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April 7, 2010 in Breastfeeding, Co-sleeping, Facebook, Family Life, Parenting | Tags: Attachment Parenting, Bed-sharing, Co-sleeping, Extended Breastfeeding, Family Bed; Breastfeeding | by Amanda | 29 comments
Don’t get me wrong. I love Facebook. But every once in a while, I am reminded that it can be a pain in the ass – kind of like the feeling of 10 feet up my ass, to tell you the truth.
Recently my Facebook status read, “The nice thing about Facebook is that old friends from 25 years ago can find you. The bad thing about Facebook is that old friends from 25 years ago can find you. Good thing they can be gone as quickly as they came.”
Here’s why: a couple of weeks ago I was the target of a Facebook attack. It’s not the first time this has happened. Both times it was as a result of a link I’d posted. Most recently, it was a link to an article written by Dr. James McKenna on the Mother-Baby Behavioural Sleep Laboratory website about the long-term effects of bed-sharing.
Well, one of my newly added Facebook “friends” took issue with this link and a bit of a back-and-forth ensued. This woman is someone I knew for a few years about 25 years ago. It is someone I never thought I’d hear from again, but alas, she popped up as a friend request a few days before this incident. Needless to say, we are no longer Facebook friends.
I had to restrain myself. I mean really restrain myself from posting the entire exchange here. It was actually really funny. She spewed these long, ranting, stream-of-consciousness comments all with a clear message: co-sleeping bad. I responded a couple of times – trying really hard to do so in a respectful way, without name calling or attacking – but I soon realized that it was pointless. She had her view and she was not willing to have any sort of intelligent debate about it. So I just stopped. I told her she was insane and I asked her not to contact me again.
I wish she could have seen all the comments before I defriended her. There were more than 50 comments in all; my real friends spoke up in support. There were also endless jokes about sex, poutine, cupcakes and me going to bed with feet up my ass. If nothing else, I should thank this old “friend” for the entertainment value we all got out of it.
Instead of posting the whole ridiculous back and forth, I’ve chosen just a few gems to share with you here:
(As a side note, I was trying to find the rules around using the term sic when there are multiple errors and I couldn’t find any. Everything I read said that you should use the term after each error. If I had done that I would have used the word so many times it would have been ridiculous. I’ll just take this opportunity to say that these are direct quotes from my “friend”, all the spelling errors and grammar atrocities are hers.)
“How old are the children? How’s your sex life?”
“Maybe you should take a look at what needs of yours your tring to fill…How do you feel about nursing babies past the age of 2?”
“When do you draw the line..Imagine your 12 yr still wanting to sleep with mommy and daddy because that’s all they know..Trust me Independence is the key!”
“Numerous health conditions, in regards to anyone in life, under many circumstances, shows that people who don’t get a proper sleep can become sleep deprived which can cause heath issue’s”
“Breast is best..But again I’ve seen many woman breast feed at 3 and on..who’s needs are those..Most of society weans their babies as far as 2, and that is perfectly acceptable.(by the way children are certainly already bonded with you!).Mothers who nurse past this age have the excuse oh the breast milk is the best thing for children..Absolutely.. I agree with that…SO PUMP IT OUT!”
“Are your kids allowed to get dirty at the park?”
“What happens when your kids hit teenage years and you yell at them..which will happen guaranteed, are your children going to call the cops on you for yelling..You see parents in this day and age have all the power taken away from them.”
“I’m sure your kids are going to turn out just like you..Scary!If I am such in the wrong about the topic, why is there so much literature out there opposing co-sleeping…Boy have you got a lot to learn…”
“why am I insane because i don’t agree! that does not make me insane, in fact you look like the crazy one, you can’t handle a little constructive criticism”
“Your the insane one to allow 10 feet up your ass, every-night”
“I didn’t have 2 be like this if your hormones weren’t so out of control”
Um, hello. UNFRIEND.
Y’all know my motto, right? Living the family life that comes naturally to me. I know it doesn’t work for everyone. I know that not everyone would make the same choices. I am doing what I’m doing because I think it’s best for my family. I would never, ever say that co-sleeping is for everyone, because it just isn’t. I believe, in theory, that babies belong with their parents. I believe, wholeheartedly and without any doubt, that my babies belong with me. But I can also accept that there are many people who don’t co-sleep for good reasons; I’m cool with that.
