Posted March 22, 2010
Once a pregnancy is confirmed, many parents-to-be expect to have an easy entry into what they might think of as the Parenting Club. Lots of their friends already have children and now there should be so much to talk about together!
Sadly, they may be disappointed. Many parents find that instead of one large, supportive Club, as they expected, there are dozens of small, exclusive, narrowly focused "clubs", some with daunting membership requirements.
There is the VBAC Club for parents who advocate vaginal births following a previous cesarean birth. Pamphlets, donations and "efforts to get the word out" dominate these club meetings. WARNING: Should you end up having a 2nd cesarean birth, you can't belong...there is no Club for you, as far as I know.
The No-Circumcision Club is obviously exclusively for parents against circumcision. These meetings are very large and loud these days (there was even a televised debate on Fox News), and members must enter through the north door to avoid meeting up with the much smaller, quieter Pro-Circumcision Club.
The XYZ Best Birthing Class Club meets on a different night from the ABC Best Birthing Class Club. When members meet up accidentally in a baby products store, there is much comparison of advice and philosophy --usually with one of the Clubs looking like the better choice.
The Home Birth Club meets on a different night from the Hospital Birth Club, in order to avoid discussion altogether.
The Breast-Feeding Club is a large, vocal club to which everyone must belong immediately after birth. You are automatically voted in, sometimes without your knowledge or permission. Members are given large flags to carry and ID badges to wear. This Club meets anywhere and everywhere. Many people stay members for a year or more - but for those who do not, there is a "sub-club" called the Bottle Feeding Club. This sort of an underground club and members meet much more quietly and don't keep minutes. No flags. No ID badges.
The Attachment Parenting Club and the Conventional Parenting Club live in vastly different worlds. Many Conventional Parenting Club members aren't aware they are even in a club, nor have they heard of the AP Club (Many AP Club members are working hard to remedy this problem.) The AP Club advocates long-term breastfeeding (up to 3 years), baby-wearing (see how-to videos on utube), family sleeping arrangements and home schooling. The William Sears corporation leads and inspires the AP Club. The AP Club occasionally sprouts radical club branches with thorns that are intended to provoke nasty fights with regular AP Club members. On the other hand, the Conventional Parenting Club members don't hold formal meetings and have no particular guru, to speak of.
Other parenting issues around which new Clubs may be forming as I write, include:
- homemade baby food vs commercially made baby food
- sleep training for babies vs babies will sleep better some day, somehow but shouldn't ever cry.
- babies need sign language vs signing to babies is unnecessary
- early toilet training vs child-led toilet training
To tell the truth, I am disturbed by the divisiveness these issues and others are creating amongst parents. False pride, competitiveness and proselytizing only serve to make the most imortant job in the world - that much harder to do.
I hope YOU will weigh in on whether you perceive this negative dynamic in your own parenting life. What are your thoughts on how we got here? Are there Clubs out there I don't even know about? Is it hard to find like-minded parents to fit with your style of parenting?
NOTE: All pro and con comments will be published providing they do not include profanities, rude comments or verbal threats to any person, philosophy or organization.
Filed under: Interesting Parenting Matters
Posted March 18, 2010
Some parents of very young children wonder why the picture of the "family mealtime" looks so different at their house. It seems the harder they try, the worse the outcome. I've given this a lot of thought lately and I think I know what goes wrong. See if you agree and drop me a comment if you have further thoughts on this.
From the age of about three years on, I think family mealtimes have merrit and are worth pursuing -- on the nights when the stars align. On other nights, without guilt, you simply feed kids when they need to be fed with an eye toward bedtime, not worrying that you are letting anyone down by not sitting down as a family. Generally by the time children are 3,4 and 5 years they are able to understand both the pleasure and the expectations that come when the whole family eats together, when it is convenient.
Children who are not yet three years will be more erratic in their ability to sit still, not interrupt, listen and wait their turn. Children this age often need to go back and forth -coming for a bite then off to pick up a car and back for another bite. When parents are stressed by this I usually try to remind them that this is developmentally appropriate and allowing some flexibility but not commenting or giving the child attention, makes for a calmer time around the table.
Filed under: Feeding and Eating
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