Despite the furore, no one really cares how you parent
So we’re at war. Mums everywhere, online, on the radio, in the sand pit. Judging each other for the choices we make as parents. Putting each other down to sooth our own insecurities. Driving ourselves to competitive distraction.
If you believe TIME, and the reaction to it, we’re in the trenches and the enemy is other mothers who do things differently.
Only, we’re not… Because behind the controversy whipped up by so-called parenting experts, the media commentators and the shock jocks, ordinary parents are just getting on with the job of parenting.
So what if some mum wants to breastfeed her kid from one boob while he stands on a stool. Hasn’t anyone been watching Game of Thrones?
The cover was designed to divide and sensationalise. TIME presented attachment parenting like it was something radical, outrageous and shocking.
Mothers who fed their babies until they were three rushed to call radio stations to defend their choice as “best for their baby”.
But here’s the thing. No one cares. No one really cares how you choose to bring up your baby. As long your kids are fed, they are safe, they are happy, they behave well in public most of the time and they aren’t covered in poo, people aren’t really judging you.
Your child will still be able to get a job, drive a car and maybe even be a CEO if you let them scream themselves to sleep and watch two hours of television a day. Entrance exams for school don’t ask whether your child was breast or bottle fed. They don’t ask if you sat them on the naughty step or smacked their bottom.
Your kids will love you and bond with you if you love them, care for them and interact with them. They may even love you if you don’t.
I have two children aged four and one. I parent them in completely different ways. One responded better to controlled crying, the other falls asleep faster if you stay with her.
I don’t expect that either of them will turn out horribly because I chose the “wrong” parenting philosophy. Nor do I think that anyone could tell the difference between which method I used for each child. I don’t beat myself up at night about it, I just try to get some sleep and get through the days at home with them with as few petty sibling squabbles over Transformers to referee as possible.
We all have an opinion on parenting. We all feel we can comment because we have had personal experience. We all have parents, are parents or know parents. We think we know the best way. How many times have we heard people say: “I was bottle fed and I turned out OK”.
All children are different. All parents are different. To expect every child to be brought up in the same way is unrealistic at best. Children are not robots. We should expect difference just as we expect diversity in the workforce.
If someone tells me they slept with their baby in their bed until the child was two, that’s just making conversation. It’s not saying: “You’re wrong and I’m right”. It’s sharing their experience.
Just as I have two different ways of parenting in my own house, there are 50 different ways that parents can do one task with children – be it getting them to sleep, feeding them or teaching them how to use a toilet.
So your child took three days to learn how to potty train. Good on you. Maybe your next one will take months. It doesn’t mean every child should be able to do the same.
It doesn’t matter which method you choose to follow when raising your children. It doesn’t matter what anyone else, particularly TIME magazine thinks. It matters that you care enough to find a way that works for you and your child. It matters that you love your child.
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