Sunday, August 26, 2012

Day 25: Respect.

*Originally written on August 25th, at 1015pm*

Jason and I have often been told that we have a very “controversial” approach to parenting. Some people call it “new agey”, others have called us “hippies”. Many have labeled us “attachment parents”, and while I have nothing but respect for the philosophy, it is a not a term we’ve ever adopted for ourselves.

Most recently, we’ve been called “permissive”- an interesting term, when you think about it.  What does it mean to be a “permissive” parent? What is it exactly that we are “permitting”? Individuality? Creativity? Stubbornness? Insubordination? Manipulation? All of the above?

Ultimately, we can pretty much summarize our “philosophy” on parenting (if it can so pretentiously be called): Children are people too.

Sammie was born into this world with a strong personality.  His doctors and nurses noticed it right away. He just wouldn’t ‘cooperate’.  He wouldn’t turn his head one way if he wanted it another.  He wouldn’t sit still while we put on the baby mittens, or the baby hat…and he somehow managed to pull these off within seconds on them be placed on him.

Sammie is a sensitive kid. He needs his routine. He thrives on the familiar. He needs his space and his down time.  He’s a kid who needs to be reminded to eat and drink because he forgets to stop and slow down. And he’s a kid who absolutely 100% needs his sleep.

These are all things we’ve known about Sammie since he was about two months old.  While his exact needs have changed some, his basic personality traits still remain strong. When Sammie’s needs were not met, he was a miserable child.  However, when we meet his needs, basic as they are, he is one of the most easy going and happiest children I’ve ever met.

So, when Sammie was barely more than infant, Jason and I reached one of our first and most important parenting decisions: Our “wants” would never outweigh Sammie’s “needs”.

This means not waking Sammie up from his nap because Mommy has a playdate booked.  It means always making sure that I take the time to pack a lunch for him before we leave the house, since his appetite doesn’t always fit a schedule. It means making sure that he always gets a healthy balance of social time and of quiet time.  It means thinking of him before I think of myself.

Let me be very clear here: we put significant value on Sammie’s needs; this doesn’t mean that he gets everything he wants.  We do not quiet his tantrums by giving him rewards.  We insist on him being safe, and do not allow him to do “whatever he wants, whenever he wants”.  In fact, often- in order to meet his needs, we have to deny his wants.  This is often the case with naptime, which is never much fun for toddlers.

But every so often, we have to make decisions that put Sam’s needs ahead of our wants too- and this is often met with resistance from our friends and family.  This weekend was an example of that.  On the first night, we didn’t manage to get Sammie to sleep before midnight.  He was up by 7am the next day.  This is simply not enough sleep for him. It led to a tired baby all day, and Jason and I mutually agreed that ensuring that he got a good night’s rest the next night was the top priority.  When it became clear that we weren’t going to win the “sleeping during camping” battle, we packed him up and drove the hour trip back to the city.  He slept in the car, transitioned easily to his bed and stayed there for eleven hours.  We drove back the next day during naptime, and he got a full two hours of sleep in.

He was a rested baby.  We were relieved parents. It was unquestionably the right decision for our family.

Now, there may be many different perspectives on whether or not this was the right decision.  We were told that we shouldn’t let Sam “control” us, or our time that way.  That eventually he would have to learn to sleep where we “tell him to”.  This is a perfectly acceptable perspective- but it is not my perspective, nor is it my husband.

And to be honest, if my baby turns out “spoiled” because he knows that I gave up a night of camping so that he could get a full night’s sleep, I’m kind of okay with that. There are worse ways to spoil a kid.

This blog is part of the 2012 Summer Blog Challenge (31 posts in 31 days).  To follow along with my fellow writers, visit their blogs: 

Natasha at Natural Urban Mamas
Meaghan at Magz D Life
Aramelle at One Wheeler's World
Cliff at Peer Pressure Works
Tam at Tam I Am 
Liam at In The Now 
Jessica at 2plus2X2

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