking story. Maybe your child is just fine but hers may not be.
For the sake of all moms everywhere, be informed. Know the whys behind your choices.