28 May 2011

We Are the Borg. You Will Be Assimilated.

When I think of the debates in the parenting world regarding schedules and parenting styles and such, I find myself thinking about whether we're treating the child as the individual he is if we're imposing those schedules or styles on them from the start.

The extreme end of this would be the Babywise-type regimen that recommends imposing a fairly strict schedule for the child's feeding, napping, and playing times.  The question is, is the imposition of such a schedule and style done for the child's benefit or the parents'?  After all, it would seem that deciding on a schedule/style beforehand would not be taking into account the child's unique personality, which is present at birth (at least to some extent).

It just seems to me that scheduling things is more about me than my child, since my children can't tell time.  They know what they need when they need it, and we settle into a groove soon enough when I'm attuned to that.   Anyone who knows me knows that I'm very much an attachment parent, but I didn't read up on Attachment Parenting and choose to do it - I followed my instincts and the cues of my children.   This has taken different forms with Kieran and Charlotte, even from birth.  This really threw me off when Charlotte was born, as I'd anticipated doing things the same way with her, but she's a different person and therefore I had to change the way I did things.  For example, when Kieran was a newborn he'd sleep anytime anywhere provided he was touching me; Charlotte, however, demanded to be in bed nursing around 20.00 every night.  I couldn't nurse her while standing or sitting, but had to be in bed.  So I adapted, as that's what my instincts told me and that's what she needed.  Similarly, Kieran would accept milk any time he got hurt or was upset, while Charlotte won't comfort nurse and so I have to find other ways of comforting her, such as singing.

Speaking of instincts, it also seems to me that imposing a schedule tells mothers to ignore their instincts.  I know that any time I try to impose a schedule on Kieran's nursing, even now, it just feels wrong and we both get upset.  He still needs that comfort and nutrition, and while I'd honestly like for him to cut down on his feeds, I'm not sure he's ready.  That's not to say I don't set some limits, because I do, but I don't think he's quite ready for me to say that he gets it only at certain times of the day.  He's never been one to adhere to a strict schedule (at least  not when it comes to nursing) and I don't think he's going to start now.  While maybe it would be more convenient for me if he did, I don't choose my parenting style or schedule due to convenience for me, but by what's best for my children (to the best of my ability).

So I'll do my best to remember that my children are individuals and that their individuality should remain intact instead of being assimilated into the collective. ;-)

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