I also think there are all kinds of variations of co-sleeping: side car, crib in the same room, co-sleeping with siblings, etc. There are also people who co-sleep when there is a special need. Here’s what one of my real friends, Rhondda, had to say:
“I also like his [Dr. McKenna’s] air quotes around “never” co-slept. Many children who did not regularly bed-share with parents (or whatever words you want to use) still have had experiences of sharing sleep or bed with a parent – during illness, coming into parent’s bed after a bad dream, parent falling asleep putting child to bed, etc. My own parents definitely didn’t consciously choose to co-sleep (that would have been interesting – there were 6 kids), but I have many lovely comforting memories of being in my parent’s bed with them.”
People do what works for them. The most important point, I think, is that we continue to meet the needs of our children 24 hours a day.
So, I couldn’t really care less what this “friend” does with her children. The thing that bugged me is that she was someone from my very distant past, who popped up out of nowhere and tried to tell me that what I’m doing is wrong, or somehow harmful. No thanks.
There are some people who devote a lot of time debating different parenting issues. People get all bent out of shape and offended. Others are passionate about spreading the word about co-sleeping, breastfeeding and other hot-button issues. I have nothing but respect for these people. Me? No thanks. I mostly stay out of it. But know this peeps: Disagree with me? Sure. Respectfully tell me what you do and why it works for you? Okay. BUT, if you’re going to tell me that what I’m doing is wrong, or that I shouldn’t be doing something that has absolutely nothing to do with you, I’ll probably just tell you to fuck off. Then I’ll unfriend you. Then I’ll happily go off to sleep with 10 feet up my ass.
October 22, 2009 in Babywearing, Breastfeeding, Co-sleeping, Family Life, Positive Discipline | Tags: Attachment Parenting, Babywearing, Breastfeeding, Co-sleeping, Positive Discipline | by Amanda | 5 comments
When it comes to parenting, there are the things that come naturally. Then, there are a few things that don’t. One thing I find particularly tricky sometimes and positive discipline. It’s not that I think that positive discipline doesn’t come naturally, I think it does. It’s logical and feels like the right thing to do; I guess it just doesn’t always come easily.
Breastfeeding, babywearing and co-sleeping, these things come easily. Oh I know, they each come with their own challenges but what I mean is that they never make me feel at odds with my emotions. Discipline, on the other hand, becomes hard when my own emotions are out of control: when I’m angry, when I’m frustrated or when I’m just at my wit’s end. It’s hard to think straight with a hysterical kid (or two, or four!)
I think about discipline all the time because I find it’s one of those things that sounds great in theory, but can be difficult to put into practice: discipline, positive discipline, consequences vs. punishment, using my power (as a parent; as a larger person) to make my kids do what I want vs. teaching them the right thing to do.
Here are my thoughts on positive discipline with a disclaimer: this is what I do in ideal situations; this is what I think about when all the kids are sleeping:
I don’t spank.
For the longest time I’d hear AP types say that time outs aren’t great; that ‘time ins’ are better. I’d always think “what the hell is a time in!” or I’d think “well, they can use time ins for their kids but I don’t want unruly kids!” Of course I realize now these statements are silly. I think a lot of people confuse positive discipline with NO discipline. I didn’t relay get it (why time outs might not be so great) until I read Barbara Coloroso’s Kids are Worth it. And then I totally got it – it was like a light bulb going off. Then the challenge became: now what do I do?
I use time-outs when I need a time out (when I’ve lost my temper and am so mad that I don’t know what to do; or when I just need to cool off) or when I need to restore calm when everyone is screaming/crying: you go sit on that chair, you go to your room, you go sit on the stairs; then I can talk to each one without another kid interrupting. I’m not really crazy about time outs – honestly I’m not, but I find most parenting books that are against time outs don’t really have any ideas; or at least not ideas that I like or that work for me. So I use them as a last resort. I don’t think time-outs are the worst thing in the world, for sure; and I certainly wouldn’t say that they are necessarily damaging, I just think that they don’t really make all that much sense, they don’t really work, and there are better ways.
A note about time outs as a punishment for temper tantrums: it has been my experience that when my kids are hysterical a time out is the worst thing I can do for them. They are not able to ‘think about what they’ve done’, all they know is that they are having a time out and they will do or say anything to get out of it – and what does this accomplish? It accomplishes nothing as far as I’m concerned.
Son-S (he’s three) in particular used to have (and still has sometimes) crazy temper tantrums and I found the best way to deal with them hands-down is to pick him up, give him a hug, console him and help him calm down. There is no way I could talk to him, reason with him or otherwise teach him anything when his is hysterical. I truly believe that when kids are having tantrums it is an awful feeling for them. They don’t want to have a tantrum. They aren’t manipulating their parents. They honestly and truly lack the skills to deal with their emotions and what they need most is our help. I really think that they can’t help themselves.
