For a long time, I have been telling parents and prospective parents that if they throw away their books and ignore all advice and just raise their children by trusting their intuition and listening to the real messages and signals from their offspring - in other words, if they "wing it" - they will end up doing a better job than most anxious, by-the-latest-book parents. I also have been a strong advocate for having children (preferably just one, thank you) later in life rather than earlier, because parents who have lived a while as adults are generally more grounded and actually have accumulated some wisdom to pass on. Lori became a mother 40 for the first time and offers below her take and experiences. They're not all pc, but I can tell you, her baby is looking pretty healthy, trusting, peaceful and curious about life, just the way a baby should.
"Do people really adhere to parenting "styles"? There are tons of books, theories, classes, and of course, complete strangers ready to convince you of the absolute certain "success" of their parenting "style". Do people live their lives according to a certain "style" for success? So, what's your style? And who is so bold as to assume that he or she knows what determines success anyway?
"I became a parent for the first time at 40. I don't have a script, a plan, a "style". I am, however, a reader, a researcher. I am well educated. I know the plethora of information about pregnancy and parenting. Yes, I colored my hair, but I used vegetable dyes. I ate hotdogs, but only one at a time.
"But, I also know this-childbirth and parenting are unpredictable. Sure, I took the childbirth class, had the birth "plan", the soothing music, snacks, water bottles, favorite pillow, disposable socks. And after hours of pain that FAR, FAR exceeded the "discomfort" described in childbirth class or my sister in law's description of "like bad period cramps", I had an emergency c-section.
"I took the breastfeeding class, bought the books, bought the gear, was preparing my nipples (?). After two straight months of struggle, I finally stopped nursing. It was a wrenching decision, but three lactation consultants later, football hold, cradle hold, cross-cradle hold, c-grip nipple hold, lip tickling, lanolin, heat packs and ice packs, I let it go. My baby was two months old and I was already banned from numerous parenting styles.
"Although these experiences were not what I hoped for, I didn't agonize the outcomes. I was saddened but able to move on without missing out on the open doors. I have been criticized in the past for my unwillingness to "plan". But if I had stuck to nursing, with the way it was going, I would have missed out on all the tender middle of the night moments because they would have been replaced by nipple wound care.
"I parent. That's my style. I love, care, guide, laugh, and watch. I am not caught up in an "approach". I once had a script for my life. In my twenties. I envisioned marriage at 25, house, kids at 28. I got married at 26, no house, divorced at 30, remarried at 39. If someone asks if I'm using Feber's or Sears' method, I'll just nod. That same nod I get when someone asks if I'm breastfeeding."