Thursday, November 29, 2007

I Gotta Remember This

A friend of mine and I were just chatting over instant messenger, talking about parenting and stuff. She passed on the following advice that another AP (attachment parenting) mom had given on a message board (I believe online (see blue text below). This lady is so right!!! So why do I always feel myself doing what she says not to do? I think its a combination of insecurity over worrying that others will think badly of me and my parenting, and once I get over that, it is driven by a want to inform others of alternative information and ways of doing things. I don't expect or need them to be open to the info, but just in case they are, I feel selfish keeping the information to myself. You see, I would have loved to have had access to this same information before I became a parent so I wouldn't have had to search so dang hard to find some of it and I wouldn't have felt so alone in practicing it. Also, how can I hope that certain things might change about how our society views parenting and kids and such if I'm not willing to do something about it? I guess its the activist in me or something. Problem is that I'd love to have my cake and eat it too - share the information but not have any negative reactions on how I personally choose to parent. I understand if others don't agree or subscribe to the information I pass on, but it doesn't feel so good when I personally feel attacked, belittled, or disrespected for how I parent. I know, I can't have it both ways! I think its just the growing pains of being a new parent and finding parenting to be so very complicated and interesting. I think its the most important thing a person can ever do so of course I feel very passionate about it, and watch out world when I feel passionate about something!

Anyway, read on for the very sage advice I mentioned. In the future if I ever ask you if you'd like some bean dip, you'll get the joke:) :

It's something I've learned in my years of parenting using alternative ideas. The specifics may change, but the principal doesn't. When setting boundaries, people (often moms) typically confuse setting the boundary with trying to convince the other person about how right they are in needing to set the boundary. In setting boundaries, we don't need to convince the other person we are right and they don't have to agree about the boundary. We just need to be prepared to enforce the boundary, at any cost, using progressively more firm responses (if need be).

I've found new moms often confuse boundaries and trying to convince someone of the *rightness* of their choices.

The best thing is to assert your boundary and *not* try to defend your choice.

Some family and close friend help....

First, I learned early on that most of my choices were on a "need to know" basis. Most people don't "need to know". If asked "how is the baby sleeping?" Answer: Great! Thanks for asking! Want some bean dip?”

"Are you sure you should be picking her up every time she cries?" Answer: "Yes! Thank you! Want some bean dip?"

"When do you plan to wean" Answer: "When she's ready. Thanks! Want some bean dip?"

Now, with some people you will need to set *firm* boundaries. They will need to be backed up with action (like hanging up, leaving the room or even the event) if it's a pattern of intrusion, for example. Practice kind but firm responses:

"I know you love us and the baby. We are so glad. Our sleeping choices have been researched and made. I will not discuss it again"

Also, don't confuse setting boundaries with trying to convince someone of the rightness of your choices. New AP (attachment parenting) moms often struggle with this. The boundary is that no one else has a right to tell you how to parent and create a hostile environment. You set boundaries by doing the above. Where new moms often invite problems is by citing authors, studies and sites to "defend" themselves. Each time you do so, you create more time for discussion and rebuttal and send the message that your decisions are up for debate. Don't defend your choices beyond generalities, and then only once or twice. "The doctor is in support of our choices. Want some bean dip?"

Finally, look them in the eye and say simply "I want us to have a good relationship. I want you to *enjoy* the baby. I'll parent the baby - you enjoy them. Let's not discuss this anymore. If you bring it up, I will leave the room."

p.s. Just a head's up: since I view this blog as kind of like a diary and as a place for me to vent, I think I'll keep posting my counter-culture parenting stuff here, if nothing else than to keep a record for myself and share with other like-minded individuals. If you don't agree with this type of information, cool, just don't read it. I have no interest in getting into a debate with you or watching you roll your eyes every time you reference something from my blog when I see you in person. But in real life, I vow to take the more "need to know" approach and keep my business to myself. Anyone want some bean dip?

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