When I’m having a hard time with one of the kids, I try not to make threats that are strictly punitive. So I don’t say “Either put your shoes on or I’ll take away your favourite toy.” A favourite toy has nothing to do with putting shoes on. I will say something like “If you don’t put your shoes on, we can’t go to the park” because these two are directly related and we literally cannot go to the park if kids aren’t wearing shoes.
I hate threats and I don’t ever threaten any punishment that will affect the other kids “Do XXXX or we’re going home right now!” or “We’re not going to come to Grandma’s house anymore if you can’t behave” Of course we’re going to come to Grandma’s house again – this kind of punishment drives me crazy! Besides, these types of punishments would punish me and the other kids too. The only time I make exceptions is when safety becomes an issue: “if you keep running into the parking lot we’re not going to be able to come to this park anymore because it’s not safe.”
I also don’t believe in taking toys/TV/games away as a punishment. I honestly don’t believe this works. When a kid is sad because they’ve lost their favourite toy, hours or even days after the initial punishment, I don’t think they really make the connection between it and whatever they did to be punished, know what I mean? They don’t stop and think in the heat of the moment “oh, I’d better not hit my brother because last time I lost TV for 2 days and I felt really sad about it” No WAY are they thinking that! And even if they were, this kind of punishment is teaching them “oh I’d better not hit my brother because I will lose my TV privileges” instead of “I shouldn’t hit my brother because it is wrong and it hurts him.” Again the only exception is if, for example, someone is using a hockey stick to hit another kid. I would take the hockey stick away if they continued to hit but in my mind this is a consequence, not a punishment.
Another example (this happened recently) is this: Son-S spilled dry cereal all over the floor and was stepping on it with his bare feet making a huge mess. I kept my cool and just told him that he had to clean it up. As far as I’m concerned there is no point in yelling at him, or sending him to his room; he is dealing with the direct consequences of his actions: he is cleaning up the mess he has made.
I try (and sometimes this is really hard) to give the kids leeway when I can. They want to wear socks and shoes on the hottest day of the summer (instead of sandals), well, who cares? They want to grow their hair, get a mohawk, wear their clothes inside out, whatever – I really like to let them have little victories sometimes. So when they ask me something and my immediate response is “no”, I have to stop and think about why I am saying no. If I can’t really think of a good reason to say no, then I say yes.
I try to talk to the kids about why. Why shouldn’t they hit their brothers/sister, why can’t they eat candy all day, why can’t they watch TV all day, why don’t I like talking back/sauciness (and how people think differently of me and them when they hear them talking like this). I find this is often the best way of getting through to them – much more effective than some arbitrary punishment!
I guess I just don’t think that anything punitive really makes much sense. I think this way of thinking comes from a time when kids “speak when spoken to” and do what they’re told “because I said so”. These things are about control and fear. I want my kids to learn not be controlled.
These are things that I am constantly working on. Mr. Family Nature and I regularly talk about discipline and strategies to help us control our anger. One tip we learned was to take the blame out of the situation. If you remove blame (blaming the kids, blaming the parents, whatever) then you’re left with a teaching situation, rather than a situation in which you are trying to control behaviour or impose power.
Another tip that I try to remember (even in the heat of the moment) is that if we can take anger out of a situation … wait, that’s not quite right. It’s okay to be angry but it’s also important to recognize that you are angry and make a conscious effort NOT to make any decisions based on anger. I think spanking is done out of anger, a parent’s own anger. Does is actually prevent or correct behaviour? No, I think it’s been proven again and again that it doesn’t work.
I think about this a lot. I wish I could practice what I preach every time – I don’t always. There are many, many times at the end of the day, when I reflect on what an utter failure I’ve been that day because almost all of my discipline ideals went out the window. This is all good theory but it’s not always easy to put into practice. So these are my discipline ideals and what I’m always working toward. I do yell, I do get angry, I do use time-outs sometimes but I’m always thinking and striving to be better.
August 19, 2009 in Breastfeeding, C-Section, Co-sleeping, Facebook, Family Life, Parenting | Tags: Attachment Parenting, Blogging, Breastfeeding, C-Sections, Cesarean Awareness, Co-sleeping, Hate Mail, Nursing in Public, Parenting | by Amanda | 12 comments
It was bound to happen: I received my very first piece of hate mail. Yes siree, delivered via Facebook from a ‘friend’. A rambling message with horrible grammar to boot (which just made it that much more unpleasant to read), spewing insults and untruths – all directed at my blog and me. I can’t say that I wasn’t offended. I tried not to be, but I was.
It all started when I Re-Tweeted three of @babyREADY’s blog posts. Sam from babyREADY did a three part series commenting on a three part series in The Ottawa Citizen about c-sections: Why there are so many, how c-sections interfere with mother-baby bonding, and changing the c-section trend. babyREADY commented on the three articles here, here and here. Anyone who knows me or reads my blog regularly knows that this a topic close to my heart.
