Sunday, August 12, 2012

Day 12: One Size Fits One.

As someone who’s body, over the past ten years, has run the gamut between being a size six and a size twenty-four, I am understandably weary of so-called “one size fits all” apparel.  Human bodies are unique; even the deviations of shapes within a single dress size can be astonishing.  So, while it may be possible to fit any body size into a scrap of cloth, the persisting question is always whether or not this shape can be flattering on any body to begin with.

Our society seems obsessed with finding “one size fits all” answers.  Self-help books abound with advice on how to catch a mate, fix your marriage and even find inner peace, all with the basic assumption that we each have the same inner motivations, reasons and hang ups to battle.  While certainly there are trends in any given demographic that can be answered with sweeping suggestions and statements, the vast majority of manuals wind up being overly generalized to provide any real help to most readers. Most simply find themselves more confused than they were when they started.

With every passing day, I’m made more and more aware of the obsession that our society has with parenting.  It’s all we seem to talk about- which kind of makes sense given that it’s the one topic that 80% of the world’s population has direct experience with and/or is currently living through.  What fascinates me is the ever-increasing amount of books, ideologies, mantras, support groups, and labels being used to define the experience of parenthood into specific groupings. 

Are you a Tiger Mom? A mainstream Mom? A natural, hippie-crunchy Mom? Just take our short quiz and find out!

Breastfeeding? Baby wearing? Soothers? Potty training? Vaccines? The answer to all these questions and more can be found inside!

Does your child refuse to sleep? Eat? Talk? Our easy to follow instruction manual will solve all your woes in no time!

It's all snake oil. 

Truly- it’s overwhelming how many “answers” we have to swallow on a daily basis. It seems everyone has “the” solution to all our parenting woes.  Everyone is a freaking guru.

So if the answer is that easy to find, so easy in fact that it can be summed up in a book on a shelf, why is that we still have so many damn questions?

Because there are no “one size fits all” answers in parenthood.

We seem to have a basic understanding that all human beings are different. However, we seem to lose that basic understanding when it comes to raising our children. We want our children to fit into boxes that can be easily checked off as “yes” or “no”.  We forget that their own unique personalities, tastes, preferences and even opinions will inevitably dictate a large part of who they are and how they will behave. 

Acknowledging this is a very difficult step for many parents to take. It means so much more than just accepting that your child is an individual; it also means accepting that, no matter how hard you try, you simply can not “control” everything about them. 

Yes, you can teach. You can train. You can encourage. You can guide.

But you can not dictate. Not unless your child allows themselves to be dictated to.

And really- do we really want to raise a world full of children who will do as they are told simply because they were told to do it?  What kind of adults will this create? Who will be the ones who will challenge the status quo, break the moulds, make the world a better place?

Personally, I want my child to grow up to do things because they are the right thing to do, and not to simply follow the conventions imposed on them.

Anyway, I digress.

I recently wrote about the experience of learning to adapt to my son’s sleep style.  The greatest realization that I came to during this experience was that- amazingly enough- my son actually had a sleep style all of his own.  And no matter how many books I read, no “expert” could help me discover it.  The only person who could tell me about Sammie’s sleep style was Sammie. 

Once I had figured out his style, the rest fell into place. I read several books, took what resonated with me, left out the advice that clearly didn’t apply, and adapted them all into a sleep decision that worked for my family.  I am proud to report that Sammie is now a self-soothing, sleep through the night, wakes up happy and refreshed baby.

This isn’t because someone gave me the “key”.  There was no “AHA!” moment at the end of chapter three. In fact, the only AHA moment I reached was the knowledge that everything I was trying (which was on the strict advice of only the most highly recommended books) was failing.

It was time to move beyond the books.  It was time to turn off my internet forums and turn my attention back to the most important source of information that I have: my son.

Every day, I turn on my computer to find someone status or twitter feed inundated with strong statements and judgments about how children should be raised. I’m forced to laugh, mostly so that I don’t get enraged, and think to myself: how easy it must be to have all the answers.  I don’t know about you, but I am fully prepared to admit that I don’t have ANY of the answers on how you should raise your kid. I don’t know your kid. I don’t know your family’s dynamic. I don’t know you needs. And I don’t know what kind of adult you trying to raise.

We have an assumption that we are all trying to raise the same kind of people.  This simply isn’t true.  Everyone places different values on different traits and nurture different characteristics.  Some kids will be raised as vegetarians, others will be raised as cattle ranchers.  Some kids will be raised with a strong value on formal education.  Others will be given trust funds to tour Europe.  Some kids will have allowances, others will be asked to work. 

We are all different families with different points of view.  We all have different goals and different perspectives on how best to get there.

For the most part, what we share is more important than all our differences.  We share a deep love and devotion to our children, and a strong desire to see them flourish and succeed in this wild and wacky world.

So I urge you- when you read about parenting, be it on a forum, in a book, in an article, or from a medical journal, ask yourself if the ‘answers’ that you are finding resonate with you.  If they do, then take them and run with them.  If they don’t, simply move on to the next topic and enjoy your day. Do you best to see all sides of a situation, but- at the end of the day- accept that you have the right to your point of view...and so does everyone else. 

Try to remember that what may seem foreign to you can actually be golden to someone else.

And try to remember that, believe it or not, we are all playing on the same team and trying to build a better society for all. 

It’s all about perspective. And that is as unique as you are.

And that can’t be taught in a book. 

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 

1 comment:

  1. Great, great post. Love this insightful look on something that should remain at the top of all of our minds while we parent.