3 Things I Learned and Should Pass along to any Parent or Soon to be a Parent
When Joe was born I started reading about parenting. I read Parenting with love and logic. I decided to follow its parenting techniques. The main thing that I wanted was to be consistent. I did not want to just wing it. If I said something to my kids I wanted it to be for a very specific reason. The idea is to let the child learn and grow without us doing everything for them. They are their own person and they get to make their decisions with guidance from us. This doesn't mean they can act out and not get punishes for it. It has a good balance between letting the child know they have control over their choices but at the same time, there are limitations. They have to suffer the consequences of decisions they make.
In 2015 Joe was born and my in-laws came to visit. They were so worried that he will get used to being carried. Every time I held him I was told to put him back in the bassinet. They had pure intentions. If he gets used to being held all the time, it is going to be difficult for me later as he is growing up. I read about the concept of a 4th trimester and this lead to my decision of holding him as much as he needed in the first 3 months. A week before he finishes his third month, I will start letting him figure things out on his own. ScaryMommy talks about her experience with the 4th trimester and how it is a real thing. It was my first child and every time I held him I was being asked not too. No matter how much I explained or talked about the 4th trimester no one was getting convinced. It was also hard for me because I kept thinking if he gets used to being held I will be the only one that suffers and I am ok with that. I wanted to enjoy him.
In 2016, Joe was one, we visited my family in Lebanon. I knew it was going to be tough. Grandparent's job is to spoil the grandkids. I know I was going to get criticized for my parenting style. I am the new parent after all. My parents raised 4 kids and they have the experience I lacked. They were not happy when I let Joe cry. If he wanted something that I took away and he bursts into tears I was supposed to give it back. I was expected to do anything that would make sure he doesn't cry. This was something I am 100% against. Not everytime he cries I will give him whatever he wants to stop. What will happen when I go to get groceries? Am I supposed to buy him everything he wants, Their logic was that he is still young. This is the age you just love and cuddle them. You start to become tough at around age 4. My problem with this is that it is going to be so much harder to set limits at age 4 when there were none all alone. It is going to be hard on me and on him to understand. Why all of a sudden everything changed?
In 2017 we went to Kuwait to visit my in-laws. Bill was 9 months. He gets very cranky if he misses nap time. He becomes very hard to handle and to calm down. We went out to walk around in a garden than out to lunch. We got to the restaurant and Bill would not stop crying. I knew he was just tired. My in-laws were convinced he was in pain. They even went to the pharmacy and got him medication. Without asking me I see my sister-in-law trying to give Bill medicine. I had to stop her. Again pure intentions. They think I don't have enough experience and my baby is in pain.
All the above stories let to strained and awkward relationships. In all the above I knew and wanted something specific for my kids. I am their mother and always want what is better for them. I had to always put my foot down and stand my grounds against family members who are just trying to help. This taught me something that I try to always teach my friends who are soon to be moms:
1- Everyone will have an opinion:
If your child is crying even though he might just be hungry or he is just sleepy. You might get a lot of advice on how to soothe his tummy because a baby cries like that only when they are in pain. Every person will start telling you about what medication is best to give.
This is especially if you come from an Arab family. Listen to their advice and think about it. You don't have to take it. You are the parent. Do your research and see which route you would like to take.
2- You will be judged and Criticized:
Decide the parenting technique you want to follow and go for it. My parents do not approve my parenting style and it causes a lot of friction. I believe what I am doing is better for my kids. It is my responsibility to make them good people. I am the authority in my house. I want to know that if I ask Joe not to run on the street he will listen. I want him to know that if I say no to something its a NO. He can't ask me 30 minutes later and expect a different answer. He can't sit, cry and scream because eventually, I will give in. It doesn't matter how many people look at me and point in the mall. He can cry until he is ready to stop. None of these people are going to deal with the aftermath.
Our parents raised kids 20 years ago. They already forgot a lot of it. It has been only 3 years and I find myself already forgetting what I researched when Joe was a baby. Also, times are changing. When I got my first phone is very different from when my younger brother got his first phone. Parenting is changing to keep up with everything around us. Talking about sex or sexuality was not something you do but today it is an important thing to educate your kids about.
3- Noone knows that baby better than you:
I kept telling my in-laws that Bill was just sleepy. They decided to go get him medication and give it to him anyways. I had to stand my grounds. I put Bill to nap and he was happy for the rest of the day. It will take some time but you know what that baby needs more than anyone. Just because you did not raise 4 kids that doesn't mean you do not know how to raise this one. Not all kids are the same. Joe and Bill are like night and day. Joe is a thinker he watches and then decides what he wants to do. Bill is a tornado. He wants to climb on everything and throw everything. My Parents raised me and my siblings but we are different people than my kids are. There is no one mold that every kid fits into. They are different and their needs are different. The way they express themselves is different and you are with them the most. You know them the most!
If you feel your baby is not comfortable and people disagree. Go do whatever you need to do to make sure you are confident and comfortable with the results. Trust your guts!
I can let my parents control the way I raise my kids but if anything happens to one of it. It will be my fault because I am the Parent. It will never be the grandparent's fault. Do not feel like you have to listen to everyone. Do not feel like you can't let your child cry because you will be judged. Do what you think is best for your child and his/her future. Always remember YOU ARE THE PARENT.