I think it's interesting the way mothers judge each other. And in some cases...the judges have become very coy and sneaky about how they get their judgments across.
Take the dilemma of getting your child to sleep on his or her own for example. After Sarah, we really never had a problem doing this. But Sarah was our first and she was a terrible sleeper. She only slept about 6 hours a night even at 9 months old! And I knew she needed more than that, but the child would. not. go. to. bed!!!
Finally, I decided she really needed to have a set bedtime of 8:00 p.m.
Now, I have been the recipient of judgmental comments about my last statement. I have had people tell me that I should have let my child "lead" her own schedule. I also have had someone tell me that it was selfish of me to require a bedtime at 8:00 p.m. (really??? haven't kids been going to bed at 8:00 p.m. forever???)
Then, I could delve into HOW I got Sarah to go to bed at 8:00...and that leads to a whole new rainbow of judgments.
We used a modified version of cry it out, I suppose. But, I tell you, my child never cried more than a minute at first and more than 5 minutes at it's very worst, with our method. We started by praying with her, reading to her and singing to her and hugging her and finally putting her in her crib and leaving the room and shutting the door. Of course...she cried. But only for a minute because we went back in there. And we picked her up, loved on her, held her, said, "Sarah, it's night time...it's time to sleep," and laid her back into her crib, and left the room and shut the door. This was our pattern for the first night until she fell asleep. and it took about 45 minutes. Over the course of a week or so, we lengthened the time between our visits into the room to soothe and love on Sarah and within a week and a half or so, she was sleeping at 8:00 p.m., getting herself to sleep and was quite content.
I have been told that our method is cruel. That we destroyed bonds of trust with our daughter. Stuff like that.
Of course, Sarah is 9 now (almost 10!) and she seems to trust us very much. She's a lively, independent, vibrant little girl.
Now, my third daughter, Helen, slept in the bed with me an awful lot as a baby. The same people who judged my parenting with Sarah thought this was a great idea. Sleep with your baby! She can nurse and be close to her mama. I made them happy now. But I heard the criticism from others...they told me I'd smother her...I might kill her! How irresponsible of me! How does my husband allow that!?!?
Something I've learned in my 10 years of motherhood is that I just need to do whatever works for me and my family. And no...it's not always the same thing that needs to be done with every child. I've been fortunate that many of my parenting practices HAVE worked and been applicable for all of my children. And sometimes one of my kids throws me a curve ball and I have to figure something new out.
I'm not quite sure what it is about us moms that makes us think we have the best way for everyone and people who don't do it the way we do it are bad mothers. And I also am not sure if this is universal or if it is just an American thing. But either way, I know a few "new" moms read my blog and I just wanted to put something out there reassuring them and any future moms that you will find what works best for your family and for your children and you may find that you do things a little bit differently each time around the block.
When it comes to things like getting your child to sleep or reading them stories or teaching them how to dress themselves or potty-training or any of a myriad of things...there are two things I can most likely guarantee you:
- One - you will figure out what works.
- Two - you will be judged rightly or wrongly and that it doesn't matter what you do - SOMEONE will think you're an idiot.
- BONUS: Ultimately you'll learn not to give a rat's behind what anyone says or thinks.