Anyway, what started as comments on my Facebook status, which were bad enough, continued with a personal message to my Facebook inbox. To sum it up she wrote that women who’ve had c-sections should “just get on with their lives and let it go” and that I have “no right to complain” about how my kids were born because they “are all around [me]“; the implication being that if my children are alive that I just better shut-up and be happy about it. She went on to write that I have a “real victim mentality,” that I somehow attack women who’ve had unnecessary c-sections, and that my blog “screams” that the world is out to get women who don’t “NIP [nurse in public], co-sleep, so on and so forth.”
She wrapped it up oh so nicely by writing that people like babyREADY and me, who write about these issues are “hysteria-mongers who succeed in making people feel guilty about their own choices/experiences.” Then she called me “self-righteous and indignant.”
But on the bright side, she believes that I “mean well.” Oh gee. Thanks.
I was telling a couple of friends about it and one said, “I guess that comes with being a celebrity blogger. People think they know you.” Well, I don’t know if I’ve quite reached celebrity blogger status yet…but at least I know people are reading.
I have an old friend that I’ve known since I was six. B lived next door to me and I’ve known her so long that I don’t remember my life before her. When we were kids, B, my sister and I spent all of our free time together. We’d have sleepovers and freeze each others’ bras. We’d stay up all night listening the radio, playing Canasta and Sergeant Major (or 9-5-2 which is apparently called 8-5-3 in Britain…who knew?) We’d do each others’ make-up and talk about our latest boy crushes and just generally do other silly things that young girlfriends do.
One thing we’d talk about all the time is getting married – all three of us on the same day; a triple wedding, of course. Then we’d all get pregnant at the same time; we’d talk about names and how many kids we were going to have.
There was a house not far from where we lived. We used to walk by it all the time. It was a beautiful old Victorian and it was huge. We loved that house and we swore that we’d all live in it one day – yup, all of us, with all of our husbands and all of our kids.
That big, old, beautiful house was torn down along with a couple of others beside it. In the same space they squeezed in a ridiculous number of ugly townhouses; we all thought it was sad.
We all grew up and we all have partners and kids. Needless to say, we all live in separate houses.
I was talking to B and another friend a little while ago and we were reminiscing about our idea of living together in that big old house. And then we got to thinking…wouldn’t it be great if we all lived together? We could sell our houses, pool our resources and buy a house big enough for all of our families. Nobody would ever pay for childcare again. We’d share chores; each of us contributing in different way; all living together as one big happy family.
It would be wonderful for the kids. They would benefit immensely from other attachment parents and other kids all under one roof. We think it’s a brilliant idea.
But then reality sets in.
The logistics of it all are complicated. To buy a house in Toronto big enough for several families would be tricky; I mean, houses like that just aren’t built around here. And I can’t say that the Dads are on board with this idea; any mention of it gets a round of ‘second wife’ jokes out of my husband. (Umm no, that’s not quite what we had in mind.) And then we’d have to agree on where to live. And I think it would certainly be challenging organizing that many people in one home. And then there is each family’s need for a bit of personal space. And, and…I can think of several other reasons why it wouldn’t work.
But can I tell you something? If everyone agreed to it I’d do it in a heartbeat. I’d jump right in without a moment’s hesitation. And I think it would be amazing.
What kind of parent are you? AP, Democratic, Authoritative? Are you a cloth diaperer, breast feeder, co-sleeper, vaccinator, gentle discipliner, baby wearer? Vegetarian, organic, vegan or none of the above? Homeschooler, unschooler, supporter of public school, or a combination? There are so many choices. There is so much judgment. Under which category do you and your family fall?
I am some of these. I am none of these. I used to describe us as an AP family and if I had to choose a category for my family that is still what I would say. But I prefer to say that we are living our lives in a way that feels right to us; in a way that comes naturally to us. We go with our gut. As a word play on human nature and Mother Nature I like to say that we all have a family nature. As far as our family goes, there are things that come naturally to us and things that we can’t help but feel. This is our family nature.
In an ideal world I would surround our family with families who had the same parenting style; the same values. The reality is that there is no other family quite like ours. No other family that makes all the same choices. So, we spend time around people with whom we feel comfortable. Not necessarily like-minded people but similar-minded. They are people who respect our choices and people who always support us even if they don’t agree with us; people who can understand that a decision I make might not be the one they make, but it is right for me and for my family. These are my peeps. You know who you are.
I am a life partner, a mother of four, flying by the seat of my pants, living a family life that comes naturally to me. This is my family nature.